Nearly two dozen local 4-H students are participating in the Alabama 4-H Chick Chain Project, which is designed to teach recommended management practices for raising chickens.
The students will spend the next four months caring for 18 chicks at their homes.
Each student will enter his or her best three birds at the 4-H Chick Chain Show and Sale at the Northwest Alabama Fair in September.
The remaining chickens will belong to the children and their families for egg production or meat harvesting.
“A lot of the kids are using this as an entrepreneurial opportunity. At the end, they will have up to 15 egg-producing birds, so a lot of them will be saving the eggs and selling them around the community,” said Walker County Extension Coordinator Danny Cain.
The county’s 4-H agent, Rebecca Persons, said this is the first time that local students have been part of the project. Approximately 30 counties around the state are participating this year.
“We’ve always had a a few 4-H families who had chickens. With this program being so successful in other counties for the past couple of years, we decided it was something that we wanted to try,” Persons said.
In order to particiapte, students had to be at least 9 years old.
The students and their parents also had to participate in a mandatory training session and were required to pay a $50 deposit that will be returned once they bring their three chickens to the fair.
The breeds of chickens involved in the project are Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rocks and Easter Eggers.
All came from a reputable hatchery in Missouri and were propery vaccinated before being shipped to Jasper.
The chicks were two days old when 4-H students picked them up Wednesday.
Cain said the chicks will have to remain in brooders for up to six weeks and will then be moved to coops that were constructed by the students and their families.
In addition to feeding and watering the chickens, the students will also have to protect them from other animals.
“The biggest problem that they’ll have is with predators, everything from housecats to foxes,” Cain said.