Early this morning, a small hole appeared in one of the eggs. When we listened carefully, we could hear cheeping from the eggs! Egg-citing!
Just before playtime, the first egg hatched!
A tiny slightly soggy chick appeared. By the end of the day, the first chick dried off and became fluffy. He tried really hard to stand up to look at all the curious faces outside his incubator! Breaking out of an egg is hard work so Chick Number 1 spent lots of time sleeping!
Overnight, 5 more chicks hatched! Now, there are 6 bright yellowy-brown happy chicks!
Look at the egg shells! Did you know that egg shells are porous? There are over 7000 tiny holes (or pores) all over the shell which means that fresh air can get inside! Amazing!
By lunchtime, we had a total of 9 chicks! Some of the older chicks were dry and fluffy and were ready to be moved to their new home, the brooder box.
3 chicks are now left in the incubator. They will move to the brooder when they are stronger. Only one egg left...
The chicks in the brooder like to huddle together under the bright light to keep warm.
There are lots of reasons why an egg might not hatch and it is possible that the chick inside never developed. However, the 9 chicks that did hatch have all moved to the brooder box where they have food and water. The chicks did not need any food when they were in the incubator as they have absorbed the egg yolk before hatching. They are able to survive for up to 3 days on this.
If you look carefully at the chicks' wings, you can see tiny feathers beginning to grow! Baby chicks are covered with fluff which is replaced by feathers as they grow older. Feathers help chickens regulate their body temperature by trapping warm air against their bodies. At this stage, the chicks still need a heat source to help them keep warm, which is why we keep the lamp on for them! We don't want to them to get cold!
Baby chicks spend lots of time exploring and sleeping (a bit like human babies!) They are curious about every noise and movement. Much to the annoyance of the others, a couple of the chicks have decided that the best place to sleep is in the... food bowl!
The chicks spent all day eating, cheeping and sleeping! They are starting to grow bigger too!
Most of the chicks have developed wing feathers. They are starting to stretch their wings and flap! A couple of the braver chicks have tried to hop and flap across the brooder box!
All the chicks have now grown wing feathers. A couple of them have some tail feathers coming through. They spend lots of time preening and grooming, getting those lovely new feathers neat and tidy!
5 female chicks are now at Orion. The other 3 have returned back to the farm to join their brothers and sisters. The lucky 5 chicks have an amazing outdoor space waiting for them! At the moment, they are still too young to live outside. However, as the sun was shining and the weather was warm today, the chicks spent some time exploring the big wide world. They were very curious about the strange green stuff beneath their feet!
The chick are getting cheeky! Inside the brooder box, they are challenging each other to fly onto their feeder! The ones who make it stand very proudly and enjoy having a look around!
The sun was shining and the weather was warm today so Pet Club children took the chicks to visit their new home! The chicks (and children) had a great time!
The chicks are getting VERY feathery! They have started to flap their wings and trying very hard to fly!
The chicks had a half term holiday too! They went home with Orion adults and they grew so much in just one week! They have lost almost all their baby down and are all completely covered in feathers! They are a beautiful colour! Some of the chicks are a slightly darker red colour, see if you can notice any difference!
Some Year 3 children visited the chickens as part of a PSHE lesson on how to care for animals. The chickens enjoyed investigating these new visitors and the children loved stroking their soft feathers!
Want to meet the chickens? Pet Club children will be manning the chicken pen at lunchtime so you can meet the chickens. Children will be chosen by their teachers to meet the chickens. Each year group will have their turn on different days. Ask your teacher for more information!
The chickens have a dust bath! Chickens don't take water baths like we do, they have dust baths! To keep themselves bug-free and feeling good, the chickens will roll around in the soil. They now have a fancy dust bath filled with sand. The chickens have been enjoying using the dust bath... not for bathing, but for standing on! The bath house seems to be a popular spot for checking out what Orion children are getting up to!!
The hen house has been raised! Poor chickens were a bit confused when their ground floor home floated up and became a first floor home! They didn't know how to use the ladder to get inside so they huddled underneath!
Luckily, it was a hot sunny day so the chickens preferred being outside and loved being able to lie under the hen house, in the cool grass.
A little bit of home improvement on the tricky ladder means that the chickens are now happy and confident climbing up and down their house. Some rubbery mats were wrapped around the rungs of the ladder which helped little chicken feet get a grip!
The chickens now have different coloured leg bands which will help us identify who is who! The chickens also need names! Can you help? This chicken with the pink leg band is quite small. She will sit quietly on your hand or arm if you hold her in the way she likes. If she gets fed up with being held, she will run and hide under the hen house! What shall we call her?
This is Primrose - she has a yellow leg band. (Evening primroses are yellow flowers!)
This lady is the bossiest chicken in the coop! She has lots of white feathers on her body and is also the biggest chicken. This chicken seems to think she is a parrot! She likes to sit up high on people's shoulders and has even flown on Miss Goh's head and sat there! What would be a good name for her?
This chicken with the orange leg band is one of the smallest, reddest chickens. She is not as keen on being picked up but will allow it if you are gentle. She will tell you off if she doesn't like something by cheeping very loudly! Make sure you pay attention! What should her name be?
This chicken started off by having a blue leg band but all the others started pecking at it! The colour was bright so the other chickens became very interested. The leg band was taken off in case she got hurt, so no jewellery for this one! What's a good name for this lovely lady?
Term has ended and Orion children are all on holiday - time for the chickens to get some rest? It doesn't look like it! The chickens were quite surprised to wake up one morning to see part of the fencing surrounding their enclosure taken out! Large lorries have also been rumbling past the chickens as there are some building works taking place at school. Happily, this is not a problem! The chickens are pretty nosy and they enjoy watching all the coming and goings!
The summer holiday means that it's a great time to do a deep clean of the chicken's house and enclosure. The chicken's house is fantastic because it can be taken apart for a really thorough clean.
After the house has been cleaned, one of the chickens hopped up to inspect the work...
Just like us, chickens sleep at night. But unlike us, they sleep sitting up! Chickens will perch on their roosting bars inside their hen house to get some rest. Now that they are older, the chickens will hop up into their house by themselves and put themselves to bed when it gets dark. Chickens are flock animals, which means that they like to be around other chickens. As soon as one goes into the hen house, the others follow! Inside the house, the hens jostle and push for the best spot to sleep in and they enjoy huddling up together to keep warm.
What a fantastic first term with the chickens!
To find out about what else the chickens have been up to, click on the links below!