Published: 00:01, 20 June 2017
An animal charity is warning against a growing trend of hatching chicks in classrooms.
Many schools and nurseries are using so-called chick kits so children can see chickens hatch from eggs as part of their learning.
But Anim-Mates Animal Rescue is urging teachers to reconsider taking such a project on.
The Ash-based charity, which used to operate out of Medway, has had to house dozens of chickens, and is regularly asked to take more when chicks outgrow their incubators.
The chick kits are sold to schools, nursing homes and nurseries by companies that often source their eggs from commercial hatcheries.
The equipment typically consists of seven fertilised eggs, an incubator and a brooder box, and can cost up to £300.
The projects usually last two weeks, after which it is left up to schools to dispose of the chicks.
Some companies take the chicks back, but many are killed as unwanted produce.
Anim-Mates honorary secretary Dennis White said: “Publicity blurbs sent to schools boast that children can experience the miracle of life by watching chicks hatch from their eggs.
“At the end of the fortnight the schools have to dispose of the chicks.
“Some firms treat them as unwanted goods and charge to take them back, claiming they will sell them to free-range farms.
“However, most of these chicks end up being slaughtered, often in shocking ways.
“Is it really right to educate children that animals are disposable items at the end of lessons?
“It beggars belief schools are hoodwinked like this and buy into an ever-growing animal-cruelty industry.”
"It beggars belief schools are hoodwinked like this and buy into an ever-growing animal-cruelty industry" - Dennis White
Even those chicks that are adopted often end up having to be cared for by charities such as Anim-Mates.
“Unfortunately, once the novelty wears off, some people tire of the endless clearing up and commitment,” Dennis said.
“That’s when Anim-Mates and other charities are called upon to rescue the once cute chicks.
“We have to persuade the schools not to have this fortnightly project.
“We have to go to the source of the problem to solve it.”
But one Kent company says it is different to other providers of chick kits.
Incredible Eggs South East, based in Sandwich, provide ethically sourced eggs to schools which would otherwise be hatching on their farms.
After the two week kit is over they accommodate and rear all birds themselves.
Manager Jane Stuart, said: “Our company is different to many providers in that we are first and foremost established, reputable poultry breeders in our own right.
“Although we allow the purchasing of our birds by schools and the general public where appropriate, we discourage any kind of impulsive rehoming.
“We clearly state on our website that we do not support the rehoming of our birds with animal sanctuaries, as their resources should be reserved for genuine welfare cases.
“Whilst we cannot speak on behalf of the practices of others offering this service, we do urge schools to choose their hatching provider with care.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.