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Agriculture Today

Red, White, & Blue 4-H Poultry Club forms

Red, White, &  Blue 4-H Poultry  Club forms
Michael Schwartz earns first place in the 2010 Fort Worth Stock Show with his white Silkie Roo.

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Wilson County Historical Society
September 7, 2011
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Members of the Wilson County 4-H Clubs will have one more opportunity to explore agriculture with the formation of the Red, White, and Blue 4-H Poultry Club of Wilson County. While turkeys and broilers are part of the junior livestock shows, another poultry division may be added in the future -- backyard and exhibition chickens.

Susan Schwartz and her children, Michael and Sarah, are involved in a new movement that was “retired” 40 to 50 years ago and is making a comeback.

Presently, only one state 4-H club, the Fancy Feathers 4-H Club in Hays County, focuses on this type of poultry. The former members are bringing their experience to Wilson County to form this new club.

According to Susan, the Red, White, and Blue 4-H Poultry Club is only the second of its kind in the state. The focus will be on the breeding, raising, and showing of pure breed poultry.

Susan said the group will “explore the breed standards set by the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association,” including Araucanas, Silkies, and Ameraucanas.

“[How to] raise poultry, learn proper care and feeding, coop building, and maintenance and even showing birds at area shows” are other activities the students will be involved with, Susan said.

Susan had a laying flock, and while researching the different breeds, Michael became interested in the silkies, especially since he can show them.

Susan has learned a lot in the first two shows the children have participated in and wants to share the knowledge for this low-cost project that the whole family can get involved with.

The biggest difference with this program and the poultry show is that backyard birds are considered breeders and not broilers.

While broilers require larger numbers of birds to raise, this program is based on a smaller scale of three to four birds of a specific breed, Susan said.

Susan said the startup cost involves a cage to transport the bird(s) and a backyard coop. “What other project gives breakfast every morning?” she joked.

The exhibitors can acquire birds at any age, from hatching their own birds from eggs, to day- or week-old chicks, to full-grown breeding stock.

Prices range from $1 to $4 for a day-old chick, Susan said, upwards to $9 for a day-old chick.

Susan said that exhibitors get assistance with their projects with help from sponsors. The sponsor gives the student eggs for setting, and after hatching, the sponsor gets first pick. Other sponsors borrow the bird for exhibition only.

Sarah and Michael display great enthusiasm when talking about their projects. Sarah described her project as fun; she began it when she was gifted with Bantam White Araucanas. She was sponsored with a trio of birds -- a breeding roo (rooster) and two hens -- from Star Studio Ranch and Brown Egg Blue Egg.

Sarah has shown the roo and even raised chicks. Thus far, four of the chicks hatched are show quality.

Michael also was sponsored with a breeding pair of Blue Araucanas. His flock has increased by 10 chickens.

Sarah and Michael have participated in four shows: the Gillespie County Fair, the Bluebonnet Classic in College Station, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, and Fancy Feathers Show in Comal County. College Station was the first major show attended by the Schwartzes.

New club

To get more involvement, the Schwartz family is promoting the Red, White, and Blue 4-H Club, a sister poultry club of Fancy Feathers.

“They [the children] are really the founders of this new club,” Susan said. “They both have been showing their birds since last September.”

The first meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 14, and then every second Wednesday of each month, at a place to be determined. Children ages 8 to 18 may join.

“This is a new club, so all members will be voting on the bylaws and officers,” Susan said.

Fees for joining are based on the 4-H requirement: $20 per participant and $1 insurance per child.

Other events include “Pass a Rooster Fund-raiser” and “cluckoff.” In the first event, the visitor will keep a rooster for a day. The visitor may keep the rooster, or, for a nominal donation, pass it on to a competitor.

Michael enjoys the “cluck-off.” As the name implies, the contest involves the contestants “calling their natural calls” as Michael describes it. He even gave an example during the interview for this story.

The group also will be on hand for the “Get Acquainted with 4-H” set for Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Wilson County Show Barn.

For more information or to join this club, call Susan at 830-393-2644 for directions.

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