You will have to be creative for some of the activities and use what you already have at home and use your imagination. l have also posted a picture of chickens – hopefully someone in your house will be able to print it off for you so you can colour it in on your own . l am also hoping to post a short movie every week about our topic. This week, on the farm, one of our hens has hatched out three chicks so l thought we would start with looking at Chickens.
At NBF we have about twenty four chickens of various breeds and ages – two of them are cockerels – Kellogs and Charlie , some of them are chicks and the rest of them are layers. If you are keeping chickens it is a good idea to keep a cockerel as well – it is lovely to hear our two cockerels cock–a-doodling– in the mornings – although some of our guests don’t like it !
The cockerels are very good at looking after their wives and by having a cockerel it gives all the the eggs our chickens lay the possibility of being fertile. The layers are our female hens that lay an egg , hopefully everyday – unless they go broody ( which is usually in the Spring) which is when they would like to sit on a clutch of eggs.
lf our hens go broody we put them in a special broody box – away from the other chickens that would try and lay their eggs in there as well and sometimes even eat the other hen’s eggs ! We usually sit them six eggs. Everyday you must remember to give that chicken food and water because she won’t go and get it on her own. Then twenty one days later the eggs will hatch – usually about 50% hatch into chickens and the other eggs are quite often infertile.
The chickens live in an old stable with an attached large paddock which they can access whenever they want. Chickens love to peck around in the grass finding nice bugs to eat and eating grit which helps them digest their food. They also need this outside space in order to clean themselves, chickens take dust baths. They dig a small pit in the ground and use the dirt to help to get rid of their mites and help to oil their feathers.
The chickens must also have shelter where they can get away from the hot sun and rain. l expect you are wondering what else they eat ? They have mixed poultry corn thrown on the grass for them twice a day and they have a large feeder full of poultry laying pellets – this has all the minerals in to help them make big delicious eggs ! They also have a water drinker and must always have access to water.
In their house they have nesting boxes complete with china eggs which encourage the hens to lay their eggs in there and roosting poles in front of the boxes that they jump up on and sleep safely at night. lf they were in the wild they would roost in tree’s so nothing could eat them during the night ! Our female chickens usually lay an egg in the morning between 7 and 10 am. We pick their eggs up every tea time and they are delicious!
* How do chickens wake up in the morning?
– With an alarm cluck!
One of my favourites! If you haven’t got this story you could ask for some help and find it online. Or maybe you already have a different story about chickens that you enjoy and could read that instead.
Chick ,chick , chick , chick, chicken lay a little egg for me. Do you know this song already ? lf not maybe someone else does in your house. Or perhaps you know another song about a chicken ? Or you could sing Old Macdonald and he could have some chickens on his farm…… l think l would sing it by changing the words ‘ Old Macdonald’ to ‘Farmer CHRIS !’
We hope you have a good week and get a chance to do some of things we have suggested. If you make any of the activities , or you want to draw a picture of a chicken , write a poem or a story we would always like to see it. You could always ask very nicely if one of the grown – ups would send a photo to us of what you had made. We might even share it on Facebook !
Would you like to help us name our piglets ? Get your thinking caps on and then when you have thought of two names get your parents to go to our Facebook page and enter for you !
Love Farmer Chris and Tracey x