Here at Ashbrow we have hens and ducks that provide lovely fresh eggs that we use in our kitchens.

Year 3 children are our hen keepers and every week their responsibilities include cleaning them out, ensuring that the birds receive the right type of food and a balanced diet, and most importantly make sure our livestock are happy and healthy all year round. The children learn all about the lifecycle of hens and ducks and how to take care of them correctly.

This year we built a new chicken run on the hillside next to our vegetable beds. It looks like a real smallholding now and we are looking to expand our flock next year.  At Easter time we will be rearing our own chicks, and our children have been researching the different breeds of hens and ducks so that we select the right breeds for Ashbrow.

We are also going to introduce some quail into our smallholding, so there are some egggggsiting times ahead. We will of course keep everyone up to date with our developments so watch this space.



In Spring we are lucky enough to share the experience of the living eggs hatching programme. 

Children are given the opportunity to watch the eggs hatch; chickens grow and change over a two week period. 

The amazement of watching a real life cycle is often displayed through the children’s facial and verbal expression, we get a lot of ooh’s and aah’s during this time and many questions asked, some that need to be taken into further discussion at a more convenient time,

 “how does the chick get into the egg?”                                  

 “Where’s the mother hen?                          

 “Why haven’t we got her the chicks will be sad”                                                                    

“Are they from our hens?”                                                                              

“Can we eat the egg left?                                                       

 “Can we eat the chickens?”                                                                                  

The questions go on -  bless their inquisitive minds.  

Once I am back on track I then discover that we have  little ones that can relate to some of the information given to them,  “I was born in an incubator, mine was bigger, mine had tubes… or when talking about the chicks are similar to us,  they need water, we need water, they need food and we need food, they need to keep warm and we need to keep warm and look how the chippings make a nice comfy bed, and do you need …., “my bed is a Spiderman bed", " I have a new bed it’s got owls on it", “ my hamster has bedding and  my cat chases my hamster”,   “I have lost my tooth, like the baby chick” and with this one we get a quick tour of a little boy's mouth with lots of gaps, didn’t talk about the tooth fairy or I would never get back to feeding the minds with information about the hatching of an egg. The stories go on and as politely as I can I try and get back on track, remembering I have another two groups to fit in before dinner.  So as you can see the children gain an experience that is memorable, not only to themselves but also to the staff and we smile and try to answer all their questions even if we don’t quite get done all that we wanted to in that session.

The children have discovered some interesting facts about the chickens and I’m sure if you ask them a few questions they will be able to help you to learn about the chick.

Did You Know?

  • A chick takes 21 days to develop inside the egg before hatching
  • The chick has an “Egg Tooth” on the tip of its beak to break open its shell
  • The first stage of hatching is called “Pippin”
  • The chick can be heard chirping in the shell 24 hours before it hatches
  • When the chick comes out of its shell it is very wet and tired so it lays down to rest.  As it dries, a sheath over its feathers breaks away. This is called “dander” and then the chick begins to fluff up.
  • The eggs are kept in an incubator when they have hatched and they stay in there for at least 24 hours.
  • The chicks do not eat or drink for the first 24-48 hours
  • When the chicks are a day old, and can stand up and are stronger they can be moved into a “brooder” box.
  • This will be their home for the rest of their time at Ashbrow.

After the weekend the chicks will be strong enough for us to hold.

Each class in the KS1 building will be given the opportunity to come to the forest centre with their caring hand and sit quietly before taking hold of one of our 11 chicks.  If a child is unsure an adult will support them,  we want every child to enjoy this experience and gain memories that they can share with you at home and hopefully with us again next time.


Curriculum Coverage:

Year 3 Hen Keeping