Cullman County 4-H holding signups for Cullman Chicken Project

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Asher King with his champion Rhode Island Red chickens. King has done the project for three years and competes in the 4-H Golden Egg contest annually. (Cullman County 4-H)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County 4-H is holding signups for its Cullman Chicken Project, an initiative designed to engage youth in the hands-on experience of raising chickens. Open to all youngsters ages 9-18 in the community, this project offers a unique blend of agricultural education and personal development. Registration is open until March 22 for a fee of $40, payable at the Cullman County Extension Office.

Participants in the Chicken Project will embark on a journey from selecting two different chicken breeds to raise, allowing them to observe breed differences firsthand. This educational endeavor kicks off with a mandatory meeting for the youth and parents in April, when they will receive in-depth guidance on successfully raising chickens. The adventure continues with the arrival of 10 baby chicks from the hatchery in the first week of June, leading up to a celebratory show in November where participants will showcase their best two chickens.

Kole Keener on chick pick-up day. (Cullman County 4-H)

The goal of the 4-H Chicken Project is multifaceted: it aims to instill responsibility in youth as they care for other living beings and to enhance their financial responsibility through their record-keeping skills as they write in their 4-H record books, with the core goal of enabling the youth to successfully raise all 10 chicks to adulthood so they can have a supply of eggs for their family. Moreover, the project emphasizes the importance of biosecurity practices in poultry raising, such as dedicated footwear for chicken interaction and proper hygiene and understanding when not to free range if it is known that Avian Influenza cases are on the rise.

The significance of the Chicken Project lies in its ability to teach participants about responsibility, both personal and financial, through the tangible experience of raising chickens. The initial year involves some investment in infrastructure, such as building a coop and purchasing necessary equipment. However, as participants progress, the focus shifts towards sustainability, egg production for family use or profit and, ultimately, the rewarding experience of successfully raising chickens to adulthood.

The project is not limited to current 4-H members; any interested youth in the specified age range can join and will be assisted in enrolling in 4-H’s free online system. The program includes a series of mandatory meetings designed to prepare participants for the project and the final show, covering topics from project overview to showmanship and preparation for the chicken show in November.

The November show is not just a competition, but an educational experience where participants can earn ribbons and prize money, and see the USDA chicken swabbers in action as they check chickens for disease. No auction will be held as part of the project as the youth will keep all 10 of their chickens.

Asher King with his champion Rhode Island Red chickens. King has done the project for three years and competes in the 4-H Golden Egg contest annually. (Cullman County 4-H)

For more information about the Cullman Chicken Project or to sign up, contact the Cullman County Extension Office at 256-737-9386 or via email at roberk5@aces.edu. For online enrollment, go to http://v2.4honline.com.