New York State Bill to Ban Chick-Hatching Projects: PLEASE SUPPORT & Learn Why!

Hatched chick standing in an incubator next to eggs.
A dismal beginning for a baby bird. Where are the parents? Where is the natural world?

New York State residents are urged to help ban classroom chick-hatching projects in the state. Learn about Assembly Bill No. A06905, including contact information for all NYS Assembly members:

  • Please express your support to the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, here:

    Linda B. Rosenthal -- District 67
    230 West 72nd Street
    Suite 2F
    New York, NY 10023

    LOB 627
    Albany, NY 12248

  • Please urge your own NYS District Assembly Member to support Assembly Bill A06905. This bill has the potential to stop the use of thousands of chicks throughout New York State and could set a precedent for other states as well. Thank you for taking action!

Background on Classroom Chick-Hatching Projects

By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

Many people fail to perceive chickens as needing their parents. In the tropical forests where chickens evolved, hens and roosters care for their chicks from the moment they search together for a desirable nesting spot.

The school hatching programs that began in the 1950s mislead children (and some teachers) to think that chickens come from mechanical incubators. Supplemental facts about the role of the rooster and the hen, even if provided, cannot compete with the barren mechanized classroom experience. Each year, kindergarten and elementary schools place thousands of fertilized eggs in classroom incubators to be hatched within three or four weeks. They’re encouraged to do this by the school district’s science coordinators and the biological supply companies, which advertise fertile eggs and “easy-to-use” incubators in their catalogs.

hen_with_chicks (32K)
Photo of chicken family in the Florida Everglades by Davida G. Breier.

Hatching-project birds are deprived of a mother hen – a big reason why so many classroom chicks are sickly, dehydrated and crippled at birth. Chick organs stick to the sides of the shell as a result of not being properly turned in the mechanical incubators. By contrast, a mother hen turns each of her eggs, individually, as often as 30 times a day, using her body, her feet and her beak to move each egg precisely to maintain proper temperature, moisture, ventilation, humidity and positioning of each embryo she is sitting on. The embryos signal their needs and she responds with the necessary adjustment of her eggs. Mechanical incubators do not match the care and precision of the mother hen.

When the hatching project is over, the surviving chicks must be disposed of. Since most children bond with young animals, students are often told, and some teachers may believe, that the chicks are going to live “happily on a farm” when in reality, most will be destroyed.

In other cases, classroom chicks are sold to live poultry markets, fed to captive zoo animals, or abandoned. Some end up in animal shelters where they are either killed or, in rare cases, adopted out. Sanctuaries encounter this situation routinely.

Hatching projects encourage children to view baby animals as disposable objects and toys instead of fellow creatures requiring a lifetime of care and commitment. They encourage children to want to bring more baby animals into the world, like litters of puppies and kittens that no one wants after the “miracle of birth” has worn off. They place a burden on animal shelters and busy parents who can’t keep the birds, especially when they turn out to be roosters.

And while children should be learning the responsibility of veterinary care for animals who depend on them, most schools do not provide veterinary care for birds who are born sick and deformed in these projects. Flushing sick birds down the toilet and throwing them in dumpsters are among the many stories we’ve heard, including a classroom quail-hatching program in New Jersey providing quails for canned “hunts.”

Teachers are urged to replace chick-hatching projects with programs and activities that inspire students to appreciate, respect, and learn about the amazing life of birds on our planet and in their neighborhoods. There’s a wealth of video and sanctuary education on the Internet and a growing number of sanctuaries for student field trips.

What Can I Do?

If you have a child or know of children whose teacher, school or school district is planning to hatch chicks, ducklings, quails or other birds in classroom incubators, please object. Please read and share our information with educators and parents. Parent-teacher meetings provide opportunities to publicize the issue and enlist parental support to end these projects in favor of humane education.

For more information please visit:
Hatching Good Lessons: Alternatives To School Hatching Projects

Home for Henny
Melanie is a 3rd grader who is excited about a chick hatching-project in her class at school. The project seemed like a good idea at first, but unexpected problems arise and the whole class learns a lesson in compassion. When the project is over, Melanie adopts one of the chicks she names Henny. A Home for Henny explores the challenges and concerns with school hatching projects while evoking the lively personality of Henny and her loving relationship with Melanie. Grades K-4.
Do you have elementary school-age children at home? Nieces or Nephews? Friends with children? A Home for Henny is the perfect story to teach children compassion for chickens and why chick-hatching programs don’t belong in our schools. Donate a copy (or several!) to your local elementary schools and the children’s section of your local libraries. $6.99. Order 5 copies for $15.