Have you ever heard it said that children today have no idea where their food comes from? This statement seems to be continually reinforced by research and surveys, both in Australia and overseas, the most recent of which to be reported by the media last year being based on research commissioned by Woolworths (eg: Australian kids awareness of where produce comes from).
Well, we believe that the statement is true for chicken meat…and the ACMF wants to do something about it!
Commonly held, but factually incorrect, beliefs surround how chickens are housed (eg in cages – untrue! see my previous blog at http://www.chicken.org.au/chookchat/meat-chickens-and-cages/) and what they are fed (eg hormones – also untrue! see my previous blog at http://www.chicken.org.au/chookchat/the-hormone-myth/) abound, and this is as much true of the adult population as it is of children.
However, to address this lack of understanding of how chicken is produced, specifically amongst children, the ACMF has developed a range of educational and resource materials for school aged children. In particular, its ‘Hatchery to Home’ DVDs (for primary and secondary school students) takes students on a journey through the whole chicken production process, starting at the breeding farm from which the fertile eggs are produced and which are hatched to produce baby meat chickens, through the hatchery, out onto the farm where chickens are reared, and into the processing plant.
- Secondary Agriculture,
- Secondary Food Technology, and
- Primary Science and Technology
The DVDs and supporting lesson plans for teachers are available free of charge from the ACMF website: http://www.chicken.org.au/dvd
With the assistance and support of the RIRDC Chicken Meat Program, an educational book, the Kondinin Workboot Series “Story of Chicken” was produced, and teachers can apply to the ACMF (go to http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=239) to obtain a free copy of this book to assist them in their class work. This book was shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia for the award of Information Book of the Year in the year it was first published and remains a valued teaching resource.
Other school educational and career activities that the industry has developed and/or supported include a school project involving growing broilers and layers to demonstrate the effects of selective breeding of meat chickens (described at http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=205), guidelines for schools interested in replicating such a project (http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=233) and the hugely successful chicken rearing competitions sponsored by Steggles at the Royal Easter Show (hopefully to be taken up in other States in the near future).
While it may not be practical to take whole classes out onto chicken farms to see chicken production in real life, the ACMF’s highly successful Media Tours (see my blog at http://www.chicken.org.au/chookchat/farm-tours/) have recently been extended to provide teachers with an the opportunity to visit a chicken farm– an opportunity which has been taken up by a number of teachers on recent farm tours.
And of course, it is also possible to take a virtual tour of a chicken farm from the comfort of the classroom at http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=155&issue=1
The materials and activities I’ve highlighted above are just some of the educational resources available to help increase Australian children to better understand where their chicken meat comes from (www.chicken.org.au). They not only have a role in educating children more broadly about where there chicken comes from, but also, we hope, may serve to stimulate an interest in the industry and the many and diverse career opportunities that exist in such an exciting and growing food industry.
With Aussie kids heading back to school why not mention some of the resources available to your own childrens’ teachers and get the ‘where does our food (chicken!) come from?’ discussions underway in the classroom.
Chook Chat will be back again on Tuesday 3rd March 2015.