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MSU Extension Service offers poultry education

Mississippi State University Extension Service poultry experts are scheduling their hatch-out program, which supplies Mississippi classrooms with the equipment needed for a week-long science project focused on hatching chicks. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
Mississippi State University Extension Service poultry experts are scheduling their hatch-out program, which supplies Mississippi classrooms with the equipment needed for a week-long science project focused on hatching chicks. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)

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.

“Teachers can contact us, and we’ll bring an incubator with eggs that have already incubated for 18 days,” said Jessica Wells, Extension instructor at MSU’s Department of Poultry Science. “They’ll hatch over a three-day period. Teachers don’t have to handle or rotate the eggs, nor do they have to worry about taking care of the chicks over the weekend.”

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.

“They can see the chicks hatch, put them in the aquarium, and watch them for that week. I’ll come back on Friday, answer questions, and talk about the entire process they observed,” she said. “A 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 days’ notice.”

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

“Many kids have no idea how we hatch and raise chickens, or where their food comes from besides the store,” she said. “They don’t know the process the food goes through before it is on a plate at the table. It’s 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. It’s a great learning tool and lots of fun for the students.”

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

“I have tied it into our reading of Charlotte’s Web to make the story come alive, so my students can see it instead of just reading about it,” Everett said. “I’ve gotten really good responses from students as they watch the whole process. It’s mind-boggling to some of them – we eat eggs and chicken, and this egg can grow into a chicken.”

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

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Released: March 27, 2013
Contact: Jessica Wells, (662) 325-3416

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