Residents at Neale Court Care Home in North Hykeham have been nurturing their own brood of chicks this week. Everyone at the care home has been enchanted by the progress of the chicks as they’ve emerged from their eggs and started growing.
The eggs are delivered from ‘Incredible Eggs’ a specialist breeder and are a mix of pure, rare breed and hybrids chicks. The hatchlings will stay at the care home for around 10 days after which they are returned to the farm where they can be cared for as they grow.
The chicks have been a real talking point for everyone at the Neale Court with residents keeping a close eye on them in the lounge. Activity Coordinators Annette and Lyndsey have been taking the chicks to visit residents in their rooms, so even those that are confined to bed do not miss out of the experience.
Residents have been reminiscing about their own experience of keeping and rearing chickens. Joan said “We used to keep them in a shoe box by the range in the kitchen to keep them warm. Oh, yes it’s wonderful to see them, takes me right back.”
Residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease particularly benefit from the experience, the joy that the chicks bring is apparent from the big smiles on the faces of residents as they watch and handle them. Residents have enjoyed the calming and therapeutic benefits of holding them and feeling how small and vulnerable they, as well as touching their incredibly soft downy feathers.
Residents have enjoyed learning about the process of rearing chicks, learning that they need heat for the first 4-5 weeks but after six weeks they can live outside. Chicks peck hundreds of times to get out of their egg, using an ‘egg tooth’, a sharp point on the end of their beak which falls off after hatching. Chicks stay in the incubator until they have dried out and fluffed up completely then move to the brooder. They are quiet and sleep a lot for their first few days as they recover from the enormous effort of hatching. Chicks absorb the yolk of the egg into their stomachs and this provides them with enough nutrition to happily go for at least a couple of days without food or water.
“It’s been a great experience for our residents and one we hope to repeat next year” said Home Manager, Becky Hunt.