Chick Chain project hatches up bird knowledge, life skills for 4-H youth

Washington and Holmes County members of 4-H are learning what it takes to raise chickens for
backyard egg production.
4-H members took ownership of four baby chicks during September and October and were tasked to
raise them to laying age. Over the past couple months, they have read up on caring for poultry, attended
club meetings and participated in care, grooming and showmanship workshops. They learned about
biosecurity, their bird’s nutritional and housing needs and have watched them transform from fluffy
baby chicks to nearly full-grown birds.
The program, 4-H Chick Chain, spans the Florida panhandle from Escambia to Jefferson Counties,
with nearly 80 members currently raising backyard poultry. 4-Hers are getting ready for the culminating
event, the 4-H Chick Chain District Show. In March, they’ll come together and compete in their 4-H age
divisions in showmanship, bird exhibition and skill-a-thon.
The showmanship category is where they present their bird to a judge while describing how they
check their bird’s health much like a physical exam people might experience. While checking their bird
from beak to feet, they are judged on their handling skills and knowledge of their poultry project.
The birds are also judged during exhibition time by a qualified poultry judge. They look the birds
over checking for overall health and vitality, body conformation and their future ability to produce eggs.
Birds will be judged by breed for Best of Show awards and overall Grand Champion and Reserve winners
will be named from the top birds.
During the skill-a-thon, 4-Hers will put their poultry knowledge to the test in different areas. They
will be quizzed on poultry terminology, parts of the chicken, poultry breeds, poultry parts identification,
common tools and supplies, comb identification, egg quality and grading, parts of an egg and reading a
feed label.

Throughout the project, 4-Hers have kept up with how much they have fed their birds as well as
expenses related to raising backyard poultry. They will submit a record book with all their project
information as part of the 4-H Chick Chain project.
Animal science projects like 4-H Chick Chain are especially effective in teaching youth life skills such
as responsibility, communication, planning and empathy. It is one of the many Florida 4-H projects for 5
to 18-year-old youths.
For more information on 4-H in Washington or Holmes Counties, contact Julie Pigott Dillard at
[email protected] or 850-638-6180 (Washington) or Chris Lauen at [email protected] or 850-547-1180
(Holmes). 4-H is the official youth development program of the University of Florida.
Julie Pigott Dillard contributed to this report.