It’s the time of year when the hens are laying well. Last year I donated hatching eggs to the local Montessori school so the kids could learn about the early cycle of chicken life.
With lighter colored eggs kids are able to see inside the egg through a method called “candling”. Using a high powered flashlight while cradling the egg gently you can see growth inside the egg and around day 5-7 you can even see movement and the chick moving in the egg. By day 21 chicks start to pip and make their way out of the shells.
Since becoming a nonprofit and welcoming families to my farm I’ve had many parents who want to give their kids the experience of hatching eggs and caring for chicks. Most of these families live in places where they can’t keep chickens.
My chick program allows kids to have the hatching experience in their own homes. Parents have to obtain the necessary items for hatching and brooding the chicks. I supply the eggs and guidance and ultimately take the chicks back once the family is ready to let them go. This time ranges from a week old to six weeks old.
The kids get to experience how an egg becomes a chick then they learn the importance of parenting and being responsible for the young birds. Parents seem to really enjoy this experience as well with the knowledge that it’s for a limited time and they’re giving their kids a memory they’ll have forever.
For interested parents you’ll need the following:
- An incubator (there are many kinds, not all created equally). The more expensive ones are more turnkey with better hatch rates. I do recommend a 6-8 egg Brinsea incubator. You can always sell or split this with other families who also want the hatching experience.
- A brooder and heat lamp. Most people use a Cardboard box or plastic storage box with walls high enough to keep the babies from jumping out and to keep it from getting too hot from the heat lamp. You can use paper towels in the bottom for easy clean up the first week.
- Chick food. If you’re here in Oxford there are a number of places to get this. Any feed store as well as Walmart sells small bags for around $5.50. This should easily last a couple of weeks.
- If you want to spend the money you can find a complete starter kit here (or at any local feed store) but this isn’t necessary, just an option: https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Chicken-Supplies/Build-Your-Own-Baby-Chick-Starter-Kit-Save-big-p1742.aspx
Here’s the first of the little peepers who’ve come back to the farm this spring:
Feel free to contact me if you’re interested or have questions.