Fowl care is not foul - The Explorer: El Sol

Fowl care is not foul

At Green Fields, third-grade chicken ranchers learn responsibility, gain self-esteem

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Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:11 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

James Bond is henpecked.

It’s probably because he’s the only male living with 11 females.

It also might be because James Bond is a Brahma Bantam rooster.

James Bond and his 11 hen friends are part of a small business project in Heather Moore’s third grade class at Green Fields Country Day School.

Moore’s 20 third-graders are in charge of the chickens, and that the hands-on task of caring for them helps the students learn responsibility and develop self-esteem.

“The kids are responsible for collecting eggs, and feeding and watering the chickens daily,” Moore said, “as well as cleaning the chicken coop and caged area. They feed the chickens grain pellets, corn, apples, grapes and table scraps, and when they clean the coop area, they rake it all out and put down fresh straw in the boxes and clean the stuccoed hay bale structure.”

The straw and other detritus is composted and used in the gardens, where the third graders raise vegetables and herbs, another part of their small business project.

Besides James Bond, the chicken coop holds several hen varieties, including Ameraucanas, Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Sultans and Rhode Island Reds.

Ella Thurston, 8, is particularly fond of James Bond.

“He’s my favorite,” she said, cradling the rooster in her arms. “The hens pick on him and peck at him, but we protect him.”

Classmate Quinn Teller, 8, said he’s learned a lot about animals by caring for the chickens. “Some of them don’t get along with others,” he said. “We have one chicken who lost an eye by being pecked. Her name is Hazel, but we call her One Eye.”

Lola Wagelie, 8, noted that it’s hard work taking care of the chickens, “but we enjoy it because we get to switch jobs every day and do something different in the coop.”

Her classmate, Omar Alkayat, believes collecting the eggs is the best part of taking care of the animals.

“The chickens lay about 10 eggs a day in season,” Moore said, “and the children gather the eggs daily for sale at the school and at its monthly farmers market.”

The third graders handle the money from egg sales and select a non-profit to donate their proceeds.

Diana Hill, Lower School principal, pointed out that through the project, the children learn about marketing, gardening, botany, sales, animal husbandry and community service.

“Innovative, hands-on learning is a novelty in this test-based era of education,” Hill said. “We were fortunate that Heidi Baldwin, the parent of an alumnus, donated money and material to have a ramada rebuilt as a chicken coop, fenced and landscaped the adjacent area and donated the 12 chickens.”

More innovation is in store for the Green Fields chickens soon. The school intends on installing a camera in the chicken coop as part of a technology upgrade.

“That way, the kids and their parents can use the chicken cam to keep an eye on the chickens,” Hill said, “even from home.”

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