Sanitation concernsCuci_tangan_pakai_sabun.jpg

  • Are chicks safe to hatch and handle in classroom settings?
    As long as you know what to do, classroom hatching projects are easy to keep sanitary. Here are some articles that will help teachers maintain safe, healthy hatching projects: Chicks in the Classroom: Health Risks

Assessing Chick Health

  • What if an egg doesn't hatch?
    There are many reasons that an egg may not hatch, especially if you keep the eggs in your classroom for the full 21 days. Even commercial chicken hatcheries usually only get around 80% hatch rate. Please keep this in mind and do not be discouraged if you lose some chicks along the way. For an excellent tutorial on increasing the hatch rate of chicks in a 21-day hatching experiment, read this "Hatching Eggs 101" article from Backyard Chickens.

    If you purchased 18-day eggs from Utah Agriculture in the Classroom (pickup at Thanksgiving Point) the odds are higher that your chicks will be fine because the eggs are candled and monitored for health right up until the date of pickup. To ensure the best success rate with these chicks, be sure to bring an insulated cooler. For teachers who will be driving long distances, adding a heating element to the cooler can be very helpful as long as it is not overly hot. Some ideas for heating elements include warm water bottles, a hot rice pack (a sewn felt bag with rice inside that can be heated in the microwave), or even hand warmers like "Hot Hands" that can be found in grocery stores. NOTE: Please use caution with these heating elements because overly-hot temperatures can be as damaging or even worse for chicks than slightly cold temperatures. It is wise to test out your heating system ahead of time, using a thermometer to track the temperature changes inside the cooler over time.

  • What if a chick dies?
    The sad truth of classroom hatch projects is that some chicks may not survive. Teachers should prepare their students for this possibility, and even if there turns out to be no problem the students will still have an understanding of death as part of the lifecycle. Further, if something does go wrong, students who are prepared for this possibility will have an easier time dealing with the emotional aspect of a chick's passing than students who are surprised by such an event.

  • A chick has pipped open its shell but stopped pecking or can't get out. Should I help it?
    This is truly up to you, but here are some considerations that may help you make your decision:
    • If you do not help the chick:
      It will mostly likely die in its shell on its own. This can be hard for children, but they may also be able to understand that death is part of the lifecycle. If the chick passes on its own, students may get this message and be able to accept the chick's death.
    • If you do help the chick:
      You are taking a chance that it will survive. Sometimes it will and sometimes it will not. Usually, if a chick is too weak to break out of its shell there is a reason for that problem. Some chicks helped out of their shell will have deformities and will die within hours while others suffer on for days. On the other hand, if the humidity is too low some chicks will just be too dry to slide out of the egg and will be perfectly healthy after they recover from their initial shock. Unfortunately, there is really no way of knowing ahead of time how successful you will be at helping.

      Be cautious though: sometimes chicks are simply not be ready to hatch and can actually be damaged by puncturing the shell, exposing the chick's yolk sac, or even pulling it off altogether. Any of these things can lead to the chick's suffering and death. If students are present, they will no longer see this event as a natural part of the lifecycle. Instead, their emotional reaction will be to view the instructor as the reason that the chick did not survive, making it more difficult to discuss in a scientific context. Students may also be disappointed or saddened by chicks that live and suffer for a few hours before dying more so than they are when the chick's can't hatch at all.

      If you do choose to help the chick, be very careful and follow the procedures at http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/9316/intervention-helping-your-chicks-hatch for the best possible success rate. Keep in mind that all other chicks in the incubator need the consistent temperature and humidity that the incubator provides as they hatch. If you help a chick out of an egg, be sure that you only open the incubator after the rest of the chicks have successfully hatched and are ready to move to the brooder. Waiting as long as possible before helping the chick will also increase the chances that its body is physiologically ready to be in the outside world.

      Regardless of which choice you make, be sure to explain and share the experience with your students. They will benefit from understanding this important lesson on life and death and they will avoid the confusing feelings associated with chicks that just disappear from school one day with no explanation.

  • A chick has hatched but is unhealthy/deformed/suffering. What should I do?
    Again, you are the best judge of what is appropriate for the chick and students in this situation. Sometimes a natural death is easiest for students, but then again, they may have equally as hard of a time picturing the chick in pain before dying anyway. Euthanasia is a difficult decision, but if you are certain that the chick will die regardless and that it's suffering is excessive, it can be a compassionate option. There are many ways to euthanize chicks, and the method is largely irrelevant as long as the chick's suffering is minimized by the procedure (and not extended!). Be decisive, explain your decision to your students, and emphasize that these chicks provided an important role in furthering scientific learning.