NEW HAVEN — …The chicken or the egg.
The students of Shayla Blackshire’s fourth grade class at New Haven Elementary School may have learned the answer to this familiar question, along with loads of other information on the hatching and care of baby chicks with the help of Sean and Kim Cullen.
Over the past week, students have been anxiously awaiting the hatching of their baby chicks, which they started incubating earlier this month. Students had to wait 22 days for the chicks to hatch. Sean Cullen stated it normally takes 21 days, but due to a slight temperature fluctuation in the incubator, it took an extra day before the chicks started to emerge from their eggs.
Both Sean and Kim Cullen work as animal health inspectors, which means they travel around to various places to check animals for certain diseases, which they also discussed with the kids. In addition to checking animals around the area, they present this same activity to other elementary classrooms. In addition to New Haven, the Cullens have done this same project with students at Roosevelt and Ashton Elementary schools, and schools in Jackson County as well. Sean stated they travel around to various schools in order to inform students about what it takes to raise poultry, inform them about diseases they can carry, and teach them about hatching and incubation.
The Cullens covered just about everything one could think of when it comes to eggs and hatching chicks. Sean brought several different kinds of eggs to compare the sizes, including an emu egg, a quail egg, and a bird egg. He also discussed some old wives tales about predicting the gender of the chick, such as the shape of the egg itself, and the temperature it is kept prior to hatching. He concluded that the only way to tell is by waiting for the chick to be born. He also spoke on a few physical features they can use in order to tell a rooster from a hen, including a rooster’s long feathery tail.
After the chicks hatched, students were able to take one home with them, but not before they were set up to properly care for it. The Cullens had boxes for the chick’s journey to their new home, as well as a special bag of food. Sean Cullen talked on these bags of food, and how it contained certain items to help the chick grow and stay healthy.
In addition to the baby chicks, the Cullens also brought a couple of special guests for the students to see; a lamb and a goat. Sean talked on many aspects of these two animals as well, including tagging their ears and how it helps track the animals and their coats and what they are used for.
The students also learned about “imprinting” which is the term for when animals think the first animal, or human, they see is their mother. Kim stated the goat had imprinted her as its mother, since she is primarily the one who feeds them. Blackshire reminded the kids if they spend a lot of time with their chicks, they may imprint them as their mother, or father.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Blackshire said.