What happened to these small chicks after a school hatching program?
When special education teacher’s aide, Alex Vince, learned that his school was organising a chick hatching program, he was determined to make sure those chicks were some of the lucky few that found a safe and loving home when the project was finished. Read his story below. Learn about the problems with chick hatching programs here.
ALEX VINCE – Last term my school decided to take part in a chick hatching program. As some of you may know, these programs fail miserably in teaching growing minds the key tenets of compassion, kindness and respect for other living beings.
My little group of Animal Club students were undoubtedly excited about the experience, and they loved seeing the chicks develop. Although the wonder of watching a life blossom before our eyes is something magical, when we realise just how these lives are being lived – ostensibly for our benefit – the magnificence quickly begins to break down.
Did you know? Each year, thousands of baby chicks are born in preschools and primary schools across Australia. After chicks have bonded with their student carers, they are taken back to suppliers at around one week old. Males chicks are killed because they offer no value to egg producers, while females are usually used in food production.
Born in a plastic container
The chicks were housed in a plastic container, kept warm by a heat lamp instead of their mother, and at the end of their time at school were to be packed up and sent back to the company that provided them as eggs. As a teacher, I was in a position to intervene, although not as early as I’d have liked, and my attempts to have the program cancelled were fruitless. On the last day at school, I went with two Animal Club students to take the newborn chicks to my car, and everyone had their last goodbyes.
Finding a safe home
Taking to social media, appeals for forever homes for eight little chicks were met with such warmth that I felt, as I sometimes do, that the community that cares for animals is the one I am happiest to belong to. Sanctuaries across New South Wales, members of many groups, and some amazing efforts by individuals managed to find a home for all eight little lives. They now live together, with adult roosters, hens, goats, sheep, pigs, and many other rescued animals, at Sugarshine, a wonderful sanctuary near Lismore. Not only will these beautiful animals live as they want to, but they have given all who met them memories and a fuller heart.
For me, their story is not one of rescue but of duty – a duty of kindness and compassion. On the afternoon we drove together from school, by coincidence and cruel chance, a truck passed us on the motorway carrying countless chickens to slaughter. What I wouldn’t have given to take them all. For these eight, kindness won. For this, and for the selfless help that so many gave to help them get there, I am grateful.
Special thanks to Alessandra Rocci who shared her bedroom with eight chicks, Emma Hurst, Hazel Stephens, Bede Carmody, Neva Hartman, Billie Dean, Janenne who transported the chicks all the way from Sydney to Lismore and Fox Flossie and all the kind folk at Sugarshine. You can show your support by visiting their Facebook page and donating towards the growth and upkeep of their sanctuary here.
You can also contribute towards the care of these eight lucky chicks by donating towards Sugarshine’s monthly adoption program from as little as $5 a month for each chick.
Interested in starting an animal rights club in your school? Download our free Kindness Club Starter’s Kit here.
Photos by Fox Flossie and Alessandra Rocci.