‘The Heronsgate Hens Story So Far…’
When I applied to join the Heronsgate School Team as Headteacher the school council were very involved in the interview process. I was interviewed by 20 children representing all classes from the school. One of their key questions was, can we have a school pet, and if so what would it be?
I have always been passionate regarding children having a good understanding of where their food comes from and being an animal lover had always been interested in chickens. I suggested chickens and the children were extremely interested in the idea.
Two and a half years later we now have a thriving cottage industry in egg production, albeit quite a small one. First, school council decided upon the best area for the chickens and investigated the type and cost of chicken houses. They then presented their findings to the school’s parent fundraising committee, (PoSch) Posh agreed to fund the chicken housing and the cost of three chickens.
Finally, in May 2015 our chickens complete with housing arrived. After a school wide vote, they were named, Florence, Poppy and Bella.
The point of lay hens quickly established themselves in their new home and were laying eggs in 3 days. Initially, school councillors took care of the hens after some training by the company who provided them. These children then went on to train other children how to collect eggs, feed, water, and of course clean up after them. The children are taught good hygiene procedures and how to interact with the chickens in a way that they enjoy. Each class in the school now takes it in turn to look after the chickens a week at a time.
In late 2015 one of the children heard about an appeal from a rescue farm who were looking for homes for ex battery farm hens. I asked the children if we should get involved and the answer was unanimous. We could offer a safe environment, friendship, care and love - all reflecting our schools values. We decided upon another three and so Elvis, (yes, she is a girl), Chicketa and KFC came to join our flock (all names chosen by the children again).
As it was a cold time of year and their feathers were very sparse an appeal went out to provide them with some extra layers in the form of chicken jumpers! The parents, nannies, aunties and grandmas got out their knitting needles and we soon had a wardrobe to keep the new girls cosy. It took some time for the battery girls to get used to walking around, scratching and pecking and they were fascinated by the sky and the wind but they soon established themselves.
Since then PoSch have bought us a new more practical henhouse and Boots a little Bantam has also joined us. The children love interacting with the chickens, taking responsibility for their care and pride in collecting the eggs. They have developed confidence when handling them and for some of our children have found just simply sitting with a hen on their knees a very rewarding experience. The children understand how the eggs are produced, what food the hens like best and what is required to keep them healthy.
The school sells the eggs each day and from reception and the money raised buys the food and bedding the chickens require.
We love our chickens!