My great-niece's class were having a sort of animal "show & tell" week, and she'd asked me via her Nanna (my aunt) if I would take a chicken in.
No problem. A year or so ago someone else on a Chicken Forum I frequent had been asked to go in to a school, so there was a thread of ideas. I have happily stood up and trained and/or presented to large groups before, so I wasn't too worried about that side of things. The main problem would be not talking too much and at too high a level.
Tilda, the Girl I would normally choose for introducing anyone to hens, isn't herself and we thought that taking her into a school might be a bit stressful. So, for the last two weeks (since I agreed to do it), I've been out every day to get Poppy and Lotti more used to being picked up. Rain, snow, wind... every day without fail.
Poppy and Lotti are very happy to be handled by me but they are used to flying on to my outstretched arm, bird of prey style, and perchng calmly with their claws round my forearm making them feel secure.
I thought this was possibly not the best approach with a classroom of small people, so I've been trying to get them used to actually being held. It's OK. I wouldn't say they are ecstatic about it, but they put up with it. Food is a great training aid.
I prepared a few things to say, put some pics on my laptop, ad got some additional stuff ready to take. I had been warned that I would have to park in the local car park and walk from there, so I packed a rucksack with the ancillary stuff, leaving my arms free to carry the crate.
My rucksack was bulging with a large laptop, tubs containing examples of pellets, corn, oyster shell, grapes, meal worms; a roll of kitchen towel, toilet roll, gloves and Dettox in case of accidents; an apron (in case the girls had pooey feet by the time I came to extract them); wet wipes..... The dog crate (Tilda's evening pen) was covered in an old tablecloth held on by pegs. And four different coloured eggs, one brown, one dark brown, one white, one greeny blue. This was actually a bit of a cheat as my blue egg layer isn't laying yet, and Lotti has only just started laying so her eggs are very small. I had asked for help on a chicken forum and a lovely lady called Patricia was able to help, and I collected three of the four eggs from her yesterday. (Thank you again Patricia).
The Girls behaved impeccably (or perhaps I should say impeckably), and sat (one at a time) in my arms without any accidents. When I went to put Poppy back she decided she didn't really want to go back, thank you, and decided to jump on to an easel, much to the delight of the children.
The children were really well behaved too, and their teacher was really lovely. Fabulous methods they use in Primary schools these days, including junior versions of techniques that I've used myself in my trainer roles. Shame these techniques aren't carried on through secondary school. But I digress, sorry. Every class had a smartboard and laptop, so all I had really needed was a USB stick, I didn't need my laptop after all.
We stopped at a second class on the way out so that the children there could look at the chickens, and in the end I got Lotti out again so that they could stroke her.
I think it went well enough... I'd like to have had more opportunity for the children to stroke the hens, but due to circumstances out of our control, the time couldn't be flexible. I'm keen to find out what my great-niece (T) thought of it, and what her teacher really thought of it. I've asked T's mum to see if she can find out.