Cheep, cheep! The chicks have arrived! As part of their study of life cycles, the second grade has been raising chicken eggs in class and their eggs have started to hatch!
In April, Ms. Maggie Smith from Columbia Greene 4-H visited each second grade classroom to talk with the students about how fertile eggs develop and hatch into chickens. She brought along eggs, incubators, and other chick-rearing equipment for each class and explained how to properly care for the eggs while they incubated – pretty much leave the eggs alone to do their thing.
“Basically an incubator is a robotic momma hen, it does everything it needs to,” Ms. Smith explained on her visit.
The incubators kept the eggs at a steady 99.6 degrees, the same temperature they would be with an actual hen sitting on them. Each class got one incubator and seven eggs to raise.
Later in April, Ms. Smith returned to show the students how to “candle” the eggs, which involved holding each egg up to a light so they could see the silhouette of the chick that was developing inside.
The incubation period for chickens is approximately 21 days, so the students were expecting so see chicks emerge somewhere around May 1st or 2nd. They began hatching right on time! The classes watched as the chicks “pipped” their eggs, which is the term used when they first begin to break through the shell, and then “zipped” their eggs, where the chicks peck a line around the shell to break it into two halves, much like unzipping a zipper.
The classes had to be patient as the chicks hatched, which can take several hours. Only once the chicks had completely hatched, dried and fluffed up could the classes take them out of the incubator and move them to the brooder, where they would have more room to move around under a special heat lamp.
On May 5th, Ms. Smith will be back to collect the chicks and bring them to an appropriate new home.
This exciting life-cycle experience was sponsored by the MED PTA.
Fourth grade also hatched eggs this spring at MED in a similar project.