June 22, 2017
Director of SACC (school age child care that participated in hatching project)
Director of office for children
Principal of Westgate elementary school
Principal of Spring Hill elementary school
Dear Fairfax County Administrators and Educators:
I am writing to you on behalf of United Poultry Concerns in response to a parent who expressed concern to us about the classroom chick hatching project her son was exposed to in May. Her concerns, which we share, are twofold.
First is the fact that the chicks are incubated in a machine without any nurturing from the mother hen. Students are taught to believe that chicks do not have, or need, parents, which is untrue. The mechanical incubator does not, and cannot, duplicate the complex care that a mother hen instinctively gives to her embryos as they develop inside their eggs. This is one big reason why so many classroom chicks are sickly, dehydrated and crippled at birth.
Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging parents and teachers about the danger of transmittable Salmonella infection from chicks to children, due to the pollution, stress and other inimical factors inherent in the hatcheries that produce the eggs that are used in school classrooms. Between 2009 and 2017, the CDC has issued reports documenting the high risk of Salmonella transmission from baby chicks and ducklings to infants and children especially although all ages are vulnerable to contracting a Salmonella bacterial infection from proximity to poultry. Just this year, the CDC reported eight separate Salmonella outbreaks linked to contact with “pet” poultry in the U.S., sickening more than 370 people in 47 states and hospitalizing 71 people.
In a new 2017 advisory, the CDC warns that elderly people and small children are especially vulnerable to serious illness from Salmonella bacteria, noting that this year a third of those who got sick were under five years old. “Chicks, ducklings and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria,” the CDC said. https://www.cdc.gov/zoonotic/gi/outbreaks/livepoultry.html
Given the humane issues involved in bringing birds into the world without the genetic and environmental optimization they need to be healthy, and given the related vulnerability of these birds and of children and others who come into contact with them, we support the parent who urges that classroom chick-hatching projects in Fairfax County be replaced with safe, humane educational activities that teach students to understand and appreciate birds without the risk of Salmonella infection.
We provide a range of classroom activities and learning exercises in our
booklet Hatching Good Lessons: Alternatives to School Hatching Projects:
Thank you kindly for your attention and consideration. I will be more than happy to speak with you directly by email at Karen@upc-online.org or by phone at 757-678-7875.
Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes the
compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. http://www.upc-online.org
Federal ID: 52-1705678