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Life Cycle of a Chicken

DSC_0022  400x400Sauder Village has a lot of chickens on our farm and we love hearing the sounds of newborn peeps in the spring. Today, we would like to share the development of the chick inside the egg. After reading about the life cycle of the chicken, complete the worksheet that follows which uses photos to show the stages of development.

An egg starts out as just a yolk in the ovary of the hen. As it passes through the reproductive tract of the hen, more layers, including the egg white and membranes, are added to the outside of the yolk before the shell is built around it. After the shell is added, the egg exits the hen and is laid. Most hens can lay one egg every 25 hours, and without a rooster present, the eggs she produces will be infertile and will not develop. However, if a rooster is present, the yolk can be fertilized and the eggs will be viable. Once a hen has laid a full clutch of eggs, she will begin the process of incubation, which lasts about 21 days. During this time, the hen will only leave the nest about one time per day to feed, and rotates the eggs three to four times every day up until three days before hatching. Inside the egg, the embryo develops, using the yolk sac as food and getting air through the air sac inside the egg as well as through the pores in the shell. As the chick grows, it uses calcium from the shell to strengthen its bones, so the shell thins over time. One day before hatching, the chick uses the egg tooth on its beak to create a small hole in the shell then rotates inside the egg to create a circular cut around the shell before pushing its way out. Once outside of the egg, the chick rests while it dries off, and does not need any food for 24 hours because it is still absorbing the yolk sac. From this point on, the chick will grow rapidly, getting its feathers in at about eight to ten weeks, and will be fully grown around six months.

Click here to view and print this worksheet: Life Cycle of the Chickien

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