I am a K-2 teacher. I have raised chickens in the classroom twice before. This time, despite following the directions here and elsewhere, it's been a very trying experience. We got no chicks from our first batch of eggs (possibly not fertile).
Of the second batch of eggs (12), we only got two chicks. (I have an older still-air incubator, the control rod was loose, and the kids accidentally bumped it before I got in, and we had 105 deg. temps for too long. :-( ) One chick was born last Thursday (4/14) and the second was born last Friday (4/15).
Of the two chicks, one was very healthy. The other, when born, couldn't walk. It sort of shambled along on its stomach. I kept expecting it to get better, but it actually got worse when I put it in the brooder with the older chick. It was "pigeon-toed" and kept stepping on itself and falling. It didn't help that the older chick pestered it all the time, and the younger chick really wanted to get away. I came in and found it on its back and stuck there. I figured it was going to die. :-(
So, I brought the younger chick home and put it in a shoebox in my bathroom with my heating lamps on and a terrycloth covered heating pad. I gave it vitamins in its water.
Then, because the older chick was lonely, I got it another chick from Wilco about the same age and took it to school.
The younger chick is SO much better. It can stand. It can walk (although, it mostly runs now, and then falls when it bumps into something.) I wouldn't say it's normal yet, but it is a lot better.
This chick is a different breed than the first, and it is much smaller, in addition to being (a now) recovering invalid. I have watched it drink many times, but have yet to see it eat. (This is day 4, so it needs to start eating.)
Since it is better (but, again, half the size). Should I take it back to school with a strict "hands off" rule so that it can be with other chicks? I know they are social creatures, and I worry that it won't learn how to eat without watching the other chicks. Yet, I also worry that it is not fully recovered, and that its size and all will make it an object to be picked on. Plus, I can't be there (at school) at night to check on it if it gets in trouble.
My school is also 45 minutes away. So, the drive is stressful, even though I suffered on the way home and turned the heat all the way up. Also, we go on vacation this week, and so all the chicks are coming home Wednesday night. But, can this chick wait that long?
So, should it go to school or should it stay in my bathroom? Which is worse: to be picked on and possibly get in trouble without easy access to help, or to be lonely and not learn chicken social norms? Will it die just from being alone?
I feel very stressed about all this. And, the last thing I need is for the children to walk into the room in the morning to a dead chick. :-(
Help? Suggestions? (BTW, if I ever do this again, I *will* purchase a new, self-regulating incubator. This process has almost driven this animal lover crazy this time.)