Each year we welcome chicken eggs to Kids College to witness the wonderful moment of their hatching. They come with usually around twelve eggs, a brood box and an incubator. Our eggs spend two weeks with us while they hatch out and the children see the process of their birth. Thank you to Living Eggs for this amazing experience.

The story of how our eggs

 

Hens lay eggs almost every day. But for chickens to grow, the hen must first be mated with a rooster. The eggs she then lays are fertile eggs. You don’t buy these eggs in the supermarket. We don’t normally eat these eggs. These eggs go into our incubator.

Our eggs were collected 18 days ago and placed in an incubator. An incubator is a device which keeps eggs warm and moist while the chicks grow, just like mother hen. It takes 21 days to hatch eggs.

The eggs are turned over every morning and every night. By turning the eggs, we ensure the chick inside the shell gets the nutrients it needs from the yolk. A mother hen turns the eggs while she sits on them.

Some chicks just don’t grow inside the eggs. During the last eighteen days, we have candled the eggs to see which ones have chicks and which ones don’t. To candle an egg means to look at it with a torch in a dark room. You can actually see the chick move!

The eggs were carefully packed into egg cartons, and kept warm in a special box until they were delivered and ready to go into your incubator.

The incubator is set up on a stable table near a power point. A thermostat ensures the temperature remains at a constant level by turning the heater on and off. We can tell how warm it is inside by looking at the thermometer. The temperature needs to stay at 37.5 degrees.

The eggs are placed on the floor of the incubator. We must be very careful not to bump the incubator. If the eggs roll too much, the chicks inside may actually drown.

In the incubator, behind the fan is a plastic container. This container is filled with water. The water in the incubator is very important. The water together with the heat creates humidity. The humidity helps keep the egg shell moist. The moisture softens the egg shell, which makes it easier for the chicks to hatch. It is very important not to open the incubator, as this will cause the humidity to drop.

Our eggs were delivered on a Monday and are due to hatch on Wednesday. Before they hatch, if you listen carefully, you may actually be able to hear the chicks cheeping.

The eggs may rock back and forth and eventually you may notice some of the shell break away. This is called ‘pipping’. The chick uses a special part on the top of its beak called the ‘egg tooth’ to break away the shell.

After the pipping begins… Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think the chicks will look like when they first come out of their eggs?

Where do our chicks go?

We have enjoyed watching our chicks break out of their eggs for the past two weeks. Now it is time they go home to the free-range farm, grow up a bit and when they are big enough, they will start laying eggs that are sticking our local supermarket shelves.

Chickens are housed in a variety of ways depending on climate and area available.

A Chicken Coop usually consists of 2 areas, an enclosed “house” for protection from the weather and roosting facilities for night-time, and an open “run” to allow sunning and scratching in the ground. Nesting boxes are usually fitted to the enclosed “house”.

Tractor Pens are movable pens providing both a protective house and an outside area. They are moved regularly to provide fresh ground for the chickens to scratch and graze on.

Two to three birds are housed in cages for a laying period of 12 to 14 months. Droppings fall through the wire floors and are cleaned out regularly. Continuous feed troughs and automatic waterers are fitted to the cages. Eggs roll out through the front of the cage and lie in a gutter for collection.

Birds are kept in sheds with “litter” on the floor i.e. straw, wood shavings, rice hulls etc. The equipment inside the sheds consists of food troughs waterers, nesting boxes and perches.

Free Range eggs are produced from hens allowed the opportunity to graze and forage on pastures. You can now find free range eggs on your supermarket shelves next to the commercially produced ones. However, you will pay a little more for them with good reason.

Fun facts about chickens

. . . not all chicks are yellow

. . . chicks can be heard chirping in their shells up to 24 hours before hatching

. . . chicks do not need feed and water for up to 48 hours after hatching

. . . chicks start to grow feathers in the first week

. . . chickens eyelids close from the bottom up

. . . brown/black chicks come from dark shelled eggs

. . . chicks have an “egg tooth” on the top of their beak to break open the shell

What keeping chickens at home can teach children

Keeping a small flock of chickens in the backyard is much more than a passing fad or trend and is slowly working itself into the fabric of life for families all over the country and from all walks of life. More people are happily learning that chicken keeping is an activity that the whole family can get involved in.

Like planting a garden – and getting even the smallest of children excited about growing their own food to eat – teaching kids about responsibility and empathy for animals, even (or especially) those that provide our breakfast, is a powerful and important lesson.

Small children can help collect eggs, scatter treats for the chickens, and learn how to refill feeders. Older kids can be responsible for making sure waterers are full, cleaning the coop, and helping to round up the flock at the end of the day.

Chickens are fairly low maintenance and don’t require much other than daily feed and water, but they do need to be locked up in a secure coop at night to keep them safe from predators. If the kids are a bit older, their abandoned playhouse can be quite easily transformed into an adorable chicken coop.

A garden shed also is simple to convert into a coop – although not many are willing to give up their potting shed! But maybe sectioning off an area and allowing the chickens one small section would work. For those who are more handy, building a small coop is a great weekend project that the whole family can help with.

The educational benefits of caring for chickens

In addition to learning responsibility, there are other lessons that chicken keeping teaches. Counting the number of eggs collected and keeping a weekly chart to track the results is a great lesson in arithmetic, as is doing a nightly headcount to make sure each hen is safely in the coop and on her spot on the roosting bar. Since chicken eggs can come in different colours ranging from greens and blues to cream, tan and white, little ones can practice naming the different colours or sorting eggs by colour.

But even beyond the potential teaching opportunities that chicken keeping offers for parents, chickens that have been hand raised from chicks and handled frequently grow to be friendly, affectionate pets. Chickens will learn their names and come when called – or at least when treats are involved! The whole family will delight in watching their chickens chase grasshoppers, sprawl in the sun taking dust baths and stroll around the yard, clucking contentedly.

How to take care of chickens

It’s important to supervise small kids when they are handling baby chicks especially, so the chicks don’t get dropped or injured, and teaching kids to handle the chickens gently, not to chase them, how to pick up an adult hen, and so on, teaches empathy and compassion.

Reminding children not to put their fingers in their mouth or to rub their eyes while they’re around the chickens and to wash their hands afterwards are all good lessons in biosecurity and the disease prevention.

Getting the whole family outside, planting or weeding a garden, doing chicken chores or just enjoying watching the chickens wander in the backyard looking for bugs, seeds and grass to eat, contributes to valuable family bonding time as well.

Chickens love to nibble on plants and flowers, so keeping them out of the garden during the growing season is critical, but they can be put to work turning the soil and looking for garden pests during the off season, and love to help eat any wilted, bruised or bug-eaten garden produce during prime gardening season.

Kids can even help plant the chickens a garden of their own. Chickens can eat nearly anything that can be grown in a garden, except onions, unripe tomatoes/plants and leaves, eggplant, rhubarb, white potatoes, and avocados, all of which contain toxins that can be harmful to chickens.

All the culinary herbs have wonderful health benefits for chickens – and herbs are easy to grow. Like chickens, herbs don’t need much space, so they’re perfect for a backyard of any size.

Chicken as a superfood

 

https://larosachicken.com/what-makes-chicken-a-superfood

A superfood is nutritionally dense. It is full of fibre, fatty acids and antioxidants. These are highly useful for our health. These foods also contain healthy fats that prevent heart ailments and phytochemicals that offer numerous benefits. The most common superfoods are blueberries, sweet potatoes, beans, eggs, olive oil, kale, nuts and salmon. However, a scientific study by Chicken Farmers of Canada confirmed that chicken too should be labeled a superfood. It contains all the health benefits and nutrients, like protein and niacin, that are characteristics of superfoods. It offers maximum nutritional benefits and minimum calories. It should therefore be added to our daily diet.

Egg as a superfood

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-reasons-why-eggs-are-the-healthiest-food-on-the-planet

If any food item deserves the ‘superfood’ tag, it is eggs. This ingredient is a staple in a variety of dishes and has an excellent nutritional profile. Eggs can be consumed at any time of the day and provide protein, 13 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Besides being rich in proteins, eggs contain essential nutrients and minerals such as vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids, folate, riboflavin (Vitamin B2). The list of its nutritional prowess seems endless as it also contains selenium, vitamins A, E, B5, B12, as well as iron, iodine and phosphorus. These factors boost metabolism, aid heart health and play an important role in improving mental health.

National Quality Standards

1.2.1 Intentional Teaching. Educators are deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.

1.2.2 Responsive teaching. Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions and feedback.

3.2.3 Environmentally responsible. The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

Kids College Philosophy quote

“We aim to enhance the children’s understanding of the world around them through a developmentally appropriate program of activities rich with opportunities and information to spark a child’s imagination and curiosity.”

“We also embed sustainability and recycling at Kids College to support our place in our modern global climate of environmental responsibility.”

Kids College Family

At Kids College Childcare we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input.

Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Join our Kids College family community and share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on Jennifer@kidscollege.com

With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the

‘village it takes to raise a child’

Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family