The Chicken Or The Egg?
Does the chicken or the egg come first? For the northwest Florida Chick Chain participants, their chick chain project begins with a set of two day old chicks that fit in the palm of their hand. Youth are responsible for raising and caring for their chicks through all the stages until they are laying hens. Participants are also responsible for keeping records on all aspects of the project from feed costs and details to veterinary visits. To compete in the Chick Chain Show, that encompasses the entire panhandle of Florida, youth must submit a record book. Record books are detailed records for every part of the project, and allows youth to express what they learned through the entire project.
The day of the show is a nerve wracked and exciting day. Youthtravel to the show with two of their birds bathed and prepped. Youth compete in three components of the show. First, youth compete in a skillathon, which is a knowledge test, focused on breed characteristics, health aspects, biosecurity, and other knowledge necessary to raise chickens. Second is the showmanship portion. Youth must show their animals, presenting them to judges and answering questions about the breed they are showing. The final part of the competition is when a judge assigns a quality grade to their bird. Youth earn awards based on all three components of the competition.
What’s the point?
Throughout the project, youth participate in showmanship workshops and day camps in which they learn about their breeds, how to show, and all around knowledge they need to know to be good chicken farmers. Youth are challenged to learn and become knowledgeable about their animals so that they are to not only able to care for them their birds properly, but also so that they can help and teach others. Youth learn to keep records, make complex decisions, manage their time, and many other life skills. The Northwest Florida Chick Chain project is just one way youth learn by doing in 4-H! If you would like to learn more about this project click to visit the 4-H Chick Chain website( http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/district-4h/4-h-chick-chain/) or for other 4-H offerings, please contact your county 4-H agent.