Students at the Fayette County school district’s Locust Trace Agriscience Farm are getting a firsthand look at animal agriculture from the beginning stages to processing thanks to a poultry project funded by an FFA Food for All Grant.
The students raise both broilers and layers, learning the processes involved in all aspects of poultry and egg production. A unique feature of the project is community driven, as the eggs and processed chickens are being donated to the local food pantry.
Shane Norris, the Large and Small Animal Program instructor at the agri-school, said the project allows students to experience community service through animal science in the classroom as well as the lab.
“The infrastructure to get both layers and broilers came through the grant with the understanding we donate the eggs and broilers to God’s Pantry,” he said. “We were also able to partner with Kentucky State University (KSU) using their mobile processing unit.”
Students are able to go to KSU and participate in that processing for consumption stage of the program, something many, having come from an urban setting, never experienced.
Norris said in addition to the community service aspect, the students are able to see chicken-raising on a scale they can replicate.
"They can raise their own chicks and have their own eggs, and it’s smaller operations they could have in their own backyards,” he said. “Also, they learn how to properly manage feeding and watering along with the proper responsibility and how crucial it is to provide for and sustain the chickens while they are here.”
Students must do many things in raising chickens to guarantee maximum results, such as collect eggs daily and record how many from each chicken they gather; measure the feed and make sure the animals are getting the proper amounts; and weigh the chickens regularly and record those weights to measure weight gain in relation to amount each is fed.
Norris said students have given mixed reviews to taking the birds for processing, with some having no problems and others realizing what takes place at this stage.
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