Category Archives: 4-H

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4-H Poultry Chain – First Time Chicken Owners

4-H Poultry Chain – First Time Chicken Owners 

For the longest time I have wanted chickens for eggs. In my mind I thought they were super hard to prepare for, so I never took any steps to actually getting some. This year when 4-H Poultry Chain came about, I forced myself to sign up. There is no greater motivation to prepare/finish something than a looming deadline and chickens were expect the end of Spring!

What is 4-H Poultry Chain?

The 4-H Poultry Chain is a great way to teach children responsibility and how to care for a family flock. Basically, 4-H gives each participant a certain number of day old chicks that members must raise and take care of. When the county fair rolls around, members must take their 3 best chicks for a Show and Sell where they are judged and then auctioned off. The winner gets prize money, but ribbons are awarded as well. The money earned from the auctions is divided amongst the 4-H program and I think the participating members if their chicks sell, though I could be wrong on that last part. I do know that part of the money is used to buy the chicks for the next year.

We were told to expect anywhere from 15-30 chicks for each child signed up. There was no way I wanted more than that, so I only signed up Kaia. This year, 4-H gave everybody 18 baby chicks.  We had the option to purchase roosters, so I purchased 3. Silly me thought that in order for the chickens to lay eggs that a rooster must be present. Boy, do I have a lot to learn! We ended up with a total of 23 baby chicks (somebody miscounted ours along the way and we got 2 extra).

We picked them up on the 11th of May.

4-H Poultry Chain Chicks 2016 Arkansas - Amberlink

Brooding Day Old Chicks

The kids fell in the love with them. Every chance they got, they were watching, holding, and carrying them around with them. I had seen brooders set up many different ways, but chose to use an old watering trough for mine with sand as the bedding. The thought process behind choosing this was that it was wide enough to give them plenty of space, and tall enough where they couldn’t hop out of it as easily as a swimming pool. I seriously overestimated how big of a space 23 baby chicks needed. There was plenty of room in the brooder, but the chicks mostly stayed together. I chose the sand after a lot of research because it was supposed to be the least smelly, easiest to keep clean and also the least expensive in the long run.

Aybra’s favorite chicks were the roosters. She named one Duck and even had a photo shoot with it. I’m not sure that she could actually tell them apart, but she insisted that she could and always chose “Duck” when holding a chick.

4-H Poultry Chain - Baby Rooster Amberlink

The Setup

In the brooder, I used a 60-100 watt bulb in a clip on fixture for heat. The temperate in my house was set around 73-78* varying on the day’s weather. The chicks seemed to stay plenty warm, but would also huddle together in a cute little cuddle puddle under the lamp as they slept. Another thing I learned was that heating lamps have a lot more watts (250!) than regular bulbs and give off a lot more heat. I think I chose the best option for me since my container was more enclosed than some other options (like a kiddie swimming pool).

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Brooding

The chicks had 1 long red feeder as seen in the above picture, and 2 quart size waterers. I had to change the water multiple times a day because the chicks got it dirty, and also drank it! I underestimated how much they would eat and drink. I probably should have had two of the feeders and a larger watering system. In the future, I will try to find a way to slightly elevate the water in order to avoid them getting it dirty so fast. I’m not sure how shavings differ in terms of water cleanliness, but I imagine shavings would be a slightly cleaner option.

As far as keeping them alive, that was the easy part. I was under the impression that a few of our chicks would die from various reasons and that it was hard to keep 4-H poultry chain chicks alive. That was not my experience. We didn’t experience any loss inside.

Growing Up

I planned on keeping the 4-H poultry chain chicks inside for 3-4 weeks depending on when they started hopping out of their enclosure. I knew that once they were big enough to get out of their enclosure that I wanted them outside. I did NOT want chickens wandering around my house. Another factor was the smell. At first, the chickens didn’t smell. In fact, people were surprised when they came to visit and I would tell them we had chickens inside. They were in my living room, so they weren’t hidden away, but they were very quiet. They only started smelling the last week they were inside. 23 chicks make a whole lot of chicken poop!

4-H Poultry Chain - Amberlink Chicks

As they got older, I found some limbs to put inside their enclosure. We called it the Chicken Playground. They enjoyed playing on them, and it wasn’t uncommon to see 6-7 chicks lined up on a log sleeping. It was so much fun watching them growing every day. I’m not even kidding, they grow up so fast! Once they started getting their feathers they looked a little awkward, but still cute.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Feathering

 

Moving Around

We got them on the 11th of May. I was banking on having a couple weeks to prepare their outside coop while they were busy growing inside. During the last few days inside I moved them from the trough into some rubbermaid totes. The trough was getting harder to clean and I was having to clean it much more often. The only problem with that was the chicks could get out of the totes. I thought about putting a wire over the top to keep them inside, but feared one may get stuck and hang itself. The chicks liked to get on top and hop back and forth between the two totes. I didn’t have one large enough for them all, so I split them up into two.

4-H Poultry Chain Chicks - Tote Brooder

On the 29th of May, we had our first chicken escape. It was cute and comical, but also made me realize that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. Long story short, I was hoping to build or buy a coop, but the funds I was going to use, ended up falling through. I made do with what I had which happened to be a dog house that came with the house when I moved in.

The Coop

4-H Poultry Chain - Chicken Coop Dog House

The dog house has a concrete foundation, two rooms, and multiple windows/entrances. I kept one entrance open (pictured) and wired the others closed. The open entrance leads to the porch/run. I wrapped rectangular wire around the porch/run and realized the wire I used wasn’t small enough, so I went back and added poultry wire around it. I used zip ties to attach the two wires together and I used some cup hooks attached to the side of the house to close and secure the wire against the house. This is how I enter the run. I simply unhook it. There are multiple hooks for extra protection. The downside to this is that the entrance is very tiny and I have to work really hard to squeeze my butt in there. It’s very doable though.

Moving Out

On the 30th of May, they moved outside. Despite the double wire, chickens could escape! One even got stuck in between the wires, and had to be rescued. Unfortunately another got stuck overnight and died. It was our first loss and quite upsetting since I feel it could have been avoided had I known better.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Awkward Teenage Stage

I ended up adding another layer of wire just along the bottom and then stacking bricks two high inside and outside the run. Looking back, I should have just used the tiny wire in the first place. Chickens cannot escape the tiny hardware cloth wire and cannot get stuck in it.

 

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chicks Coop

Cooped Up

The first couple weeks they were outside I kept them inside their coop full time. There were a few reasons for this, but mostly for their safety. 23 chickens is a lot to keep up with! At the end of June I gave 9 away. I never intended on keeping all of them in the first place. While I couldn’t find any laws specific to my town, laws around my area state that you can have 6 hens but no rooster in city limits. I live in the middle of the city!

After giving away the 9, I had 13 left. 10 hens and 3 roosters. We plan on eventually eating the roosters, taking 3 to the fair, and then having the others for eggs. If all goes as planned this will leave me with 7 egg layers. It’s slightly over the assumed limit, but gives me a little room in case we lose another one. I think we have been very lucky in that department. Some people started out with double what we had and now have less than what we do.

Free Ranging

The beginning of July I was finally able to let our 4-H poultry chain chicks out of their coop. The first few days they stayed right around their coop and along the fence line near their coop, but have now progressed to roaming the entire backyard.

4-H Poultry Chain Amberlink Chick Pullet Free Range

Our 4-H Poultry Chain chicks are doing really well and will hopefully eat all the yucky fleas and ticks in my yard (another reason for wanting chickens). I let them roam the yard during the day and lock them up at night. Our main threats are opossums and raccoons. We have snakes, but nothing too big that come into our yard. I’m crossing my fingers that their coop is secure enough to protect from predators.

I worried about the chickens hopping the fence and either getting run over by a train or killed by my neighbors dog, but so far they have not gotten on the fence and the neighbor’s dog hasn’t jumped the fence either. As the chickens learn to fly/jump higher we will clip their wings to discourage them hopping the fence.

It will be a few more months before they begin laying eggs which gives me plenty of time to prepare a coop that allows easier access to collecting eggs. I am looking into a portable coop so the chickens can stay secure while still “roaming” the yard.

Overall this has been a great experience thus far for me and the kids. We are all learning how to take care of them and already know some things we will do differently next time. If you are thinking about getting some chickens for a backyard flock I definitely recommend it!

Arkansas 4-H Record Books – Tips & FAQ

Arkansas 4-H Record Books

It’s that time of year. The first week of January is the due date for White County Arkansas 4-H Record Books to be turned in to the extension office. Now is the time when parents are frantically searching through their records of what their child did and scouring their social media for images related to their childrens’ projects. Talk about a stressful time! I gotta say, any sane parent would have kept track of this stuff in one simple place through the entire year.

I did that in 2015..

Or so I thought.

White County Arkansas 4-H Record Books Tips FAQ

As was recommended, I purchased a small pocket calendar and wrote down what I remembered as it happened. I also kept track in my daily life planner. Except I forgot to write down a lot. Not only was I missing information when filling our record books out, I realized that it is very difficult to go through every single page of a daily life planner to find information.

No way am I putting myself through that when 2016 Arkansas 4-H Record Books are due. Instead, I taped a piece of paper on the inside of my pantry door and I am keeping track of everything on that piece of paper. It’s easier than writing on a calendar, plus I can date the activities as they happen. It’s only January 8th and we already have 1 meeting attended, talks given, and a service project done! No wonder it is hard to keep track of an entire years worth of work.

I have noticed a trend every time Record Books are due.. There are tons of questions regarding how to fill them out and what information is needed. I have created this printable with some tips and frequently asked questions for filling our your Arkansas 4-H Record Books:

Arkansas 4-H Record Books - Tips and FAQArkansas 4-H Record Books – Tips and FAQ (PDF)

Arkansas 4-H Record Books Download:

If you need copies of the record books you can find them by following these links:
Arkansas Cloverbud 4-H Record Book
Arkansas Junior & Senior 4-H Record Book

If you were in 4-H what would your project be? 
I was not in 4-H when I was younger, but I think I would have chosen Arts and Humanities, or Citizenship. My kids are doing Animal Science, Technology, and Environmental Stewardship.

 

A Small Way to Give Big – Pop Tabs!

ftc-disclaimer

What would you say if I told you that by simply saving your pop tabs you could help a family stay with their sick child near the hospital?

It’s true! 

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas accepts donations of pop tabs, recycles them for money, and then puts that money back into the Ronald McDonald House. Every year they host Pop Tab Pandemonium in which schools compete to become the winner and claim the trophy. It is during this time that they receive the most donations, but you can donate anytime!

Ronald McDonald House Charities Pop Tab Donations - Little Rock Arkansas

I spoke with Ernie, who plays a major role in dealing with the pop tabs received and he was able to answer some of my questions and give me a little more information on the pop tabs received.

During Pop Tab Pandemonium RMHC receives an average of 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of pop tabs. Each school that participates brings an average of 100 pounds of pop tabs to the event. In other months, RMHC averages 600-800 pounds of tabs per month.

Despite what some popular rumors may say, RMHC is not given special treatment during recycling and the pop tabs are not used in exchange for treatment. RMHC is given the going recycling rate which is usually around 40 cents per pound. Based on the averages above, this means that the local communities are donating approximately $3,500 during Pop Tab Pandemonium and approximately $280 every month.

My son, Losh, recently held his own Pop Tab drive for RMHC and collected a bag and a house* full of tabs from friends and family in our small community.

pop tabs for ronald mcdonald house charities rmhc

A few interesting tidbits about RMHC and donating Pop Tabs:

  • They collect only the pop tabs because the cans are messy and take up more space.
  • They prefer donations in containers that are easy to empty inside a large plastic bag.
  • Anybody can collect and donate pop tabs.
  • If you drop off your tabs personally, you can get a tour of the Ronald McDonald House.

You can drop off your donations any day between 8am and 10pm at the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock. Their address is 1009 Wolfe St, Little Rock.
*Call 501-374-1956 and ask for a cardboard house to hold your pop tabs.

Do you recycle pop tabs or soda cans?

4-H Bingo Cards (Download for FREE)

4-H Bingo Cards

I have posted before that Losh is the Recreation Leader for our 4-H club’s Junior/Senior members. This means that he is in charge of planning a game or activity for the kids during our monthly meetings. That also translates to *ME* planning a game/activity because If I left it up to him, he would chose the same exact thing every single time. I mean, there is nothing wrong with UNO, but I bet the kids would enjoy other things too! ;)

I’ve been wanting to do Bingo for a while now, but instead of just regular ole’ BINGO, I wanted to make a 4-H Bingo game. I chose some of the most common words that come up in our meetings and used them for my 4-H Bingo Cards. Keep in mind that the most common words used in your club may be different than mine.

The PDF contains 20 4-H bingo cards as well as the word list. Each card is 4×4 for a quicker game. I recommend printing two copies if you have a larger 4-H group, but keep in mind you may also have multiple winners. Beans or seeds make great markers!

Feel free to download them below:

4-H Bingo Cards - Download and Print these FREE 4-H Bingo Cards for your next club meeting(4-H BINGO)

When is the last time you played BINGO? 
My kids love it and we play regularly as part of our school work. It helps my little ones with fine motor skills (picking up the chips or beans) and number recognition.