Upstate Pullet Chain

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SC 4-H Upstate Region Pullet Chain

Links to registration are below. Please read all of the details before proceeding to the registration page as there are several new opportunities this year. The breed choices are also highlighted below.

Overview

Youth participants have the option of raising 12 or 25 pullets (female chicks) and must choose one of the following three breeds: Golden Comet, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Amberlinks (descriptions of the breeds can be found below in the FAQ section).  Those choosing 12 birds will pay a deposit of $35 while those choosing 25 birds will pay a deposit of $70. Upon successful completion of the project, the deposit will be returned to the participant. The chicks will be one-day old upon arrival and should come near the first of May (an exact date will be given when the birds are ordered and we will share that date with you before the end of March). 

Guidelines

  • Age Divisions: (all ages are as of January 1, 2020)
    • Cloverbud, 5-8 years of age
    • Junior, 9-13 years of age
    • Senior, 14-18 years of age
  • Fees for the project are:
    • 12 bird option requires a $35 deposit
    • 25 bird option requires a $70 deposit
    • Additional siblings may participate for $10 each
  • Each youth will receive a project record book that must be completed and turned in the Fall of 2020 (an exact date will be provided when books are handed out in May). Books will be judged and returned to the youth. Youth will also have the opportunity to resubmit their book in January, 2021 for state level recognition.
  • Youth are expected to show in a minimum of one showmanship opportunity during the project year. The show season begins near the end of August and continues through October. There are currently plans for shows in the Upstate region and several others across the state. There should be one close to you.
  • Youth participants are expected to return birds to our auction in the Fall (Date to be determined). Those originally choosing 12 birds must return 3 to the auction while those originally choosing the 25-bird option must return 5 birds. 
  • Youth that successfully complete the project, which includes submitting a record book, showing in at least one show, and returning birds to the auction as stated above, will have 100% of the initial deposit returned and the rest of the birds are yours to keep. 

 

Timeline for 2020 Project (runs March - January)

  • Monday, March 2 at 8:00am:  Your registration and payment must be received by 4-H.
  • March-April: Prepare for your chicks' arrival.
  • Early May:  Youth participants will receive their project record book and day-old chicks.
  • August-September: Showmanship clinics and blood testing will begin to take place across the region.
  • August through October:  Showmanship Show season (Show dates will be announced by the end of July)
  • October- November: Project Record Books will be due to your county agent.
  • October- November: Final auction.
  • January 2021: Youth have the option to submit their project book for state level judging for additional awards/recognition.

What are the breed choices?

Golden Comets:

Golden Comet adult  Golden Comet chick Golden Comet eggs

Golden Comets have earned the reputation of being one of the best layers of large brown eggs available today. They mature early (5 months on average) and lay eggs of excellent size and quality. Comets are a quiet bird that adapt well to the small flock owner. The comet is a 'sex-link' strain. This simply means that the gender can be determined at hatch by their color. With very few exceptions, pullets are red -- cockerels are white. Due to this characteristic, you can have confidence that the birds you receive will almost always be pullets. With the other two breed choices below, there is a better chance that a cockerel may be in the mix as the hatchery will guarantee a 90% success rate at determining the correct gender. If you live in an area where having roosters is not allowed, this is an excellent choice to minimize the chances that you have male birds in your flock. Golden comets can be expected to lay approximately 280 large to extra-large eggs per year, with many individuals laying in excess of 300 eggs per year.

 

Ameraucana (Easter Egger):

 Ameraucana Hen Ameraucana Chicks Ameraucana Eggs

Originally from Chile, in South America, they are called the Easter egg fowl. They lay colored eggs: blue, green, pink, and olive drab. These birds vary in size and color, some may have whiskers and others muffs of feathers that cover their ears. Unlike true Araucana's, these birds are not rumpless and do not conform to any breed standard. They are friendly and hardy. They do not mature as soon as the other birds offered but usually begin laying eggs between 6 and 7 months of age. The eggs will vary in color from olive drab to blue or even green and the typical Ameraucana will lay approximately 210 large eggs in a year. Mature hens will weigh approximately 6 pounds.

 

Barred Plymouth Rock:

Barred Plymouth Rock adult Barred Plymouth Rock chick Barred Plymouth Rock eggs

Barred Plymouth Rock - An old time favorite, they are known for their coloring and efficient production of large brown eggs. Hens will mature to around 6-7 pounds. The birds are cold hardy and do very well in the backyard flock. As with the other breeds, they are a calm bird that adapts well to human interaction. They mature at around 6 months of age and will lay approximately 200-225 large brown eggs per year.

    

*** On-Line Registration is now open and will remain open until March 2nd, 2020 at 8:00am ***
*** Printable forms will be available soon ***

 

Register Online  Click here to access printable registration

Frequently Asked Questions:

What's the refund policy?

For the Pullet Chain, refunds are allowed only through the end of the registration period at 8:00am on March 2, 2020.  Once the chicks are ordered, refunds will not be allowed. 

Can I also participate in the Laying Flock Project?

While we will not turn anyone down from registering for both projects, the record books for the two projects are identical and access to the shows is open to participants from both projects. There is really no advantage to registering for both unless the youth would like to do a second record book.

For the Pullet Chain, can I split my selection between two breeds?

The short answer is "No", but there is a way to get multiple breeds. We require birds to be selected in quantities of either 12 or 25 with no exceptions. However, there are no stipulations that keep you from getting more than one 'flock'. Each year we will have a few youths that will select 12 (or 25) of one breed and 12 (or 25) more of another. This is completely acceptable. In cases like this, where 2 separate flocks are ordered, the expectation is that you bring birds to the final sale from both flocks as stated above in order to have the initial deposit returned. 

Will all of the chicks for the Pullet Chain be female (pullets)?

The hatchery guarantees a 90% success rate in determining the gender of the chicks (This is for the entire order). There is a chance that you could have a cockerel or two in your flock. With Golden Comets, the hatchery tends to have a higher success rate in determining gender as they are a "sex-link" strain. This simply means that the chicks, when hatched, can have their gender determined by their color (pullets are red; cockerels are white). If you live in a town that does not allow roosters, Golden Comets are your safest choice. 

How will I care for them when they first arrive?

When your chicks first arrive, they will only be one day old. It is very important that they be kept warm for the first few weeks. The day they arrive you will need to have a 'brooder' that will maintain a temperature around 95 degrees. Each week you can lower the temperature by 5 degrees. We always try to target an arrival date around the first week or two of May because this time frame enables the birds to get outside at a younger age due to the warmer daytime temperatures. If you have never set up a brooder before it is not difficult. The first newsletter, that should arrive by the end of March, will have instructions to help you get prepared.

Will Laying Flock participants and Pullet Chain participants compete against each other at the shows?

Yes. You will have participants from both projects competing together. The focus of the judges at the shows is on the youth, not the bird, so there is no advantage given to one project or the other.

Do I have to use my project bird at the shows?

While we encourage youth to use their project bird, it is not a formal requirement. There are instances where it may make sense for youth to use a different bird. For example, some of our youngest 4-H'ers have difficulty holding a larger bird. In these cases, it is acceptable for them to use an alternate bird, such as a bantam, that may be a 'better fit' for the youth. 

Can cockerels / roosters be used as the show bird in the regional shows?

No. All show birds in the Upstate Region shows must be pullets / hens. However, shows outside of our region may have different rules. If you attend a show outside of our region be sure to check with them on the rules they have set.

Will our birds have to be blood tested?

All show birds will have to be blood tested before the show. Those that participated last year are aware of the antigen shortage of 2019 (antigen is used in the blood testing). The good news is that we should have plenty of antigen for 2020 and getting your bird tested will be much easier.

How much space will I need in the coop?

As a general rule of thumb, you will need about three square feet per mature chicken inside the coop, and 8 to 10 square feet per bird in an outside run. More square footage is better. For roosting, it is best to have 10 to 12 inches of roost space per bird. It is recommended that you have one nesting box for every 5 hens (although, without fail, there will be one or two boxes that most pick as their favorite).

Can I raise the birds on a scratch feed ration?

While chickens love to eat scratch feed, it does not supply the needed nutrients for them to develop properly. Think of scratch feed as 'candy' for your birds as it only delivers about 6-8% protein content. If you use it at all, only do so as an occasional treat. When your birds are growing, they should be on a balanced ration that provides a minimum of 18% protein (20% is better). When you see the first egg, they should be transitioned to a layer ration that contains 16% protein with added calcium.