MSU Extension Service offers poultry education

By Keri Collins Lewis
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE ­ With the arrival of spring, hatching chicks is a popular
topic of conversation in many Mississippi classrooms.

Mississippi State University Extension experts are accepting requests for
their hatch-out program, which takes the stress out of the egg-hatching
process and allows educators to focus on the learning process.

³Teachers can contact us, and we¹ll bring an incubator with eggs that have
already incubated for 18 days,² said Jessica Wells, Extension instructor at
MSU¹s Department of Poultry Science. ³They¹ll hatch over a three-day period.
Teachers don¹t have to handle or rotate the eggs, nor do they have to worry
about taking care of the chicks over the weekend.²

Wells delivers the eggs on Monday mornings, along with a small aquarium
equipped with litter, a heat lamp, feed and water — everything teachers
need to share a week-long learning experience with their students.

³They can see the chicks hatch, put them in the aquarium, and watch them for
that week. I¹ll come back on Friday, answer questions, and talk about the
entire process they observed,² she said. ³A lot of teachers do it around
Easter, but I conduct the program year-round, including at child care
programs during the summer. I just need 21 days¹ notice.²

Wells will take the hatch-out program anywhere in the state.

³Many kids have no idea how we hatch and raise chickens, or where their food
comes from besides the store,² she said. ³They don¹t know the process the
food goes through before it is on a plate at the table. It¹s great to see
their knowledge expand as they engage in this learning process. Even
children as young as kindergarteners — I get to see their wheels start to
turn and see them put together the puzzle pieces for themselves. It¹s a
great learning tool and lots of fun for the students.²

Jana Everett, a fourth-grade teacher at Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary
School in Starkville, said MSU¹s hatching program is always popular with her
students. She uses the experience to integrate science and language arts.

³I have tied it into our reading of Charlotte¹s Web to make the story come
alive, so my students can see it instead of just reading about it,² Everett
said. ³I¹ve gotten really good responses from students as they watch the
whole process. It¹s mind-boggling to some of them ­ we eat eggs and chicken,
and this egg can grow into a chicken.²

To schedule the hatch-out program, contact Wells at (662) 325-3416 or
jlb572@poultry.msstate.edu.