Carroll’s Ag. Department is eggs-pecting new arrivals
By Hadley Gaff, Features Editor
The chicken eggs being incubated by the Agricultural department’s Advanced Life Sciences Animals classes are kept warm and toasty as they are brought to term.
Under the supervision of Agricultural teacher Tyler Olinske, the Advanced Life Sciences Animals (ALS Animals) classes are currently incubating, hatching, and raising chickens and ducks. This is the second year that Olinske has been in charge of overseeing students as they engage in the process of bringing eggs to term, and the first year since his appointment that the class is incubating duck eggs.
Olinske has had much experience raising chicks and ducks as it was an interest of his throughout high school and college. Consequently, he was eager to pick up the project, which had been started by Agricultural teacher Cindy Raker previously.
“It’s a fun hobby to have,” Olinske said. “I really like seeing the chicks when they’re born, and it’s something really cool, almost like the miracle of life when you have an egg that basically you could crack open and eat what’s in it and it grows into a baby chick.”
With the donations of chicken eggs made by a Carroll freshman student and duck eggs by Olinske, the ALS Animals classes were given the opportunity to observe and participate in the incubation process.
Due to Indiana’s climate and the changing of seasons, chickens and ducks are more prone to lay eggs during the spring as the days become longer and the amount of sunlight increases. This luckily falls in line with the ALS Animals classes’ curriculum, which covers animal nutrition and development in late March and April. Once hatched, the chicks and ducks will participate in labs that cover different behaviors and interactions, such as dominance.
In order for the eggs to develop properly, their incubator must be kept warm and humid and the eggs must be rotated three to four times daily. The optimum temperature for chicken and duck eggs is approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but can range safely from 99 to 103 degrees. Water is added to small indents in the floor of the incubator to create steam, which results in high humidity. The eggs need to be inverted several times a day to prevent the embryos from attaching to the shell walls. All of the conditions vital to the eggs development are maintained by ALS Animals students with little involvement by Olinske.
To ensure that an egg has been fertilized and an embryo is developing, the ALS Animals students candle the eggs. This required them to shine a light up under the bottom of an egg resulting in an illumination of interior structures. A dark mass typically indicates that the egg is holding an embryo, whereas a semi-dark mass is generally a sign that a yoke is present but has not developed into an embryo meaning the egg was not successfully fertilized. After the incubation period of 21 days for chickens and 28 days for ducks, the unfertilized eggs, which do not produce chicks, are discarded.
The chickens and ducks that are brought to term will be put into large Rubber Maid containers with litter, water, and 20 percent protein feed. During their first week, their nests will be heated to 95 degrees, and each subsequent week the temperature will be scaled back five degrees.
Once the chicks and ducks are about three to four weeks old, they are available for adoption. The ALS Animals students who named the chicks and ducks as eggs are given the opportunity to adopt their hatchling, so long as they are able to properly accommodate them. The remaining chicks and ducks are available for students who have the resources to care for them. Because most sub-additions have rules prohibiting the raising of chickens and ducks, students with homes in the country are the preferred adopters.
The chicks were expected to hatch the week of April 11, while the ducks were expected the week of April 18.