In 1973, eggs were first collected from great bustard nests exposed by agricultural work. Had the eggs been left there, they would have been lost. The eggs were artificially hatched and the chicks were released into the wild after successful raising. These were the beginnings of a rearing program that has been instrumental in the rise of the bustard population and is still successfully run by the Förderverein Großtrappenschutz e.V. today. Survival rates of hand-reared and released young bustards to the next spring have been between 60 and 70 percent since 2011.
The eggs taken are all from endangered clutches. These were either exposed by agricultural work or were very early nests with little protection from predators from the grass. Bustard hens react to this by producing a subsequent clutch, which is exposed to significantly less risk from predators. After the chicks hatch at the rearing station, they are cared for at the bird sanctuary until at least eight weeks of age. At the latest at the age of ten weeks, the young bustards are transferred to the release enclosure where they are cared for a further three months.
In the Havelländisches Luch, the bustard population is already able to survive on its own thanks to successful habitat enhancement and predator management. However, in the Fiener Bruch and the Belzig landscape meadows, not enough bustard chicks fledge naturally. Therefore, hand-rearing with subsequent release into the wild is currently still an indispensable measure in bustard conservation.