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4-H Youth: Poultry

4-H Leader's Guide for Poultry

Topics discussed in this publication include:


The 4-H Poultry Project can be and usually is financially profitable for a boy or girl. Many people feel that only men and women trained in the field of poultry production are qualified to supervise 4-H poultry projects. This is not true! Poultrymen can serve as leaders, but if not leaders, they are excellent sources of subject matter information.

The purpose of this guide is to help you, a leader, to know more about the 4-H poultry project and how you can help the 4-H members understand and do a better job with their projects. The member's individual project is a foundation upon which you can develop other learning experiences. The project teaches record keeping, production, management, marketing, and consumer information of poultry products.

The 4-H Members

The 4-H members have imaginative minds and have varied backgrounds and behavior patterns. One of your greatest satisfactions will be in helping these boys and girls develop and improve their attitudes, knowledge, and skills.


What are the objectives?

Eight objectives are:

  • Develop leadership talents and work toward achieving the broad objectives of character and effective citizenship.
  • Develop desirable work habits, sportsmanship, and ability to cooperate and express ideas through participation in projects, discussions, method demonstrations, judging teams, and exhibits.
  • Appreciate and use scientific information in poultry production and marketing.
  • Acquire information and skill in efficient production of poultry and poultry products.
  • Improve knowledge of grading, marketing and merchandising of poultry and poultry products.
  • Improve knowledge of the nutritive value of poultry meat and eggs and how they contribute toward good health.
  • Learn the importance of the poultry industry to the local, state, and national economies.
  • Acquire information on the opportunity that poultry offers as a career.


Selecting and Planning the Poultry Project

The basic factors to consider are:

  • Members interest
  • Home situation
  • Available financing
  • Market outlets

Vary project size with age and ability of the 4-H member

A beginning member can learn principles from a small project. Encourage members to start projects no larger than they can handle properly.


4-H Poultry Activities

Many poultry projects available include:

Poultry Judging Contests (pdf file)

Egg Preparation Demonstration Contest

Embryology (Avian Embryo)


Helping the 4-H Youth

As 4-H leader you can help members develop their projects and complete them successfully. Here are some ways you can assist members:

  • Help work out an understanding between parent and 4-H member.
  • Help the member choose his specific project.
  • Recommend sources of finances.
  • Advise on buying chicks.
  • Assist the 4-H member to obtain up-to-date subject matter.
  • Help youth develop skills such as candling eggs and vaccinating poultry.
  • Encourage members to take part in talks, demonstrations, and exhibits.
  • Advise members on selling poultry products.
  • Aid members in keeping records, analyzing them, and preparing reports for 4-H records.
  • Visit 4-H youth and check their projects throughout the year.


What Leaders Do At Meetings

Boys and girls enjoy active involvement in the program. Keep this in mind when planning programs. Your advance planning enables many 4-H members to take an active part in the planning as well as the program itself.

Have special programs for those interested in poultry. A project advisor or leader can be helpful. This needs not be a poultryman, but should be someone interested in youth as well as poultry.


Suggestions for Preparing and Guiding a Meeting

  • Arrange for meeting site with appropriate facilities.
  • Obtain materials and equipment used in presenting topic - slides, illustrations, movies, pictures, models, etc.
  • Arrange for presentation of the topic - discussions, demonstrations, talks, skits, panels, etc.
  • Consider others who can assist with the meeting.
  • Provide an opportunity for discussion and practice of presented topics.
  • Review the material covered during the meeting.
  • Announce the topic for the next meeting.


Appropriate Topics

  • Selecting breed and size of project.
  • Preparing brooding facilities.
  • Proper brooding of chicks.
  • Feeding and watering chicks.
  • Judging poultry and eggs.
  • Proper disposal of dead poultry.
  • Record keeping.
  • Vaccinating.
  • Slaughter and dressing of broilers.
  • Preparing birds for shows and fairs.
  • Housing and feeding laying hens.
  • Lighting of layers.
  • Litter management.
  • Grading eggs and packing for market.
  • Exhibits for fairs.
  • Marketing.
  • Water management in winter or summer periods.
  • Poultry diets and feeding programs.
  • Sanitation and disease control.
  • Culling of non-productive laying hens.



Tours improve the training and stimulate the interest of 4-H members. Many leaders arrange for all members to visit such places as egg and poultry processing plants, feed mills, large commercial poultry farms, and retail food stores where eggs and poultry are available to the consumers.

You might consider a visit to each member's project but only after special precautions are taken. Do not handle the birds. You can carry disease from one farm to another. Only the owner should enter the pens and then only after proper cleaning and sanitation have taken place.


Awards and Contests

As a leader, you will want to explain to each member the awards and contests program on a county, state, and national basis. These awards are made possible by people interested in the all-round development of 4-H youth.

Poultry Events and Activities with Awards

  • Judging - District, State, and National
  • Visual Presentation - District and State
  • Poultry Record Achievement - State, Regional, and National
  • Poultry Chain - County
  • Barbecue Contest - County, State, and National
  • Egg Preparation Demonstration Contest - County, State, and National


4-H Program Enhancements

Besides County Agents and University subject matter specialists, persons from the poultry industry can help with 4-H meetings, tours, visual aids, demonstrations, transportation, and financial aid. Press, radio and television offer an opportunity to inform people throughout the county and area of your 4-H activities and achievements. Publicizing 4-H accomplishments will strengthen the program and enhance participation from supportive groups. Use success stories to promote interest by appearing at civic groups and community meetings.


Your Rewards

Your rewards will be through developing new skills, experiences, and friendships. Satisfaction when you see the accomplishments of the 4-Hers you work with is irreplaceable. Community, county, and state recognition will result from the interest and imagination you show as a leader. You also fulfill your responsibility to the development of youth in your community.