School Chick, Duckling and Quail Hatching Projects: Not All They Are Cracked Up To Be!
Every spring, schools incubate and hatch baby chicks, ducklings and quail. These projects teach children the wrong lessons—that animals are disposable items and that it is okay not to provide animals with safe and caring homes. Hatching projects are by no means humane and do not teach children positive, responsible treatment of animals. Here are some reasons why:
Mother Knows Best: A mother bird knows exactly how to tend to her eggs. She knows how to regulate egg temperature and when to turn them. Mom chickens, ducks and quail even talk to their babies in their shell! Incubators are lousy substitutes for a Mother. Incubators malfunction. Birds hatched from incubators are often born deformed and sickly with body parts stuck to their shells or outside their bodies. Dehydration, malnutrition and hypothermia goes unnoticed. Medical intervention from an avian veterinarian is not provided—yet another bad lesson for the children.
Not Handled with Care: Once hatched, these tiny birds are quite fragile. They need constant warmth and oversight, something only a Mother bird can offer. Too delicate for eager young squeezing hands, even supervised children grab and unintentionally kill these hatchlings. I trust YOU: These birds imprint and form a strong attachment to the first object they see so they quickly become used to people. They learn to trust people yet they are confused to their own identity--they have no adult bird to teach them how to be a bird. People enjoy interacting with these human-sensitive babies but these trusting animals will soon be betrayed. The program is finished and now the teacher needs to “get rid of them.”
Good-Bye and Good Luck! And so these fast growing birds, who are totally dependent on humans, “must go”—but where? The children are told they will “live happily ever after on a farm” when in fact, chicks and ducklings brought back to hatcheries are slaughtered. Although it is illegal, people dump chickens in parks and ducks at ponds. Here they are killed by predators, get hit by cars or die miserable deaths from thirst, starvation and exposure. Those white ducks you see at ponds are flightless domestic Pekin ducks. They will eat stale bread tossed to them but it is not a sustainable diet. In Winter, these once cherished ducklings, will be found dead and frozen in the iced over pond. School-hatched chicks have been incinerated alive and suffocated in plastic bags then tossed like trash into school dumpsters. Just like dogs and cats, chicks and ducklings cannot survive on their own nor are there enough forever-homes for them.
Bob-White! Bob-White! Baby quail hatched in schools suffer and die terribly as well. Like chicks and ducklings, hatched quail need the warmth and protection of their Mother's wings. They need parent quail to teach them how to live. Incubators can not do that. The NJ Division of Fish, Game & Wildlife has come up with a devious program called “Quail in the Classroom”, encouraging classrooms to hatch baby quail. They do not tell the children that these human-trusting quail will be released at special wildlife management areas where dogs practice catching and maiming them and hunters shoot them. Read more here.
Why should these innocent baby birds, now accustomed to people, be shot at and used for dogs’ “practice kills”? For more information about quails, read here.
School hatching projects betray the trust of children and birds alike. They are cruel, antiquated and unnecessary. If you know of any schools or organizations that do hatching projects, please share these realities with them and suggest they use these free activities, lesson plans and books instead: ”Hatching Good Lessons: Alternatives to School Hatching Projects” and read more here.