After the health and safety advice comes the watering and feeding duties
Before working with the birds, the children were given health and safety briefings, with advice such as not to touch their faces or put anything in their mouths while working with the chickens, and not to kiss them.
Emotional risks were also considered and the story and discussion were used during Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) classes to prepare children for the potential of a hen dying while the project was ongoing. Supports are in place to address the pupils’ emotional needs through the behaviour support teacher and the art therapist.
Every child in senior infants and second class is directly involved in the practical side of looking after the hens and their eggs.
A roster was drawn up and each day, a group of six second class pupils is assigned for watering and feeding duties as well as washing the eggs, typically taking about 20 minutes a day.
It falls to the Thursday group to clean the coop and the Friday group is responsible for selling the eggs, with 40 minutes allowed for the tasks on both these days. The groups rotate weekly to expose children to all duties related to caring for the hens over a five week period, with school security and caretakers stepping in during weekends and holidays.
The job of the senior infants’ groups is to let the hens out in the morning and to collect eggs laid overnight.
They also check for eggs in the afternoon and spend some supervised recreational time in the garden with the hens, during normal playtime.