Hatching Chickens to Learn About Embryology
I have been raising egg-laying chickens for about 7 years. I don’t have a large flock. I have about 6 hens. I love this experience as a city girl transported to a country place and allowed us to keep a few hens! Where we live we lose a lot of chickens to predators. We have fox, raccoon, bobcat, and hawks, but I believe the most common predator is the neighborhood dog that someone lets run loose.
Last year my husband brought me home a surprise. He brought me two bantam chicks. I have never had bantams but they are darling. Bantams are a breed that is smaller than your other chickens. There are several varieties. The ones he brought to me had cute little feathers on their feet.
One sad day one of my bantams disappeared. I found her remains later. Looked like a hawk got her.
My one remaining bantam struggled to integrate with the rest of the flock and I ended up putting her in her own tiny coop. My husband made her a tiny coop to live in.
That is when something interesting happened. My bantam started sitting on her eggs. She became broody.
Not all chickens have the instinct to be broody. Most modern chickens have had the broodiness bred right out of them. This is because a broody hen will stop egg production in order to raise her babies.
Now my broody hen sat diligently on an egg that would never hatch because I have no rooster and it was unfertilized.
I decided to buy her some fertilized eggs to hatch. I was not sure she would understand all of her duties. Mamma hens must turn the eggs so that the chicks form correctly. And she must keep them warm. But I am a science teacher so I decided to experiment with this instinct of hers and see what would happen.
I went to a farm and got her some fertilized eggs.
Each egg I presented to her as she clucked excitedly and then rolled the egg towards herself and tucked it in. She had to spread out kind of wide to cover them all, but she did it.
During the next 21 days, my hen barely left her nest. I would lift a handful of food or some water and she would drink hastily. About once a day she would jump off her nest and quickly eat a little and poop.
She carefully turned her eggs and tucked them in.
When day 21 hit, just like clockwork, my first little chick appeared. I said to my hen, “Can I see your baby?” And she lifted up her wing to show me!
It was about half the size as a normal chick. Tiny! The next day another chick hatched.
NOTE To TEACHERS
As a teacher of course I am thinking about how I could do this in the classroom. I think the first thing to consider is what would happen to the chicks when we are done hatching them. Teachers need to have a plan or a farm or somewhere that these living things can go to live once they are hatched.
You would need an incubator and some fertilized eggs and you need to do some research. Eggs need to be turned as the mamma does. Many incubators will do this. Also, please remember that newly hatched chicks can drown in a small bowl of water. Please use an actual water device designed for chicks.
Concepts you could teach:
Structure of Living Things
Growth and Development
What Living Things Need
Thank you for reading this post.
This story was so popular that I decided to turn it into a digital story with follow up pages and centers!
Digital Story and Worksheets Banti The Broody Hen