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Are your Chickens Ready for Frigid Temps?

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.

Girl holding Sussex chicken

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.

WATER

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.

WIND

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.

WARMTH

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.

boy holding chickenThe 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
(850) 623-3868

Agriculture Judging Opportunities

Happy fair season everyone! Fairs aren’t just about rides and food but also about participating in showing livestock, entering exhibits, and competing in judging contests. Judging contests are a great way for youth to explore a topic they are interested in, and practice decision-making and critical thinking skills. One of the most popular judging contests is agriculture judging. There is an agricultural judging contest online and at the North Florida Fair.

The Florida 4-H Virtual Ag Judging Contest will take place on October 27th at 6:00 pm EST on Zoom and it is free! There will be a training prior to the contest to allow 4-H youth an opportunity to learn about each topic before participating in the contest. The training will be held on October 25th at 6:00 pm EST on zoom. This contest is great for 4-H youth to learn how to judge steers, dairy cows, poultry, swine, hay, grain, peanuts, and tomatoes. There will also be questions on tool identification, weed identification, and soil samples. To participate in this contest youth must be 4-H age 8-18 and will need to register in 4-H Online. If you have any questions about this event, please email Evie Blount (ecb1224@ufl.edu) or Chris Decubellis (cdecube@ufl.edu). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate! This is our 3rd year doing this contest and we are happy to see it grow!

The North Florida Fair Ag Judging Contest will take place on November 12th at the fairgrounds in Tallahassee, Florida. This contest will be covering judging steers, heifers, poultry, hay, and grains. This contest is for youth 4-H age 8-18 that are interested in learning how judge agriculture. To participate in this contest youth must be register in 4-H Online and contact your 4-H Agent to sign up. If you have any questions about this event, please email Robbie Jones r.jones1@ufl.edu or Evie Blount (ecb1224@ufl.edu).

If you are new to agriculture judging, below are some resources to help you prepare:

 

2022 4-H Tailgate Contest Winners- and Recipe Book!

Did you get to do any grilling this summer?  Many of our 4-Hers did! Over 100 youth from throughout the Florida panhandle participated in 4-H summer day camps that taught them food and fire safety, safe grilling, and proper cooking skills.

Day camps offered unique experiences to youth on grilling techniques all summer and helped youth prepare for our District Competition. On July 30, 2022, 28 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley, Florida.  Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein.  In all, $3,200 was awarded to panhandle youth for placing 1st-4th in their competitions.

Now the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on October 1, 2022.  They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships.  For the state contest, the first-place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second-place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.

Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:

2022 Seafood Category Winners

  • 2022 Beef Category Winners

    Beef Division

    • Aubrie D.-Escambia County
    • Aidden Y.-Walton County
  • Pork Division
    • Brooke H.-Escambia County
    • Cate B.-Okaloosa County
  • Chicken Division
    • Vanessa E.-Wakulla County
    • Jamison S.-Jackson County
  • Shrimp Division
    • Addie M.-Escambia County

      2022 Pork Category Winners

    • Mason K.-Escambia County

      2022 Chicken Category Winners

If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents.  If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest to prepare for next year, check out our brand new handbook!  Finally, the top two winners in each protein category are sharing their award-winning recipes in this free, downloadable eBook!

Celebrate with Safety in Mind!

It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!

youth in front of charcoal grill

Youth learning to grill during 4-H tailgate program

Many of us will be celebrating with picnics, cookouts, and family get-togethers. One of my colleagues in Clay County, Samantha Murray, did a great article about preventing food poisoning while celebrating. Our youth have also been attending grilling summer camp programs and learning many of these tips plus lots more. The youth have learned about how to use a grill safely, how to prepare food safely and prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illness, and the nutritional benefits of animal protein in diets. Our district will have its annual competition to advance to the state-level competition on July 30 at the Washington County Extension Office, in Chipley, Florida.

I just wanted to take a moment to recap the tips Samantha gave to keep all of us safe and healthy while celebrating.

  • Keep raw meats in a separate cooler than ready-to-eat items or beverages.
  • Foods with mayonnaise are less acidic creating a better environment for bacterial growth
  • Chicken and ground beef needs to be cooked to 165°F
  • Wash hands if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of contaminating food.
  • Use different tongs or spatulas for cooked and uncooked meat or wash them after being in contact with raw meat.
  • It is recommended to refrigerate leftovers within two hours unless it’s really hot, then the window shrinks to about an hour.

Other items you may want to think about.

  • Keep beverages in a separate cooler from other foods, people will be going in and out of beverage coolers much more keeping the temperature higher and allowing bacterial growth.
  • Cook cuts of pork, beef, or shrimp to 145°F
  • Don’t sit charcoal grills on plastic tables and make sure the area is free from debris that can catch fire, including limbs or tents overhead.
  • Clean up after yourself leaving only footprints in the area you were in!
  • Enjoy time with friends and family safely!

For more information about educational programs, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.

Keep your chickens chill this summer

With temperatures already posting in the 90s this month, it’s a good idea to make sure your backyard chickens are ready for the coming summer heat. Poultry can become heat stressed when temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat stress affects egg production as well as size, shell quality, and hatchability. It also affects appetite and growth in younger birds.

Add ice cubes to your chickens water to cool them down.

Add ice cubes to your chickens water to cool them down.

To minimize heat stress in your backyard flock, there are several things you can do.

  1. Make sure your coop is well ventilated for cross air movement. Trim vegetation and limbs that might block air flow. You can also add a fan to help move air throughout the coop.
  2. Locate your coop in a shaded area surrounded by grass. Grass reduces light reflection into the coop.
  3. Provide cool water in shaded locations for your birds. Ice cubes and frozen water bottles can help cool water down. Feed consumption will likely decrease during this time but shouldn’t give you alarm.
  4. Provide occasional frozen treats like watermelon and peas. Fill a container with fruit or vegetables, add water, and freeze. The chickens will peck at it as it thaws.
  5. Misters, shallow wading pools, and dust baths can help chickens cool down.
Chickens pant to dissipate heat.

Chickens pant to dissipate heat from their bodies.

Chickens don’t sweat. Instead, they dissipate heat from their wattles, legs, under the wings and through panting. Watch out for signs of heat stress that might include

  • heavy panting
  • wings held out from the body
  • lethargic, sluggish behavior
  • pale combs and wattles.

To learn more about keeping your backyard chickens healthy during the summer, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

 

2022 Area North Show

2022 Area North Show

Horse Show


Youth from across north Florida gathered to compete at the 2022 Area

image of bridle bags

2022 Area North High Point Division Winners bridle bags.

North Horse Show in Clay County. Area shows take place throughout the state and serve as a qualifying show for the state show which takes place this summer. This is not just another horse show though, these 4-H Area shows are unique in that these shows are just one part of the larger project these youth are involved in. At the beginning of each year, youth declare which horses they will be working with. They are then responsible for working with their horses to learn more about equine sciences and to prepare for the various show and project opportunities such as workshops and shows. At the 2022 Area show, youth had the opportunity to participate in various disciplines including western, hunter, speed, and ranch divisions. Youth were eligible to earn ribbons, high points, and versatility awards. What youth are achieving inside the arena is second to that of what is being developed in our youth outside the arena.

Outside the Arena

image of showmanship award winner

2022 Area North Horse Show Sportsmanship award winner.


Image of Terry Stout Area North Volunteer of the Year

2022 Area North Volunteer of the Year.

In addition to the competition in the arena, youth and volunteers are recognized for their efforts outside the arena with various awards such as the sportsmanship and volunteer of the year awards. Horse projects and shows offer youth a chance to develop life skills, while loosing themselves in the magic of a horse. Horses demand responsibility, decision making, communication, among many other life skills. While some youth will be recognized for their success with ribbons, all of our youth are building skills that will carry them throughout their lifetimes. All of this though is not possible without the support and tireless effort put in by our volunteers. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made this even possible and congratulations to our 2022 volunteer of the year!

Congratulations to all the youth who competed and qualified for the State 4-H Horse Show later this year. To see a full list of qualifiers, click here. If you want to learn more about how you can get involved!