Over 50 4-Hers and over 100 chickens filled the barn and auditorium for the 2023 Northwest District Chick Chain show. The show was culmination of the seven month 4-H Chick Chain project.
At the beginning of the 4-H year, 4-Hers took ownership of day old chicks and began their journey in the 4-H poultry science project. They learned about poultry nutritional and housing needs, how to clean and show their birds, and how to perform health assessments. This program also encourages the development of life skills. Life skills are also known as workforce ready skills – skills that help individuals adapt to and perform in different settings.
Some of those workforce ready skills include:
- Communication – During the project, 4-Hers learned how to perform health checks on their birds. At the show, they conduct a health check for a judge. They explain to a judge how to perform the check, what they are looking for, and why a health check is important. 4-Hers could also choose to participate in Avian Adventures and give a presentation or demonstration on any aspect of poultry science.
- Problem Solving – 4-Hers participated in a skill-a-thon to test what they learned throughout the project. Senior 4-Hers were given scenarios to apply the best care and nutrition practices to meet the given situation.
- Work Ethic – Caring for an animal requires daily attention. 4-Hers fed and watered their animals daily, changed bedding, and prepared for cold temperatures to protect their birds. They also practiced their showmanship skills by frequently handling their birds to ensure they were tame.
- Reading and Mathematics – 4-Hers completed a record book at the end of their project. Their record books documented project goals, what they learned during the project, and animal care tasks. They also completed a financial record of expenses and income throughout the project.
At the show, all 4-Hers participated in poultry showmanship. First-time show participants and Cloverbuds participated in a skill-a-thon to test the knowledge and skills they learned in the project. 4-Hers who participated in last year’s Chick Chain show participated in Avian Adventures giving a presentation or demonstration on any poultry science related topic.
Best of Breed winners
2023 NWD 4-H Chick Chain Show Results
Best of Breed
- Australorp – Kolton Mercer
- Cochin – Emily Flowers
- Delaware – Tate Cannon
- Orpington – Olivia Bruan
- Plymouth Barred Rock – Tate Cannon
- Rhode Island Red – Henry Feinberg
Laura Mae – Grand Champion Pullet
- Sussex – Lily McDaniel
- Wyandotte – Laura Mae Waters
Grand Champion Pullet – Laura Mae Waters
Reserve Champion Pullet – Henry Feinberg
Grand Champion Production – Audrey Stephens
Reserve Champion Production – Kolton Mercer
- 1st place Junior – Julia Newsome
Audrey – Grand Champion Production
- 2nd place Junior – Jackson Scurlock
- 3rd place Junior – Kendyl Reams
- 1st place Intermediate – Julia Mashack
- 2nd place Intermediate – Emily Flowers
- 3rd place Intermediate – Emmit Ackman
- 1st place Senior – Steven Stafford
- 2nd place Senior – Roger Nemeth
- 3rd place Senior – Audrey Stephens
Julia – 1st place junior showmanship
- 1st place Cloverbud – Aubrey Mauldin
- 1st place Junior – Finn Feinberg
- 1st place Intermediate – Micah Houston
- 1st place Senior – JD Brookhouse
Avian Adventures Demonstration
- 1st place Junior – Allison Collier
- 2nd place Junior – Tate Cannon
- 1st place Intermediate – Kason Mercer
Avian Adventures Illustrated Talk
Emily – 1st Place Intermediate presentation
- 1st place Junior – Jocelyn Brock
- 2nd place Junior – Kadence Ackman
- 1st place Intermediate – Emily Flowers
- 2nd place Intermediate – Riley Bolling
- 3rd place Intermediate – Eli Howard
- 1st place Senior – Cat Proud
- 2nd place Senior – Roger Nemeth
- 3rd place Audrey Stephens
To all of our exhibitors, your 4-H Agents and 4-H club leaders would like to say “Great work” and that we enjoyed working with you this year! The 2023-2024 NWD 4-H Chick Chain program will begin in September. For more information, contact your county UF/IFAS Extension office.
A special thank you to Chris Lauen, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County 4-H Agent, for capturing photos throughout the day. Click to view the entire photo gallery.
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chris Decubellis (email@example.com). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Evie Blount (email@example.com).
If you are new to agriculture judging, below are some resources to help you prepare:
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
- 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!
It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!
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.
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.
To minimize heat stress in your backyard flock, there are several things you can do.
- 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.
- Locate your coop in a shaded area surrounded by grass. Grass reduces light reflection into the coop.
- 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.
- 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.
- Misters, shallow wading pools, and dust baths can help chickens cool down.
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.