FFA chapters across the country celebrate National FFA week, which is February 18-24 this year. This is an opportunity to bring awareness to the FFA program as well as agriculture in general. Hay Springs FFA Chapter vice president, Ava McKillip, was able to share some poultry education with the first grade class, who received a grant from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation to study where our food comes from and where it is produced.
Ava brought 3 chickens, a Dark Brahma, Midnight Majesty, and an Ameraucana, from her 45 head flock for the children to learn about as well as view and pet. The children were able to see and learn the differences between the three breeds and the variations in the eggs they lay. There were samples of light brown, dark brown, cream, and blue/green eggs to view. It was discussed what the chickens eat during the warmer months as free range birds and Ava had samples of the feed and treats they eat during the winter months. One of the first graders was selected to offer the Dark Brahma some dried mealworms, aka “chicken candy”, but the chicken was feeling a bit shy and wouldn’t eat from his hand. To finish up the demonstration, Ava cracked open an egg to point out the yolk, white or albumen, and the air cell.
The children also learned some fun facts about chickens:
* Did you know that chickens have earlobes? By looking at the color of their earlobes, you can generally tell whether the chicken will lay white, brown, or blue/green eggs.
* It’s believed that chickens can see more colors and have better vision than humans. This helps them identify seeds and food on the ground.
* Have you heard of a T-rex dinosaur? Believe it or not, chickens are genetically more similar than alligators to the T-rex.
Ava will be part of a 4 member poultry team representing the Hay Springs FFA Chapter at the state level competition in Lincoln at the end of March.