BOERNE, Texas – Van Raub Elementary School in Boerne has the best weapon for combating the cricket apocalypse yet: chickens.
Seven chickens, all hens, were incubated and hatched by the kindergartners last school year, and there are plans to hatch more in the future.
The chickens, which were funded by a grant from the Fair Oaks Ranch Wildlife Education committee, live in a coop on campus and students take turns caring for them, said Director of Communications for Boerne Independent School District Jocelyn Durand.
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Students who take care of the chickens are called "chicken tenders," and all of the eggs collected from the hens are given to parents and staff or cooked for students on green eggs and ham days, Durand said.
"We also have an Eagle Scout building a better pen with a chicken playground that will keep them safe from predators and flying soccer balls," Principal Jamie Robinson told KSAT.
As it turns out, chickens love crickets, and the insects actually provide a healthy snack for the birds because they're full of protein.
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"We keep our feathered students in coops, but they also need their exercise, so this helped get them really moving the past couple of days," Robinson said. "We don't want pesticides in schools when possible, so our approach was to use our campus chickens that the fourth graders take care of to eradicate our pests naturally."
Henny, Penny, Denise, Midnight and Roadrunner are just some of the names for the hens, but Durand said the students all have their own names for them.