An incubator to help develop the Rotorua SPCA education programme has hatched its first chicks.

SPCA Rotorua education manager Geoff Rudsdale says the incubator is something a bit different and helps to generate interest in animals of all sorts.

He says they applied for a grant to buy a small incubator, and it turns the eggs, measures the humidity and sets the temperature.

They have had it for about two months.

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The Rotorua SPCA were donated some chicken eggs from the organisation Free as a Bird and the breeds of these eggs were Araucanas, Chinese Silky and Rhode Island Red.

Geoff says the children he has in the SPCA classroom sometimes have no concept about animals and their life cycles.

As an example, he says in the summer they had tadpoles in the classroom and some children could not tell him what they were.

Geoff says they had a group of students from IDEA Services there as the chicks started hatching, which was lovely.

He is hoping the children he does a literature programme with can write and tell their peers about it, and that they can use the chicks for the next couple weeks for children to read to.

"I just think a lot of our students are losing contact with the real world, so when they can come here, pick up a day old chick, and help feed it and observe it it's fantastic."

He says it also builds on the empathy they have.

The chicks will be returned to Free as a Bird when they start growing feathers. Free as a Bird has had great success in rescuing and re-homing caged birds.