North Vancouver students raising chickens as part of curriculum

Chickens in the classroom

After almost a full year of preparing for the big day, a colourful quintet of chickens has come home to roost at a North Vancouver school.

Students at the Vancouver Waldorf School’s elementary campus were aflutter with excitement as five adult chickens arrived recently.

Students helped build a massive chicken coop over the school year.

“We just opened them up at the entrance to the coop. The birds were a little hesitant at first to come right on out,” said gardening teacher Chris Henley, who has been overseeing the school project. “We told the kids they had had a strange and stressful morning, compared to what they’re used to.”

After some gentle coaxing, the heritage hens eventually entered their new home and quickly adjusted.

While the rabble of young students were excited at finally seeing the end result of their year-long project, they were perhaps uncharacteristically quiet as well, as the hens adjusted to their new surroundings.

“It was just a magical morning,” Henley said. “They’re new pets – just observing what they do and what they like and what they don’t like is the first step that we’ve been working on with the kids.”

The five hens – named Coal, Rosa, Laverne, Goldilocks and Henley – are now right at home.

They’ve already started laying eggs, which students and staff have been harvesting, and the class continues to work on the coop to ensure the chickens are all set up before the school year ends soon.

“On top of that, we’re looking at trying to enrich the soil so that there are bugs that the chickens can eat,” noted Henley.

The District of North Vancouver introduced its backyard chicken program in 2017. While the bylaw was aimed at chicken keeping on private properties, the school convinced the district to let them have a crack at it.

An electric fence was installed, as per the district’s bylaw, which will be used to protect the chicks from raccoons, birds of prey and even possibly bears and cougars.

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