Embryology Kick Off Day
By: Carl C. Stafford
Senior Extension Agent
Hatching chicken eggs is a fond childhood memory as fertile eggs were placed under a broody hen each spring when I was growing up. The incubation period of 21 days was only the beginning of a fascinating show of chicken behavior, culminating with the eggs hatching. The new chicks, called biddies, instinctively know to follow their mother hen for food, warmth and safety. Baby chicks can walk the instant they are hatched as they must find food soon. Hearing the hen’s maternal clucks, they zero in on a seed, a bug, or a tender blade of grass.
Today in the Culpeper County School System at Farmington Elementary, 4H Program Assistant Joanna Kilby began an annual rite of spring with the setting the first eggs of the season in Rebecca Mazuch’ second grade classroom incubator. 4H volunteer Lori Hughes joins in the coordination of the Embryology program across 14 elementary classrooms in 5 schools. In total, they and their cooperating teachers will set more than 300 eggs this week. The Culpeper program began under the leadership of retired 4H agent, Mason Hutcheson and continues today with 4H agent Cristy Mosley leading our youth programs.
The teachers know to tell their students not to count their chicks before they hatch. An old saying spelling out that not every egg will produce a live chick. About half is a good number according to Joanna and they teach the children about these failures as well as the expected success of newly hatched chicks at the end of the 21-day incubation period.
Stay tuned for an update on hatching day May first in Culpeper County schools.