Science Fair Experiment -- HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dsanford, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. dsanford

    dsanford New Egg

    Nov 3, 2008
    My 12 year old daughter proposed this for a science fair project: Get a batch of baby chicks and separate them into two groups, giving one group lots of extra attention -- playing with them, playing music for them, handling them, etc. -- and see if the "extra attention" group develops faster and larger (height and weight) than the other group.

    I certainly want to encourage her interests, but I have so many questions I don't know where to start.

    1. Does anyone know where we can find any research that shows the affect of attention on the growth of chickens? We've searched the Internet for hours and have found nothing.

    2. Should we hatch chicks or get them one day old? Can we buy just 10 chicks?

    3. How long does it take chicks to develop? Will we see measurable results within a couple weeks?

    4. What's the best resource for learning how to care for these chicks properly while we have them?

    5. What are we going to do with the chickens when we're done?

    6. Should I be concerned about our dogs?

    Is this just the worst idea you ever heard of? What are we getting oursleves into?!

    Thanks for any and all advice.
  2. bubbazmommy

    bubbazmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2008
    Albany, ME
  3. cthrash1

    cthrash1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Somerset, KY
    [​IMG] Now someone with more knowledge will advise I'm sure but here is my experience...

    Let's see:
    1. Nope.. took me a long time to find research and results for my sons project and it was how much faster and thicker grass grows when using chicken poo as the fertilizer as opposed to just dirt. The teacher loved the idea and results but my son didn't have it set up right(no project board) so he didn't win, but she gave him honorable mention.
    2. How long does she have to do this experiment? Hatching will take 21+ days and that is if they all develop...Lots of things can go wrong, believe me I know. May be better to order day olds. If it's just for this project you probably don't need as many as 10 maybe 4-6 will do, as long as you have some comparison going on.
    3. In my experience they grow well within the first month. Not huge or anything unless you order broilers.
    4. Storeys guide to raising chickens...Or any other how to raise chickens book. TSC has them if you have one of these stores.
    5. If you buy large fowl and don't want to keep them then it may be easier to sell pullets than cockerels. Just depends on what you are going to do with them when the time comes to decide. Pullets/hens make you some breakfast supplies almost daily and if you get the broilers you can take them to be processed for the freezer.
    6. Yes I would watch the dogs carefully around the chicks and NEVER leave them alone in a room with them...You'd be amazed what a dog can do to get to chicks. Just read in the predator section what some folks have had to deal with. We have dogs but they are never around the chickens to harm them. Our Sheltie would probably kill one trying to round it up because she tries to pick them up to move them.

    And finally I think it's a good idea IF you want to get involved with chickens...But beware they are very addicting. [​IMG]
  4. flakey chick

    flakey chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2007
    2. Should we hatch chicks or get them one day old? Can we buy just 10 chicks?

    Whereever you get your birds, be sure to get them all from one "batch". Sexed pullets would be easier to get rid of. I bought just 10 from Ideal. Hatching will take an Xtra 3 weeks.

    3. How long does it take chicks to develop? Will we see measurable results within a couple weeks?

    They grow up sooo quickly. You should be able to measure something within a few weeks. I recommend weight. Meat birds (aka cornish cross) grow VERY fast. They start looking like food at 5 weeks. You would usuallly butcher them in 7-10 weeks (someone else correct me if I am wrong). However they would probably respond differently to handling than other breeds. They just eat, poop, sleep and grow 24/7. Handling would just slow that cycle down.

    4. What's the best resource for learning how to care for these chicks properly while we have them?
    This is a fantastic site with great response on emergency care questions as well as the basic care faqs

    5. What are we going to do with the chickens when we're done?
    I've had good luck with Craig's list. Pullets would be the easiest to get rid of, but there is no 100% guarantee on sexing. Egg breeds like sex-links, RIR, etc. should be no problem to sell.

    6. Should I be concerned about our dogs?
    Oh my. It will be torture for your dogs to have the most exciting squeeky toys living in their house that they aren't allowed to play with. I am sure you will be able to keep them from hurting the babies, but it will be tempting, especially if your daughter is spending a lot of time giving them attention.

    My biggest concern would be approval for experiments involving live animals. I think some places prefer to ban those types of experiments, but I think it is good for children to learn how to handle the ethical considerations in their research. As a graduate student I filled out the appropriate forms to get approval for letting people test my equipment, and it wasn't such a big deal. Your daughter might have to list how she is going to care for their needs and what will be done with them afterwards.
  5. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    You said your daughter is 12, is she in 6th or 7th?

    As a teacher who runs the Science Fair at our school I have a rule concerning live animals: They may not be brought into the Fair, all procedures must be recorded at home and only the pictures and evidence will be presented at the school.

    This is for the safety of the animals mainly, especially something as fragile as small chicks that everyone will want to handle and they will get hurt, it happens every time.

    It isn't a bad idea, but it takes a lot of thought because as you point out you don't know what to do with the chicks after the Fair. It's not like a volcano you can dismantle and put away until next year, they need ongoing care. The group that is handled and taken care of will need more than the other group, you can't just suddenly dump them outside and say good luck. It's like a child being cared for and then being taken away and put in a group home with little personal attention. Yes they are animals, but that doesn't mean they won't suffer. If you have the resources and plan on raising them that is fine, otherwise I would suggest not doing it unless you make prior arrangements for someone else to take them as soon as your daughter is finished with her project. That way you know you aren't going to run into a sudden deadline and have nowhere to place them.

    Keep them away from the dogs, period.

    As for available research, depending on her hypothesis she doesn't need prior research if what she is doing is trying to prove her own statement. For example: I will prove that chicks provided with personalized attention will show greater weight gain and improved growth than those that do not receive personalized attention.
    That way she is building on her own hypothesis and not someone else's. She'll need a scale to weigh them every day at the same time, a camera to record them with, and a record book showing how she identified each chick. I'd suggest colored leg bands to identify the groups and the control.

    This is not a short-term project, it will need at least 2 - 4 weeks at the minimum to show anything at all. Let us know how it goes.
  6. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    I'm impressed that you're even considering it - I know my parents never would've gone for it when I was in school! Of course, I would've wanted to keep them all.

    The Raising Baby Chicks topic should have a lot of good advice for you on setting up a brooder and getting them off to a good start. I used a wire lid for my brooder to keep our dogs and cats away from the chicks.

    My Pet Chicken and Ideal will both sell small amounts of birds, but the other hatcheries will require a minimum of 25 birds. For the experiment, I'd get all the same breed and type for uniformity.

    I would think the effect of all the attention on chicks is that you'll fall in love with chickens like the rest of us [​IMG] [​IMG] ahem, sorry, I'll get control of myself now. As for research on growth - I don't know if you'll find it - chickens are livestock, so their personalities aren't really studied, except on here where they're all pets and we give them lots of attention. I'm already curious about the results of your daughters' experiment.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  7. Morning Dove

    Morning Dove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2008
    Eastern Shore MD
    If you have never had chickens, and don't want to keep them when the experiment is over, I wouldn't recommend using chickens. On the other hand, if you want to raise some chickens, and have some eggs for breakfast, I say GO FOR IT!

    You could do a similar experiment with rats or mice, though mice bite more.....

  8. Quail_Antwerp

    Quail_Antwerp [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Mrs

    Aug 16, 2008
    Quote:This is a great rule! I did my 8th grade science projects with hamsters. I fed on an all natural diet, and the other a processed hamster food diet. When I took them to the science fair and left my booth to use the restroom some kids who didn't like me decided to get my hamsters out to play with. My hamster bit one of the kids and drew blood. To get revenge on ME for my hamster biting them, that they didn't have permission to hold, they smeared blood all over my paper work BEFORE the judging.
  9. MrDoh

    MrDoh New Egg

    Oct 13, 2008
    South East Texas
    It's already been mentioned at least once in the thread, but it's so useful I want to also recommend it.

    Get Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

    It might as well be called the Chicken Encyclopedia.

    I got my copy from my local Tractor Supply store.

    It's worth every penny. I never knew there was so much to know about chickens!!!

    The only problem is, now I pretty much want ALL of the books that Storey publishes!
  10. Morning Dove

    Morning Dove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2008
    Eastern Shore MD

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