Why Chick-Hatching Programmes Teach Kids All the Wrong Lessons About Animals

Posted by 2 years ago | Permalink | Comments (17)

Three eggsIt’s important for children to learn about animals. But if the way that they’re taught actively harms animals, most people would agree that something has gone very, very wrong.

That’s why we’ve written to a primary school in Scotland, asking it to end chick-hatching projects. A member of the public contacted us about the project, in which eggs were brought into classrooms to hatch, with concerns about animal welfare and possible risks to the children’s health because of bacteria such as E coli and salmonella, which are often carried by birds.

In these programmes, many of the baby birds become sick or deformed because their needs are not met during incubation and after hatching. Their organs can stick to the sides of the shells because the eggs are often not rotated properly. If the heat at the school is turned off on the weekends, the embryos can become crippled or die in the shell. Eggs often hatch on weekends when no one is in the school.

When hatching projects are over, most of the chicks, particularly the males, end up being put back into the factory-farm system and killed, disposed of at poultry markets or even fed to reptiles.

Do teachers tell their wide-eyed pupils exactly what will happen to the adorable chicks after they’ve hatched? Do they show them images like this (a photo taken at an egg factory farm where male chicks are literally thrown away with the rubbish)? We suspect not.

Male chicks are discarded like trash

The lessons these kinds of projects teach children are neither educational nor compassionate, since they often cause animals to suffer and treat living beings as disposable commodities.

Dr F Barbara Orlans, former senior research fellow at Georgetown University, has said:

“Young birds need nurturing and rest. Chicks can suffer from malnutrition and dehydration in the classroom that is not even noticed. The overriding message of chick-hatching projects is that human responsibility for these birds is limited, and animals can be discarded like yesterday’s toys”. 

There are many better ways to teach children about animals and how they should be treated – with respect and compassion. The next generation deserve better than these misguided and misleading lessons. And of course, the animals involved deserve better, too.

If your child’s school has a chick-hatching programme, please contact the head teacher and voice your objections.


  • Ann Byrne commented on May 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    there are lots of schools in Scotland that did this this year would it not be better to use butterflies or ladybirds then let the children have the pleasure of releasing them.

  • Michelle Moores commented on May 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    why oh why do schools have to get involved in animal cruelty?? Do they really think this is it is ok for baby birds to be treated so badly.
    Get a grip and just teach the children what they will need to know to get jobs and exam qualifications. Specialise in school subjects and stop trying to be Jack of all trades. Evil.

  • Edith ARNAUD commented on May 6, 2015 at 9:31 pm


  • Trinity Farmer commented on May 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    This is horrible. Nothing should be treated this way. Children should know the truth.

  • Monica Wheeler commented on May 6, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    respect for nature!

  • Maria Robert commented on May 7, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Disgusted in this project in Scotland of all placesm

  • Pavithra commented on May 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Rather than merely educating children, teach them the values of life and being humane. In this young age itself, if they treat animals as disposable waste, think of their mind set when they grow. Civilization calls not only in getting degree but being humane in all aspects. Teach these moral values to children.

  • Kieran commented on May 7, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Unless a teacher has the knowledge if looking after such birds, or has someone to help them with that knowledge, then they shouldnt be aloud!

  • Sally Blackwell commented on May 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Weve just hatched some ducklings at the nursery I work at. They are lovely little things, and are being very well cared for. One of the ducklings was really unwell after hatching, and staff took time out of their day to help give it the best chance of survival. Yesterday the poor thing looked at deaths door, but today after lots of loving care, it is doing much better, and has been put in with the others. When they are too big to keep indoors, they will be released into the local park, which has a duck pond, and they will be spoilt by the public! Not all places mistreat animals, so we shouldn’t all be penalised for wanting to show children the facts of life!

  • Cat commented on May 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I’m so glad PETA has finally caught onto this issue! I’m a teacher and I’ve worked in a few schools where they have these chick-hatching programmes. The sad thing is that I’ve actually had the box of eggs arrive and been told to use the project in my teaching. I can’t suddenly refuse my headteacher on moral grounds else I could risk my job. The education system at the moment seems to use this chick hatching programme very often in Reception and Year 1 classes, where the children are between 4 and 6 years old. I was terrified of letting the children touch the chicks as it’s not beneficial for either the chicks or the children. I’d like to see animals banned from the classroom but I’m stuck, forced to teach something I don’t believe in. It’s awful what teachers are forced to do for ‘education’. I really do hope that we can stop chicks being used in schools 🙁

  • marisa commented on May 7, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Respect and understand all animals!

  • Damien commented on May 7, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    It is very wrong of you to ask all parents to voice objections to chick hatching in their child’s school. I have hatched chicks in my daughter’s class for the last 6 years and it has been a great experience for all involved. The kids get to observe the developing chicks in the eggs using a candling lamp connected to the whiteboard and are given responsibilities to monitor the automatic turner is functioning correctly and that the correct water level is maintained in the incubator. the chicks hatch midweek and the kids are educated on the correct feeding, hygiene care and handling of the chicks up to a week old and then they come back to our property and join the rest of our flock as family pets. To ask the other parents ( my friends and my daughters friends) to object to the principle to us doing this each year is outrageous. When done correctly the hatching of chicks in the classroom is a wonderful experience for all involved.

  • Cat commented on May 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    This all depends on the class/teacher/school. We have done an egg-hatching project the last 4 years at my school. A fellow teacher at my school has a friend who owns their own small farm. In the four years it’s been running, over 90% of the eggs have hatched healthily each year, with the remaining eggs completely empty and not fertilised. The teachers have a clear rota to supervise the pupils to complete five turns a day (the guideline is a minimum of three). The farm supplies the equipment such as heat lamps and incubators. And on weekends, holidays etc a teacher takes the chicks home they don’t get left at school! Once the chicks hatch there is an hourly water and food check. The kids learn absolutely loads and love it. They get to change the water and food, turn the eggs and understand the importance of looking after animals. They are never left unsupervised and at the end of the project each year some of the chicks are even donated to families at the school who keep chickens at home on their own land. On occasion staff have adopted them and the few remaining each year are returned to the farm to continue the programme. It’s completely free and the farm makes no money. And we have been on school trips to visit the farm to teach the children the importance of animals like chickens having freedom to roam and being treated with respect. Broad generalisations and judgements are outdated and ridiculous. So much for an evolved society.

  • Frank Hartzell commented on May 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I know its foolishness to confront fundamentalists of any kind but most PETA fundys are highly educated, so here goes. Nature is not agriculture. Agriculture, as currently practiced, is monstorous. That has to change. But I believe compassionate agriculture can be practiced. I believe every animal should be treated with respect. This means chickens need to see the sun, scratch, mate and live as good a life as possible. But because we are part of earth’s ecosystem, not visiting space aliens, we have the right to practice agriculture. It has hard choices, like what to do with male chicks. Its one we can do better on. I never kill the cockrels when born but do end up eating them when they start to fight and injure each other. At least the castration horrors has stopped in chickens. We can do MORE. We can eliminate awful megafarm raising. But stepping out of the process entirely removes your right to reform agriculture, to some extent

  • Margaret Boyle commented on May 7, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I see abuse…. STOP!!

  • mally commented on February 17, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I was ‘expected’ to continue an annual programme of chick hatching in my school about 4 years ago but I had always felt it was wrong. This was for year 1 children,
    Staff were also expected to take the eggs/chicks/incubator home at weekends throughout the hatching period but that year it was not possible as nobody in the year group was in a position to do this. For this reason we cancelled the chick programme and ever since it has not continued, thankfully.
    I know that a few parents and even staff have ‘blamed’ me (never to my face might I add…) for stopping the programme – but I was only in year 1 for that one year and subsequent year 1 staff have not re-initiated it. Hurray!
    I am now proud to be a vegan (I was not vegan then) and I know what I did was right.
    Should the school suddenly decide to restart the programme I will be voicing my concerns very, very loudly.

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