If you have seen the news, weather, or even talked to your neighbor, then you know, it’s gonna be cold! It is going to be so cold, people from Florida don’t know what to do. Here are a few ideas how to protect your chick chain chicks. During this upcoming cold snap, your chicks will be between two and half to three and a half months old. They are fully feathered out and should be able to handle the weather that is “normal” for our area. The main thing to keep in mind in the next couple of days is that the upcoming weather will not be normal for our area.
Sussex chickens are a cold-hardy breed. But the coming cold is out of Florida’s norm!
There are several breeds that are hardier to the colder weather. These breeds include: Americauna, Austrolorp, Barnevelder, Brahma, Buckeye, Cochin, Delaware, Dominique, Faverolle, Jersey Giant, Marans, New Hampshire, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Welsummer, and Wyandotte. Now, if you have one of these breeds, it doesn’t mean that you are out of the water. Additional care will need to be taken for all your chicks, no matter their breed.
Speaking of water, that is one of the main things you will need to be concerned with during the weather that is approaching. “They” are calling for over 34 hours of below freezing temperatures. The main concern for your birds will be heat and water. Your water will freeze over and will need to be checked on several times during the day. Add warm, not hot water to the poultry waterer. If you make it too hot, the chicks may burn themselves. Overnight, it is best to empty the waterers if possible to prevent ice. Refill them in the morning and throughout the day with warm water.
The strong wind is another concern. The weather advisory is calling the gust of wind that we will experience an “artic blast”. The main thing for your birds is to keep them out of the wind. This does not mean that you need to bring them inside. Simply putting up a block for the north wind will be enough. That block can be a sheet of plywood, some tin or even plastic sheeting. Apply something to the north end of the coop to help keep the wind down. Do not wrap the entire coop, just block the north end. If your coop has a natural north wind block, like bushes or if it is placed on the south side of your garage, you should be fine.
The next item to consider is to give them some warmth. This can be accomplished with a red heat bulb in a clamp light. I found mine on sale at Tractor Supply. The red bulb should be clamped about three to four feet above the floor of the coop. This will prevent any accidental burning of the chicks or the coop. Coop heaters are also available and are safer inside the coop. Another option is hay. Hay will provide warmth for your chicks and help with the chill of the ground. If you use hay, be very careful not to place your heat lamp too close because it could start a fire! The last item to assist with warmth is food. The actual act of eating food will provide warmth to your chicks’ bodies. Make sure they have plenty of food. Remember, scratch or cracked corn is essentially candy for them. Just like any candy, we want to limit how much of that they get. I bet if you mixed a little with their grower crumbles, they would not argue about it.
The main thing to remember with this cold snap is that your animals depend on you. Get bundled up and head outside and make sure they have clean, warm water and food. The good news is that we live in Florida and this is only for a couple of days.
Enjoy the change in weather and stay warm yourselves.
Prudence Caskey, 4-H Extension Agent II
Santa Rosa County Extension
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
6263 Dogwood Drive
Milton, FL 32570
Do you love learning about animals and agriculture? Chick Chain might be the perfect project for you! The 4-H Chick Chain is a program where youth learn how to raise pullets (young chicks) to full-grown layers. It is the perfect way to start your own small flock of chickens to keep your family supplied with fresh eggs. This program is also designed to help youth learn about animal ethics, biosecurity, and nutrition. As youth participate in the project, they have the opportunity to practice decision-making, critical thinking, and communication skills. This blog post will give an overview of the program and answer frequently asked questions to help you decide if this project is right for your child. Enrollment for this year’s program will close at the end of September, so only a few weeks left to sign up!
What is 4-H Chick Chain?
Chick Chain is a 4-H project where youth from the 16 counties in Northwest Florida learn how to raise, care for, and show chickens. At the end of the project, there is an opportunity for youth to show their chicken as well as what they have learned while raising their animals. The short video below gives you a great overview of what your child will learn and do in the Northwest Florida 4-H Chick Chain.
What is Required to Participate in this Project?
During the months of August and September, youth enroll (or re-enroll) in 4-H and sign up for the Chick Chain project. Youth can participate through a club or as an independent member. During the months of September and October, youth set up their brooders and either hatch or begin raising pullets. There are lots of great resources on our website to help new families set up a brooder and start caring for their chicks, and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office is available to answer any questions you may have. During December, January, and February, youth will have the opportunity to participate in workshops to learn showmanship, complete their record book, and prepare for the show. First-time members will compete in a skill-a-thon during the show. Returning members can choose to complete an entrepreneurship project or give an illustrated talk or demonstration about poultry. There will be workshops to help returning members prepare. The culminating event is March 11th- the District-wide Chick Chain show in Chipley, Florida at the UF/IFAS Washington County Extension Office. Youth will demonstrate their project knowledge and be recognized for their achievements.
What Types of Chickens can I Raise this Year?
Where do I Sign up?
New 4-H members will need to enroll in 4Honline; returning members will re-enroll in 4Honline. When you enroll (or re-enroll), you will select “4-H Chick Chain” as your club, and “Poultry Science” as your project. You can select other projects if you desire, but those two items must be selected to enroll in the Chick Chain program. There is a $25.00 fee to enroll in the program- this fee covers expenses related to the workshops and show.
Who do I contact if I need help with my project?
Start with your county UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Agent. He or she has the contacts/information you need to be successful in your project. Never be afraid to ask questions or for help!
What is showmanship?
Your ability to handle your bird and your poultry knowledge is the focus of showmanship. You’ll interact one-on-one with an experienced poultry judge demonstrating the steps of showmanship, breed knowledge, and general poultry knowledge. Attitude, appearance, speaking ability, care, management skills, and willingness to follow instructions are all on stage. The best way to learn about showmanship is to watch the videos on our website, and attend one of the Poultry Perfection workshops (we have three different locations and dates to accommodate everyone). During the workshop, we will teach you how to wash, groom, and handle your bird. We will also practice talking to the judge and review what to wear on showmanship day. Showmanship classes are divided by 4-H age divisions:
What is a Skill-A-Thon?
This is a hands-on contest for you to show off what you have learned throughout your project and is required for 1st-year participants. There may be questions on identifying breeds of chickens, how to set up a brooder, types of combs and how to choose the correct feed. You’ll learn this information during your project and at the Poultry Perfection Workshop.
What is the Entrepreneurship Project?
Instead of the skill-a-thon, returning project members can choose to participate in the entrepreneurship challenge or give a demonstration or illustrated talk. The entrepreneurship challenge is a business plan based on services or goods related to your poultry project. For example, you might create a business plan for selling eggs to your neighborhood or composted chicken manure to gardeners. We will guide you through taking your idea and turning it into a business plan that you will communicate to a team of judges.
What is a Demonstration or Illustrated Talk?
A demonstration is a show and tell presentation where you demonstrate how to do something. This might include how to set up a brooder, how to read a feed tag, or how to candle and egg. An illustrated talk is a presentation with visuals and tells about something. This could include telling about different breeds of chickens, telling how to inspect your chicken coop for disease/biosecurity, or how to judge a chicken.
Where Can I Find Project Resources?
Everything you need is available on our website! There is a handy timeline, information about setting up your brooder, feeding and caring for your animals, preparing for showmanship, and much more! You can download and print a copy of your record book, or you can fill it out online. The website is where all the most current information is housed, so you will want to bookmark it for easy access!
For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office. You can find more information about the 4-H poultry project on our poultry project page!
Pullet Grand Champion Audrey S.
4-Hers from across the Northwest Extension District wrapped up their 2021-2022 4-H Chick Chain projects at the district show on March 12th. In October, the 4-Hers began caring for their baby chicks in a brooder then transitioned them to a coop. They learned poultry showmanship skills and how to bathe their birds and make them look their best for their show throughout the project. They also learned biosecurity basics to protect their birds and themselves from disease and illness.
The NWD District Chick Chain Show is the culminating experience for this project. After checking in their birds, 4-Hers participated in a skill-a-thon to test their poultry science knowledge. The showmanship contest gave them a chance to show off how they check their birds health, present their bird to the judge, and explain how they care for and prepare their birds for show.
Congratulations to our 2021-2022 4-H Chick Chain Project 4-Hers. Below are the final results for the show.
Pullet Grand Champion Audrey S. & Reserve Ryder H.
Senior Skill-a-thon 2nd place Owen B. &; 1st place Roger N.
Blue ribbon photography Catherine G. &; Alison C.
Junior Showmanship 1st place Kadence A., 2nd place Jocelyn B., 3rd place Kasen M.
Intermediate Showmanship 1st place Emma W., 2nd place Emily F., 3rd place Adly C.
Senior Showmanship winners 2nd place Owen Bender, 1st place Roger Nemeth
Best of Breed Winners-Australorp-Blair P., Brahma-Audrey S., Delaware-Samuel R., Plymouth Rock-Jocelyn B., Orpington-Ryder H., Rhode Island Red-Riley B., Sussex-Aubrey M., Wyandotte-Owen B.
Production Division-Grand Champion Colton H. & Reserve Emma W.
Greetings, my name is Marie Arick and I am the County Extension Director, 4-H and Family & Consumer Sciences Agent in Liberty County. Beginning in 2019, I stepped into this complex, but rewarding position and have worked with volunteers, community partners and other Agents on some amazing projects.
The 4-H program provides a diverse array of opportunities for youth ages 8 to 18. One great example is the Liberty County Livestock Club. This club provides a variety of animal projects and agricultural judging opportunities. As an Agent, I support my volunteers with curriculum, training opportunities and fund raising. This club successfully fund-raised enough money to buy a set of portable livestock scales to aid with animal projects.
School enrichment is a large part of 4-H programming for Liberty County youth. The two most successful are the Ag Adventures and the Embryology in the Classroom programs. Ag Adventures introduces youth to many crops and their uses. While teaching cotton in the field during this program, it surprised me how many youths did not know that our ‘paper’ money contains cotton. With embryology, each year is met with excitement when we enter the classroom with the incubators and eggs. The daily lessons include learning the parts of the egg and following the growth of the chick. Egg candling sessions allow me the opportunity to see how much the kids have learned and there is no shortage of enthusiasm when the chicks hatch. While Covid-19 did inhibit Ag Adventures for 2020, it did not stop Embryology. All incubators and supporting equipment along with the eggs were delivered to the schools. Lesson videos were created and other supporting materials were all placed on a closed Google site for the teachers to utilize.
Embryology Google Site
4-H University Cheese Making
As an Agent, one experience that never gets old is to ask a group of 4-H youth if they think they can transform a gallon of milk, using a few additional ingredients and a recipe, into mozzarella cheese. I absolutely love watching the skeptics successfully participate in the workshop and create their mozzarella cheese. In the process, these youth learn about food safety, kitchen safety, recipe literacy and adherence. The ‘learn by doing’ motto drives this experience.
Prior to adding 4-H to my Extension Agent assignment, I still incorporated youth into my Jackson County Family & Consumer Sciences programming, specifically culinary arts. Cooking is a life skill, we all eat! What better way to introduce food safety, kitchen safety, nutrition, and a variety of food preparation methods to youth than through culinary arts. Once I transitioned into a 4-H role, I added cheese making, grilling, food challenge, food preservation and more. Kids are more likely to try a new food, or an old favorite prepared in a healthier manner, if they make it themselves.
Carlos Staley, UF Intern
The above programs have shown great success, but 4-H offers a broad range of programs and there is something for everyone. My reward is each child’s success. It is even more gratifying when a former high school student that participated in the culinary arts school enrichment program for two years is now attending UF studying food science. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is when he becomes your UF summer intern!
I am a Mississippi State University graduate with a BS in Exercise Science and a MS in Health Promotion. After a long stint in the medical field, I transitioned to my second career choosing Extension. I began working with Texas A & M AgriLife Extension prior to transitioning to the University of Florida IFAS Extension in 2015. Extension is extremely rewarding, but in my down time I enjoy kayaking, gardening, and reading.
Each year in Northwest Florida, 4-H hosts a 4-H Chick Chain Project. During this project, youth select their birds, raise their birds, attend educational workshops, and show their birds at a final show. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic placing a new emphasis on fresh from the farm food products, the 4-H Chick Chain project is a great way to launch into raising chickens or to start a new project. This year, the project is going one step further than previous years by adding more opportunities for youth to share about their projects through a demonstration or illustrated talk and the chance to explore building a business through an entrepreneurship challenge.
Demonstrations and Illustrated Talks
4-H youth, Tucker Padgett, posing with her show bird at a show.
Participants will have the chance to share a demonstration or illustrated talk focusing on their chicken related experiences at the 4-H Chick Chain Competition. The best part is that presentations made at the Chick Chain event can be perfected and carried on to other competitions such as County Events, District Events, and 4-H University. Through a demonstration, youth will show the judges how to do something, while with an illustrated talk, youth are explaining a situation or topic while using a visual aid such as a poster, PowerPoint, or physical object. The best part of this opportunity is that youth are encouraged to talk about their chickens and chicken experiences. After all, it is the 4-H Chick Chain Project.
This new experience is designed to walk participants through the documentation and setup of a business plan focusing on chickens, over multiple years. Each year, participants focus on a different aspect of owning and operating a business. At the Chick Chain show, participants will present their plan to judges. For youth who are interested in the entrepreneurship challenge and more similar opportunities, youth are encouraged to check out the Florida 4-H Gator Pit which offers educational workshops and the chance to interact with entrepreneurs throughout Florida.
Try it Out
Chickens pecking at feed offered in a feed pan.
This project is open to Florida 4-H youth in Northwest Florida. Registration will be open October 1, 2020 through 4-HOnline with the show taking place on March 20, 2021. Interested in getting involved? Visit FL 4-H Chick Chain or ask your local UF IFAS County Extension Office where to get started. This project offers a chance for every level of youth to stretch their comfort level focusing on one of the best topics out there… Chickens! So join us, learn something new, teach us something new, and make some awesome chicken loving friends.