Janet Duke School Animals
At our school we are lucky enough to provide homes for animals that otherwise would not have one. The animals provide hands on experience for all our children who really enjoy learning about their care, behaviour and health as well as providing lots of cuddles and strokes.
The history of ‘The Janet Duke Farm’
Many years ago, we took part in a hatching program whereby Foundation Stage hatched out chicken eggs as part of their learning about ‘The World’. At the end of this project the chicks are supposed to return to the company, however we decided to keep four hens. They provided an excellent opportunity for our children to develop their teamworking skills and responsibility and we found out that the chickens loved the children too. We were very excited when they laid their first egg and decided to take donations for these freshly laid eggs at the office and use the money towards the chicken food and their care.
A group of children, who showed a particular fondness for the chickens, were asked to be Eco Captains and took on most of the responsibility around collecting the eggs and making sure the chickens were fed and watered daily.
From then on, we haven’t looked back and we now offer homes for any pets that would otherwise be homeless. We now have a wide range of animals including: chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, tortoises, a bearded dragon and even a snake.
Our Eco Captain team is much larger than when we first started but the principle is still the same. Children in Years 5 and 6 are given the opportunity to apply to be an Eco Captain at the beginning of the year. If they are successful they are then given a rota and come to Eco Club at lunch time to help to care for our animals. Each lunchtime, visitors from other year groups are also permitted to attend to gain some hands-on experience with our animals.
Meet our furry (and scaly) friends:
We currently have 6 hens and one cockerel. Three of the hens are Hybrid breeds, two are Rhode Island Reds and one is a Bantam cross. Our cockerel (the little white one in the picture above) is a Bantam too. They all have very cheeky personalities especially Bruce (the cockerel) who enjoys making sure all our neighbours are safely awake each morning. The chickens enjoy scraps from the school kitchen every day. We give them these to ensure that no food goes to waste.
We have 10 ducks in total (5 females and 5 males), who are all different breeds, including Indian Runners. They are all very cheeky, noisy and messy but we love them anyway. Lina (one of our females) was very clever in the summer of 2019 and hatched out her very own chick.
We currently have 12 rabbits of all different shapes and sizes. We have one giant rabbit who lives happily with the chickens and the others mostly live in groups in our rabbit coop. The rabbits enjoy being stroked, brushed and even tolerate having their nails clipped by the Eco Captains. They love to eat their pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of fresh hay. They also love to hop around in their outdoor runs and love to eat the fresh grass.
The Guinea pigs:
Currently we have 8 guinea pigs, 6 females and 2 males that live in our ‘guinea pig headquarters’. They are very cheeky too and love to squeal with excitement very loudly when they hear footsteps or any packets rustling as they think they are going to be fed. Like the rabbits they also enjoy eating their pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of fresh hay.
We have two tortoises, one bearded dragon and a corn snake at school. The children love learning about the specialist area of the reptiles and some are experts in handling them.
The tortoises are called Crush (male) and Sydney (female) and are Hermanns tortoises. They usually hibernate between November and March. Their favourite foods are strawberries and tomatoes but eat mostly green leaves such as kale and watercress.
The snake is called Scissors. He is very friendly and loves his adventures with the children. He is fed every two weeks and has fresh water daily.
The bearded dragon is called Pandora. When she is not sleeping (she is very lazy) she loves being held and hand-fed by the children. She eats green leaves too like the tortoises but also has a supplement of live bugs such as crickets and mealworms. In the spring time her favourite treat are dandelion leaves and flowers.
We have been lucky enough to witness many births on ‘The Janet Duke Farm’ which has allowed children to further their knowledge of life cycles and has developed their understanding of how to care for baby animals.
We have had several litters of baby rabbits born at school and the majority of these babies are rehomed to members of the school community. In 2019 we were lucky enough to witness Lina (one of our ducks) hatch her own duckling. She is a fantastic mum to her baby, who is now bigger than her. As we have hens and a cockerel, we no longer need to take part in hatching schemes as we can incubate our own chicken eggs if necessary. In 2019 we hatched 3 little Bantam chicks. Unfortunately, one of the chicks was poorly but Bruce and Blaze still live happily with the rest of our chicken flock.
Adopt a Janet Duke Animal
In 2020 we are launching our Adopt a Janet Duke animal appeal. The children have the opportunity to adopt one of our school pets and in turn receive a framed photo of their adopted animal and regular updates and pictures. The children can also visit their adopted animal regularly. More information to follow.