Animal rights activists and organisations have been calling for egg-hatching projects in primary schools to be scrapped.
Saffron Gloyne, Croydon resident and animal rights activist, is one of the people at the forefront of this campaign.
Gloyne, 42, regularly helps to re-home unwanted animals and recently rescued 22 baby chicks from slaughter after a primary school egg-hatching project left them abandoned.
Gloyne said: “They were so terrified and so cold they were climbing over each other. It was horrible.
“These birds would have instantly been slaughtered because they’d been around people and they would have needed to be quarantined for 14 days and incubated.
“No farmer is going to spend that kind of money.”
Gloyne’s statements have more of an impact now than ever before due to the avian flu crisis sweeping the nation.
According to the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT), schools carry out such projects according to the National Curriculum guidelines and are said to be a “great way to gain first-hand observations and satisfy cross-curricular links.”
However, the BHWT is vehemently against these projects as the educational benefits are exponentially smaller than the harm it causes to the animals.
The process of egg-hatching involves bringing fertilised eggs into the classroom, incubating them and leaving them to hatch.
Gloyne said: “There’s no mother there and so they’re born parentless. It’s frightening for them as classrooms are busy places and at night the rooms are cold and silent.
“They have to endure that for however long the school decides to keep them just for a few oohs and aahs.”
PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen echoes Gloyne’s sentiments.
Allen said: “Teaching kids that chicks are novelties to be watched in an artificial environment for a short time and then disposed of as if they were yesterday’s newspaper is a lesson in insensitivity to which no thoughtful parents should expose their children.
“Hatched in an incubator, chicks can become deformed because their organs often stick to the sides of their shells when the eggs are not turned properly.
“Such displays are ignorant, archaic, and cruel, and it’s misleading for them to be presented as educational.”
Normally, in a natural environment the chicks are tended to by their mother who positions the eggs properly and communicates with her babies through their shell.
Gloyne insists these projects are instilling the wrong qualities in our next generation.
She said: “What we are essentially telling them is that for our own pleasure and our own entertainment we can take animals out of their natural environment and once we’re bored of it we can just dispose of them.”
Other charities such as the RSPCA have also come out against egg-hatching projects.
Dave Allen of the RSPCA told the Daily Mail that “it is often that local animal welfare charities are left to pick up the pieces – which isn’t fair on the charities or the animals.”
This was the exact situation that Gloyne found herself in.
After taking possession of the chicks, Gloyne drove them out of London and took them to a safe haven where they will be looked after properly until they are old enough to go to a farm.
The Happy Chick company provides fertilised eggs for schools.
Their testimonials show that both teachers and pupils have a great time, with one nursery teacher saying there were more ‘oohs and aahs’ than bonfire night.
Their website also makes clear that they either collect the chicks or some schools opt to keep them and raise them.
However they are aware that male chickens are ‘destined for the pot’ and have reminded people that they are just as important as female hens.
In order to combat the unethical egg-hatching that occurs in classrooms, some companies have taken it upon themselves to come up with creative alternative solutions.
One of the big issues surrounding the banning of egg-hatching projects is that there is nothing in place in legislation to help due to the culture surrounding animal rights.
Gloyne said: “It seems extreme to have to have legislation for this.
“I encourage people to talk to their children’s schools and say that they’re opposed to this. I think the onus can be on individual families.
“Breeding birds for no reason other than entertainment is adding to a problem we have already created.”
Gloyne hopes more people will speak up about this issue and put an end to these projects that leave chicks frightened and motherless.
The banning of egg-hatching projects was something Gloyne advocated for when she stood in the Croydon Council elections as a member of the Animal Welfare Party in May 2022.
Gloyne said: “I’m going to keep standing although I’m never going to win against Labour.
“But, it is mainly about raising awareness of the party and I am going to keep going and keep fighting until I get there.”
Featured Image Credit: Saffron Gloyne