This is a photo of our homeschool lesson for today. Without our permission, one of our hens decided she wanted to be a mama and fiercely defended the eggs I wanted to gather three weeks ago. Today, here is the result of our waiting, and boy! are they worth it. We have five baby chicks — 3 yellow (one with a top hat of black), one black (with a top hat of white) and one brown with a black stripe. She is still setting on the final 5 eggs. I had written “Baby” on the eggs that she was hatching, so we could gather any future eggs for ourselves. See the chick’s beak?
If you are using this photo to teach your kids about chicks, tell them:
- It takes about 8 hours for the little guy to peck all the way through an egg shell (believe me; we watched it for that long!)
- You cannot help a chick hatch. It has to do this tough job for itself, or the chick will be too weak to live. Cracking the shell gives the chick strength.
- The day before the chick hatches, if you put the egg to your ear, you will hear “pipping.” That’s the word for the little tap-tap-tap noise that the chick makes as it tries to crack the egg from the inside.
- Its beak has a sharp point that cracks the egg. Within a day, that sharp point falls off the beak.
- When it is first born, it is wet and cannot walk. Soon, within an hour or two after birth, it starts to dry out and can walk.
- For the first few days, the chick doesn’t even need water or food, because just before it hatched, it ate the inside of the egg shell, which has high nutritional value.
- Nobody knows how, but the mama hen knows which eggs will hatch and which eggs are “duds.” She will stay on the nest long enough to hatch the lot of them, but will leave (or eat) the eggs without a chick inside.
(Originally published on my 2005-2008 Keeping the Home blog)