Crenshaw County 4-H members place in the Southeast Alabama Chick Chain show

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Three Crenshaw County 4-H members placed in the Southeast Alabama Chick Chain show held during the National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 11.

Trilby Jones earned fourth place in scrapbook, third in showmanship, Reserve Champion for breed, and Grand Champion for county. Her sister Temply entered the show for the first time this year, placing first in scrapbook, fifth in showmanship, Reserve Champion for breed, and Grand Champion for the county.

“Chick Chain teaches them responsibility,” said TeLenna Jones, Trilby and Temply’s mom. “It also helps them to be organized because they have to keep up with how much the chickens eat and how much they grow.”

Email newsletter signup

Both girls and their teammate, Brady McCarty attend Crenshaw Christian Academy. McCarty finished eighth in keeping a growth and cost record book, Reserve Champion for the county, and Grand Champion in breed.

The show was the culmination of months of hard work on the part of 4-H members ages nine to 18 from 10 nearby counties. The student raised chickens as part of the Southeast Alabama 4-H Chick Chain project, which teaches kids management practices for growing and raising poultry.

Members in the program receive 10 or 18 chicks in the spring and may choose from two or three breeds. Participants feed and care for the chicks approximately 20 weeks, then enter two or three in the area’s annual show and auction at the National Peanut Festival.

“The kids raise the chicks from June until November, right up until the festival,” said Crenshaw County 4-H agent Heather Sanders. “We follow them to ensure they’re doing what they are supposed to do.”

Participants work to ensure the birds are raised to the program’s standards and sell eggs they produce to pay for the cost of care.

The Joneses raised and showed Black Australorps. McCarty raised two breeds and elected to show a White Leghorn. Trilby Jones has participated in the program for several years.

“Our kids are out there [with the chickens] all the time,” Jones said. “They just loved working with those chickens. I could see the evolution of Trilby growing. Her penmanship is better. Her communication skills are better. Temply, my youngest, is a pro because she helped Trilby all those years.”

Judges assess the birds for their health and breed standards, Sanders explained. During the competition, entrants get birds out of their cage and talk with judges about their experience with raising the chickens.

“Judges can tell if the kids have been handling the bird themselves,” Sanders said. “They judge them on whether it’s a clean bird and also on the records they have kept.

“We’re teaching them to keep records for animals, profit and loss, things like that. We’re teaching them the business side of farming so they don’t think its just an animal they are taking care of. They have to learn the actual business side as well.”

Sanders joined the Crenshaw County Extension office as 4-H agent in June. Before helping participants with Chick Chain, Sanders admits she was scared of chickens.

“My grandaddy had a chicken farm, but they were not pets,” Sanders recalled. “My granny had a chicken yard and she warned me not to go out there because [she said] the rooster would peck me. I grew up terrified the rooster would take my eyeballs or a snake would be in the henhouse.”

Sanders overcame her fear through Chick Chain, observing that the chickens children raised were not aggressive, but were more like family pets.

Once the birds are shown, they are auctioned off, Sanders said. Children who wish to keep the birds must buy them back at auction.