The Nursery children recently welcomed into our school a couple of visitors from the nearby Surrey Dock Farms. We have just started to learn about growth, and how different animals develop from first being born to becoming independent. Our friends from Surrey Docks came prepared for the visit with a wonderful talk all about how chickens lay eggs that then hatch to become baby chicks.
The Nursery children certainly weren’t expecting the surprise of a fully-grown mother hen and a father cockerel to be introduced from inside a large box. Another wonderful surprise was the news that we are going to take care of some chicken eggs and hopefully hatch them in an incubator in the Michael Faraday Nursery!
We heard first about how the mother hen hatches her eggs. We were then able to observe the hen and cockerel, and to think about ways in which they are similar, but also different. The cockerel was much larger and made a louder noise. He also had a darker selection of feathers.
The Nursery children were encouraged to answer a series of questions: what do the chickens eat? How big can chicks grow? And what is the best way to look after a newborn chick?
This information will hopefully become useful over the next three weeks when we will be taking great care of the eggs in the incubator that has been left with us. The children have been told what temperature we need to leave the incubator at, and how it carries out the same role of the mother hen sitting on the eggs with her warm bottom.
Once the eggs have hatched, the Nursery children will be looking after the chicks in the brooder. This is an aquarium type container that will also have some food and drink to help the chicks grow. The children will need to keep the brooder clean as they observe the growth of the Nursery chicks.
Our friends from Surrey Docks Farm then explained how the chicks will be very delicate once they are born. It is fine to observe them from within the brooder, but it is probably best not to handle them. We will be monitoring the growth of the chicks on a daily basis in the Nursery, as well as providing updates on the Michael Faraday website. When they are strong enough to look after themselves, the chicks will return to Surrey Docks Farm. The Nursery children are already planning a visit later in the term to see how the chicks continue to grow and develop.