Photo of Tamerlaine resident Ming-Ming, hatching project survivor with wry neck
We get so many calls every year from teachers who realize after they have a bunch of fuzzy, beautiful chicks or ducklings in their classrooms that they did not think this project through. Not only did they bring these beautiful lives into the world with no thought to the future of these birds, but now after the children have fallen in love with them, they either have to give them back to the farm that has facilitated the eggs or they have a bunch of chicks or ducklings with no homes to send them to. They realize if they go back to the farm, these babies that they have all fallen in love with will go back into the food production system. Not a very nice life for a beloved pet.
Many chicks and ducklings that are incubated via hatching projects develop crippling sicknesses or deformities. Mother hens and ducks naturally know how to care for their eggs, and do a wonderful job. She monitors the temperature, moisture, ventilation, humidity, and positioning of each baby inside every one of her eggs, and may turn her eggs as much as 30 times a day! However, classrooms frequently do not turn the eggs as well as the babies' mothers would have, and as a result, the babies hatch deformed.
Ming-Ming, pictured above, is a hatching project survivor who suffers from wry neck, a painful condition that causes a twisted neck, and is all too common in hatching project chicks. Other hatching project babies that reside at Tamerlaine who have experienced deformities due to their pasts in the hatching project world include: Peeps, whose leg is twisted to face towards the sky, making daily activities like walking, standing, and sitting a chore; Lemon, whose toes were too deformed to stand; Leonardo the duckling, whose legs were twisted under him and feet were folded in, making him completely immobile. While all the lives that come into this world through hatching projects are unique, these life-changing deformities and illnesses are horrifically common among them.
Salmonella infections are also another issue for hatching projects, and both children and teachers can become infected. Some children also have egg allergies and experience complications due to the hatching projects in the classrooms. Besides these health issues for teachers and students, there is also the emotional trauma of relinquishing babies back to the farms to be slaughtered.
Once teachers realize they cannot morally send these beautiful babies back to the farms to be killed, there are more issues that arise. Because of zoning requirements in certain areas, many people are not allowed to keep chickens - especially roosters. This creates a surplus of roosters, because more than half of the eggs are likely to be roosters.
Hatching projects put a strain on shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries. These animals would not have needed a home if they were not laid and raised for hatching projects, which would provide more space for places to rescue animals from other life-threatening situations, which can be found on the other sections under the "Learn" tab.
Raising animals and then giving them away also creates a perception of nonhuman animals that is less than ideal. While the teachers hope to teach students about the cycles of life, the children are also being taught that it is acceptable to raise other animals for disposal. This idea creates a culture that allows for billions of animals to be slaughtered, left in shelters, and other terrible situations for a life to be enslaved to.
Thankfully, there are people who recognize that hatching projects are not the joyous educational opportunity they are presented to be. If you are looking for an alternative to a hatching project, please visit the United Poultry Concern's article (click here) on hatching projects for better learning opportunities that do not involve killing the wonderful lives that were brought into this world by the care of loving children.