Chick-Hatching Programmes: Not What They’re Cracked Up to Be

Posted by 6 years ago | Permalink | Comments (8)

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I first came across chick-hatching programmes whilst running the PETA stand at an education exhibition. Whilst most companies at the show were exhibiting books, outdoor play equipment and lesson plans, a company called “Living Eggs” was “exhibiting” several tiny chicks. The idea is for schools to put fertilised chicken eggs in incubators in classrooms and let students watch the eggs hatch two to four weeks later.

Of course, PETA immediately complained to TSL Education Limited, the show organisers, who thankfully made the decision to ban the use of live animals in all future exhibitions.

Some teachers believe that such programmes help pupils learn about embryonic development and life cycles, but something important is missing! In nature, chickens form friendships and social hierarchies, develop a pecking order and love and care for their young. They also enjoy taking dust baths and making nests. As the Discovery Channel reported, “Chickens do not just live in the present but can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control, something previously attributed only to humans and other primates …”. Chick-hatching programmes, however, teach the lesson that it is somehow acceptable to think of animals as mere commodities to be brought into the world without their mothers, gawked at and then casually disposed of.

Clearly, there are plenty of ways for schools to educate pupils about embryonic development and life cycles without exploiting and harming animals. For example, they could visit an animal sanctuary; have pupils create a slideshow, classroom display or animated video to illustrate life cycles or use a Chick Life Cycle Exploration Set.

Please contact us for more humane-education teaching ideas!


  • John Carmody commented on November 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    well done for speaking up!

  • KT commented on November 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I remember my primary school used to do this when I was young, nobody ever told us the truth about what would happen to the chicks when they grew up.

  • Debbie Deboo commented on June 3, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I am running a campaign backed by Animal Aid to try to stop this happening in schools. Please support me, I have leaflets I can send to you to give to participating schools. I have a blog and a facebook campaign page.
    I’m working hard at finding all the schools involved and contacting them and asking them not to be part of this scheme.

  • Jackie commented on July 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    What a load of rubbish!!

    People routinely incubate eggs to produce chicks without any detriment to the chicks at all – there is a lot of real animal cruelty out there – invest your energy in these instead!

    This is a great way of teaching children life cycle work in a time frame short enough to maintain their interest. Go away killjoys!

  • sarah commented on January 30, 2013 at 12:49 am

    If the chicks are given a good home after hatching I can not see an issue. Far worse things routinely happen. Educating children to see living creatures is a good thing. In the world we live in I think the more they know about nature the better.

  • Tobias commented on March 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I must give support to the wise and common sense words of Jackie and Sarah in this Thread . I cannot speak for Living Eggs [ from a glance they look a little corporate ] but i run a small concern hiring out the equipment needed for a school to hatch their own chicks and care for them after hatching.The resulting chicks [which are all pure breeds ] are collected and grown on to eventually join the rest of the flocks on the farm . Who all roam free to dust bath and engage in regular chicken activities . Some of the resulting hens are re-homed [obviously at a price ] to domestic settings . From experience i know that this is a wonderful experience for pupils and teachers alike.

  • Tobias commented on March 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Oh and as for the chicks having a bad time of it being looked at and handled by the children , this is not supported by my observations . Chicks that are given such intensive attention always develop faster ie they are bigger and more robust . Dare i say it , yes the love they receive is the ‘growth factor’ here , me thinks .

  • chicory commented on June 10, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I must write as I totally agree with the people who write positively about hatching eggs at schools. I do not agree with Living Eggs ethics but there are other companies out there that ensure ‘Animal Welfare’ is paramount. All concerned (pupils, parents and teachers) gain so much insight to animals etc (which is very constructive thing in this day and age) during these hatching programs and as Tobias states the chicks are stronger and healthier as all their needs are catered for. Sheepdrove Organic Farm play recordings of noises to chicks, to ensure they do not suffer from shock when put into the fields, chicks from schools are also accustomed to noise and fair just as well. I think if individuals have concerns about ‘Living Eggs’ they should write to the necessary Government bodies who will deal with their issues instead of going on a hate campaign.

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