Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The question has been asked for many years. For the 4-H members involved in the 4-H Chick Chain project it may be irrelevant, because there is plenty of chickens and potential for lots of eggs.
The 4-H Chick Chain gives 4-H members the opportunity to develop an understanding and working knowledge for good poultry management and marketing practices. As with any 4-H livestock project, the Chick Chain teaches personal responsibility by working with animals that depend on the 4-H member to provide proper feed, care and management. The member also develops self-esteem and decision making skills that will be of benefit throughout life.
In the Chick Chain project, a 4-H member will purchase 25 baby chicks and raise them for laying hens. The day old chicks usually arrive the first week of March. The 4-H member provides housing, brooding equipment, feeders, waterers and feed. The breed of chicken used in the Chick Chain is the Rhode Island Red. Rhode Island Reds are considered a dual-purpose birds and were developed to provide both eggs and meat. Dual-purpose birds are hardy, lay large brown shell eggs and suited for the backyard flock.
After raising a set of birds, in the Chick Chain, 4-H’ers may participate in a pullet show held in September. The 4-H member selects his best three birds and they are judged as a pen with the other entries. Trophies, ribbons and prize money are awarded to the best entries. Awards are also presented for the best records kept on the project.
Upon successful completion of the project the 4-H member has a flock of laying hens. This often develops into a small business whereby the 4-H member sells excess eggs. Participants may also have available, for sale, fully developed laying hens. Perhaps the Chick Chain project would interest a 4-H member at your house. Orders for this year’s Chick Chain will be accepted until mid-January, 2015. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Glenn Turner of Sevier County UT Extension at 865-453-3695.
Photo Credit: By Thaddeus Quintin from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA (Obligatory Wing Shot) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/], via Wikimedia Commons