Marshall County youth gone to the birds

Monday, March 6, 2017
Hannah Grover picks up her pullets, baby hens to city folks, at the 4-H office on Wednesday for this year’s 4-H Chick Chain chicken raising project. Participants raise chickens for a show and auction in August.
Tribune Photo by Scott Pearson

Marshall County Extension Agent Matt Webb was attending an out-of-town conference on Wednesday.

Good scheduling on his part because, otherwise, he would have had to share his desk with 700 chicks.

The pullets, all female Barred Rocks or Black sex-link breeds, had been delivered, ready for the Marshall County 4-H Chick Chain.

The Chick Chain is the signature annual event in 4-H, akin to the Pinewood Derby for Cub Scouts. It is open to fourth graders through high school seniors, giving participants the chance to raise their own chickens.

Based in agriculture, the Chick Chain reflects the wider goals of 4-H.

“4-H is about life skills,” said Julie Giles, one of the county’s 4-H coordinators. “It teaches responsibility and gives the kids a sense of pride raising something that will provide food for their family.”

The number of kids taking part this year is up, with 47 students from all across the county entered. They purchase a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 20 chicks to raise until the August 5 show and auction.

Participants will choose their best five chickens to show and are able to enter up to 15 in the auction.

Students keep any money raised from auctioning their birds, or if they keep them can expect more than 200 eggs per year from each.

Giles hosted a training session for participants on Tuesday night and on Wednesday, thanks to the post office, the chicks, all female, were delivered. Each group of chicks go home with a 25-pound bag of feed and a feeder courtesy of the Lewisburg Farm Center.

By afternoon, the volume of little birds cheeping in the Extension Office had diminished as parents and grandparents had stopped in through the day, armed with shoe boxes, Girl Scout cookie boxes, and copier paper boxes filled with straw, to pick up their chicks.

As school let out, the last of the students came in to pick up their “projects,” and the last of the tiny black fuzzy pullets made their way home until their big reveal in August as show quality hens.