|27. Artificial insemination||5|
|28. Semen collection||5|
The activity of removing a fertilised egg from the shell, with the purpose of incubating it within an artificial surround, e.g. plastic film wrap, is prohibited.
The holding of fertilised eggs over 10 days old with the intention of disposing of them prior to hatching is not permitted.
Semen collection and artificial insemination in poultry requires skill and experience. If the teacher or farm assistant wishes to demonstrate the collection of semen and/or artificial insemination to students, they must first seek approval from the SACEC to demonstrate these category five activities. This approval is conditional upon the operator being able to demonstrate appropriate qualifications and experience. Application is made by completion of Application form 4 and submission to the Schools Animal Welfare Officer.
Although hens have the natural ability to become broody, hatch their eggs and raise their chickens, it is common practice to take the fertilised eggs away and hatch them using an incubator, raising the chickens by hand. This method ensures much higher success rates and an increased production level.
While this is done for production purposes, many schools also choose to hatch and raise chickens by hand to provide students with an opportunity to observe the process and learn to raise and care for a baby animal.
Hen eggs take from 19 to 21 days to hatch depending on the breed of the bird. Eggs are placed in an incubator, which keeps the eggs warm, at a suitable level of humidity and rotates them as the mother hen would turn her eggs to ensure warmth all over. The period from hatching until the chickens no longer require supplementary heat is called the ‘brooding period’ and usually lasts for 3–6 weeks. Chickens need supplementary heat when they first hatch, because they are unable to maintain their body temperatures. The heat can be supplied by a broody hen or when being hand raised, with a heat lamp.
Chick hatching programs
There are commercial companies that provide a clutch of fertile eggs, the necessary equipment to hatch and brood the eggs and information to support the activity within a school, in return for a fee.
Before engaging with a such a program, teachers need to consider the purpose, planning and management of these programs. Below are some questions to assist with this consideration:
- What is the purpose of the chick hatching program for your students. Consider the curriculum links and where it will be used in your teaching and learning programs. You may wish to visit Educational justification.
- What knowledge do you have about the care and management of chicks for their early days of life? You may find the information at Small scale poultry keeping – brooding and rearing chickens and Fowls – environment helpful.
- Do you feel comfortable handling poultry and young chicks? Further information can be found at Fowls – handling.
- How will the chicks be monitored over the weekend? Animal welfare legislation states that animals used for teaching must be monitored on a day to day basis.
- What have you done to prepare your students for participation in the chick hatching program? You may need to consider that some students may be fearful of birds.
- Have you considered alternatives to using live animals to meet the educational outcomes?
- Have you considered the fate of the chicks hatched in this program, including the rooster chicks?
- What biosecurity measures do you have in place around the chick hatching program? You may need to consider alternative activities for any student that lives on a poultry farm or has a parent working on a poultry farm.
- If a chick dies during the time the time the program is running, what procedures do you have in place to manage the occurrence? This may include disposal and discussions with the students.