THE Big Brooder House is open once more as a new batch of chicks have moved in to take up residence as part of a school project.
Ranvilles School took charge of 15 eggs on Monday for its chickwatch project, which is being streamed live on the internet.
And by yesterday, 11 of those eggs had hatched, watched by people online from around the globe.
The hit scheme is now in its fourth year at the Oldbury Way, Fareham, school. In its first year it attracted 15,000 hits online. By last year this had egg-sploded to a massive 250,000 hits.
Stepping into her role as Mother Hen, school resources manager Vicky Wigmore said: ‘I don’t know why it’s been so successful online, but it has been phenomenal.
‘We’ve had hits from Austria, Australia, the States, Norway, New Zealand – all over the world.
‘Last year we even had a father who’s serving in Afghanistan come online, and a navy warship that was out on duty close to the Equator.
‘People get so into it, it’s not just the children at the school, but I have been told some children were refusing to go to bed because they wanted to see the first chicks hatch.
‘I’ve had families joke that no housework gets done whilst it’s on. And someone else said that it wouldn’t be long before it’s cited in a divorce.’
The eggs are initially put into an incubator in the school library and a few hours after hatching when they have dried out they are transferred across to the house.
Between shortly after midnight on Wednesday and the children coming into school that morning nine of the chicks had hatched.
By the end of yesterday, three more had hatched.
Mrs Wigmore added: ‘We’ve united grandparents with their grandchildren who are miles apart, enabled dads to see what their children are up to at school across thousands of miles, formed new friendships and reunited others all because they were drawn into the life of a newborn chick.
‘But most of all, behind each individual hit, there were families drawn together to watch the chicks hatch.’
Year 6 pupil James Williams, 11, follows the chicks’ progress avidly online and said: ‘Even though we won’t be here next year, I’ll still definitely be following it online, but it’s even better in real life.
‘Watching the chicks grow up is quite interesting, and I’m hoping I can take one home this year.’
Classmate Emily Hawyard, 10, added: ‘I watch them before school.
‘One that had just hatched had this shell stuck on its head and was falling over, it was so cute.
‘It’s great that it can be watched live from anywhere in the world.’
At the end of the two-week project, the chicks are sent home with families as pets.
The Big Brooder house can be watched at ustream.tv/channel/ranvilles-big-brooder-house-2012