4-H opens registration for rabbit, chick projects

The 4-H Chick Chain and Rabbit Project are open for registration to youth ages 9-18. Deadline for registration is March 10.   

“The Chick Chain project is an excellent way to start youth out with small animals that can be managed by beginners,” explained Austin Blankenship, Franklin County 4-H regional Extension agent. “Chickens do not require that much space, which makes it a great opportunity for youth with a limited area.”

Participants in the Chick Chain project each receive 12 chicks that are one day old. They spend about 20 weeks raising their flock.

Those participating this year will receive three breeds: Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons and Silver Laced Wyandottes.

Those in the project will participate in meetings and events, with a show and auction at the end. Registration for the Chick Chain Project costs $45.

The Rabbit Project offers youth the opportunity to learn alongside their own pet rabbit. Participants who already own a rabbit may use it for the project; for those needing one, there are several breeders local to the Franklin County area.

“The rabbit project is an excellent way for youth to continue to grow yearly with their pet,” said Blankenship. “Rabbits for this project are often kept and become quite attached to their handlers.”

He said participants learn showmanship and many other aspects of the rabbit industry. They get the opportunity to participate in club meetings, community service projects and a final rabbit show. Registration for the Rabbit Project costs $15.

PIG SQUEAL

Another 4-H initiative is already in progress. Members of 4-H from four counties gathered at the North Alabama State Fairgrounds Jan. 14 to collect two animals for their new project, which is all about pigs.

“Three Franklin County youth are participating in this year’s regional 4-H Pig Squeal Project: Amelia Mann from Belgreen High School, Austin Shelton from Vina High School and Mason Humphres from Phil Campbell Elementary,” said Blankenship. “They are doing an amazing job caring for their hogs, and I credit that to them being well-prepared.”

Over the course of the project, which will last roughly four months, these 4-H’ers will be taking care of their animals as well as attending management and showmanship trainings. They will also maintain a record book for business-related expenses and record their project story.

The project will wrap with a show and auction. Each participant will be responsible for bringing one of the animals to the final event, where they will show them in market and showmanship classes.

“Twenty-seven youth and hogs will be at the show,” Blankenship explained, “and the pigs shown will go up for auction directly after that.

He said it’s a great way for the public to support the 4-H members, as they will collect roughly 90 percent of the auction proceeds.

Blankenship explained bidders don’t have to take possession of the live animals, as there are already butchering time slots lined up at two meat processors for that day. Buyers will be responsible for paying the meat processing fee to the butcher and picking up the final cuts of pork.

The Northwest Alabama 4-H Pig Squeal show and auction will take place April 22 at the North Alabama State Fairgrounds in Muscle Shoals. The show will begin at 9 a.m., and the auction will begin about noon.

“I encourage any interest youth to participate in our projects,” Blankenship said. “They are all a great way to expand knowledge and leadership skills.”

For more information about Franklin County 4-H programs, contact the Franklin County Extension Office at 256-332-8880.

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