If you take part in hatching projects, check that they are ethically sourced and run from start to finish, says Jane Stuart…
Ethics should always be considered wherever human involvement with other living creatures occurs – and classroom hatching is no exception.
Look online and speak directly with providers. Do they advocate for high-welfare farming methods? Some organisations may be involved in conservation efforts or social enterprises. Choose a hatching provider whose values, ethics and practices resonate with you.
There are many types of farms and hatcheries, from large-scale, industrial and intensive ‘factory farms’ to providers who keep their own poultry on traditionally run farms and smallholdings.
Find out how the farm or hatchery is run and the conditions the birds are kept in. Animal welfare should be paramount.
The offspring of domesticated poultry breeds thrive on gentle human interaction, enjoy it and actively seek it out. This is a wonderful thing for children and adults alike to experience – and a real ‘confidence giver’, especially to those unused to handling and caring for animals.
Which staff members will feel confident to introduce, oversee, manage and share this aspect with young children? Discuss beforehand who will be responsible for the birds over the weekend. Will they be tended to in the setting or go home with a member of staff?
In addition to providing comprehensive, clear guides, a good hatching provider will also supply you with a contact number.
As with any animal, although the vast majority come into this world healthy and strong, on rare occasions a bird may hatch with problems, or questions may crop up. You should be able to contact an experienced poultry breeder if these situations ever arise.
Look for a provider who has their own high-welfare facilities in place, capable of accommodating all hatched birds after your hatching project.
They’ll also have responsible, established outlets available to them – perhaps by growing the birds on and supplying hobbyists, smallholders or domestic keepers with quality livestock, for example.
Asking for as much information as possible about rehoming birds will allow you to make an informed choice about the provider.
Respecting living things must extend beyond the classroom if your hatching experience is to be a truly ethical one. The birds involved deserve nothing less.
Jane Stuart is the founder of Incredible Eggs. Jane previously worked as a teacher and, alongside her partner Toby, has been breeding poultry for many years, preserving the biodiversity of old heritage breeds.