Each year, our club hatches a small group of ducklings. The purpose of this activity is for each child to experience the development of a duckling from egg to hatch, and then to learn all about the personalities of the ducklings. Students also help care for the ducklings.
The eggs are donated from a lovely children’s farm called, Lower Shaw Farm. This is a family farm that includes teaching children respect and love for animals. After we hatch the ducklings, we raise them for three weeks. They grow so much in this short time. We then take them back to the farm, where they are cared for and when grown allowed to roam freely during the day on the farm. At night, they sleep in a lovely enclosed safe area, away from hungry foxes. The ducks will live their lives on the farm freely.
This year, we put seven eggs in our incubator. One of the eggs was not fertile. We were able to candle the eggs and watch them grow along the way. We could see the blood vessels, heart, and growing embryo. It was exciting for all. Then, finally after 27 days, the ducklings began to pip the egg. It was wonderful to see the first beak poke out. After a day and a half of hard work, the first duckling emerged. Soon, this was followed by another and then another. Two of the ducklings pipped on the wrong end, where there was no air pocket. One of them made it out safely, but one was not strong enough and this sweet baby lived only an hour. The entire time, I held this baby, hoping it would be okay. But, sometimes, this does not work out, and we buried this sweet duckling under a lovely tree.
Meanwhile, the remaining five ducklings were strong and boisterous. For the three weeks we had them, the students learned how each one had a different personality. The ducks were named; Cheryll, Star, Kelly, Malcolm, and Aria. They were an assortment of different types of ducks, including Swedish Black, Aylesbury, and a mixture of Khaki Campbells.
The students had many interactions with the ducklings and delighted in watching them grow. We fed them, let them run in the grass, and take baths outside. Each child gained a new understanding about animals and felt a strong attachment and care towards each duckling. They knew that we only had them a short time, but they knew that this time would live on in their memories for ever.
Now, when our students look at wild ducks, the see them through different eyes. They see each duck as an individual with a right to a happy life. Many of the students told me that they would never eat a duck, no matter what!
The ducklings are now living happily back on the farm. They stay together in their group, as their bond is strong. They are healthy ducks, well-loved and free to roam the beautiful fields of the farm. The Roots & Shoots children, as well as our whole school have learned so much from these ducklings.