School chick-hatching projects are supposedly designed to teach students about life cycles. That’s a cool aim for a lesson, but do we really need to drag hatch animals into it?
This classroom experiment involves placing fertilized chickens’ eggs in incubators until they hatch. Sometimes, the eggs arrive accompanied by live chicks, who are used to entertain students while they’re waiting for the eggs to hatch. This sounds pretty sketchy.
The following are the top five reasons why chick-hatching projects suck:
1. Chicks are sent back to the hatchery and eventually killed once the project is over.
Most commercial hatcheries that sell chicks for hatching projects instruct teachers to send the birds back when the experiment is finished. The providers avoid mentioning the fate of returned chicks in their sales pitches, because the birds are likely killed. Ugh. Once they’ve been handled by students in environments where they could be exposed to illness, commercial breeding operations can no longer use them, so they’re usually discarded like trash.
2. They need their moms!
Chickens love their families, form complex social bonds, and value their lives, yet when they’re used as classroom teaching tools, they will never even get to meet their moms! They’re denied everything that they need to be happy.
Even before they’re hatched, chicks need their mothers, who carefully rotate the eggs up to 30 times a day to maintain the proper temperature, moisture levels, and positioning. Chicks hatched in an incubator can become sick and deformed as they develop because their needs aren’t met during incubation. For example, their organs can stick to the sides of the shell if the eggs aren’t rotated properly.
3. They’re intelligent and have unique personalities.
Scientists agree that chickens’ complex social structures and good memories are undeniable signs of advanced intelligence. People who have spent time with these birds know that—just like dogs, cats, and humans—they’re all individuals with distinct personalities. But in chick-hatching projects, they’re treated as nothing more than classroom equipment, which teaches students the wrong lessons.
4. Their communication skills are lit (or, you know, impressive).
Chickens have more than 30 types of vocalization, and a mother hen begins to teach these calls to her chicks before they’ve even hatched (aww!). Denying animals the chance to develop this sort of bond—for any reason—is unacceptable and pretty much cancels out the educational purpose of these projects, which is to foster a curiosity about and respect for life.
5. Chick-hatching projects are unsafe for humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chicks can look healthy but still harbor salmonella. People who hold, cuddle, or kiss them—or even touch objects close to their living area—may be exposed to the bacteria, which can cause serious illness.
If your school carries out one of these cruel projects, contact us at [email protected] and we’ll help you take action!
Want to help even more chicks? Leave them off your plate! Check out our Guide to Going Vegan.