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 5, 12 or 25 pullets (female chicks) and must choose one of the following four breeds: Golden Comet, Buff Orpington, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Ameraucanas (descriptions of the breeds can be found below in the FAQ section). Those choosing the new 5 bird option will pay a deposit of $20, those choosing 12 birds will pay a deposit of $35 while those choosing 25 birds will pay a deposit of $70. 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, 2019)
    • Cloverbud, 5-8 years of age
    • Junior, 9-13 years of age
    • Senior, 14-18 years of age
  • Each youth will receive a project record book that must be completed and turned in to their local 4-H Agent in October. Books will be judged and returned to the youth in November.
  • Youth are expected to show in a minimum of one showmanship show during the project year. The show season begins the first week of September and continues through October. There are currently plans for five shows in the region and there should be one close to you.
  • Youth participants who choose the 12 or 25 bird option are expected to return birds to our final auction in November. Those originally choosing 12 birds must return 3 to the auction while those originally choosing the 25 bird option must return 5 birds. Those choosing to only get 5 birds initially will not be required to return birds to the auction.
  • Youth that complete the project, including returning birds to the final auction as stated above, will have 100% of the initial deposit  returned and the rest of the birds are yours to keep. Youth choosing the 5 bird option are not eligible for the reimbursement of project registration.

****    What Is New For 2019    ****

  • We are excited that in 2019, youth in ever county of South Carolina will have the opportunity to participate in our 4-H Poultry Projects. Those that have participated in the past may notice a few minor changes, but this was done to ensure consistency across the state.
  • Live in a town? -- Many youth live within towns that limit how many chickens you may have. In an effort to include those that live within towns, we are offering an option of only 5 birds. This option differs from the 12 and 25 bird option in that they are not required to bring birds to the final auction. Since Clemson Extension will not be able to recoup the cost of putting on the project from the auction, we are charging slightly more per bird for the five bird option. Even with the slightly higher cost per bird, it is still comparable with what you would pay at a local feed store or Tractor Supply. And best of all, you can take advantage of the 4-H experience. While this option is targeted to those that live within municipalities that limit the number of birds you may have, it is open to anyone, even those that live on large farms.
  • Town limits birds to under 5 --  If you live in an area that will not allow you to have 5 birds, contact us and we will do our best to work out a solution for the youth to be able to participate.

Timeline for 2019 Project (runs March - November)

  • February 28: 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.
  • July-September: Showmanship clinics will begin to take place across the region & NPIP Tests
  • August through November:  Showmanship Show season (Show dates will be announced by the end of July)
  • Late October:  Project Record Books will be due to your county agent.
  • Late Fall :  Poultry Auction 
  • January 2020 : 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 all be pullets. With the other three breed choices below, there is a 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.

Buff Orpington:

Buff Orpington adult Buff Orpington chick Buff Orpington eggs

Buff Orpington -  An old time favorite in backyard flocks. They are a nice quiet breed with a beautiful buff (golden) color and are considered a good layer of large brown eggs. They are cold hardy. Buff Orpingtons tend to be slightly larger than the other three breeds (maturing at 7 to 8 pounds). In the backyard flock, Buff Orpington tend to be the most docile and biggest pet. They mature at around 6 months of age and will lay approximately 200 large brown eggs per year. There is nothing like the sight of a flock of Buff Orpington in the back yard.

Barred Plymouth Rock:

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

Barred Plymouth Rock - Another 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 large brown eggs per year.

Ameraucana:

Ameraucana adult  Ameraucana chick  Ameraucana eggs

Ameraucana - Owing their origins to Chile, in South America, they are commonly known as the Easter Eggers. They lay colored eggs that are usually an olive drab color, but occasionally blue, green or even a pinkish tint. These birds will vary in size and color, some may have whiskers and others muffs or feathers that cover their ears. While they owe some of their heritage to Araucanas, these are in fact different than the true Araucana from Chile which is a very rare bird to find. These Easter Eggers do well in the backyard flock and have an overall calm demeanor.

*** Registration will remain open until February 28th, 2019 ***

*** ON-LINE REGISTRATION IS TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE ***

*** We recommend that you use the printable registration (linked below) ***

 Click here to access printable Upstate Poultry registration

Frequently Asked Questions:

What's the refund policy?

For the Pullet Chain, refunds are allowed only through the end of the registration period. 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 record book for both their pullets and existing mature birds.

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 5, 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 youth 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. (The 5 bird option this year does not require birds to be brought to the auction)

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 setup a brooder before it is not difficult. Contact your county 4-H Agent if you have questions. You can find your agent by following THIS LINK.

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 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?

In South Carolina, you cannot legally bring a chicken to any type of public setting where it could potentially come in contact with birds from other farms unless it has been blood tested (and banded) for pullorum within 90 days of that event. Your 4-H Agent will arrange a time to blood test your birds as needed. Blood testing is generally done near the end of August. Blood testing will also be available at most every show.

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.