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OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)-It’s a program that starts down on the farm but stretches into a lifetime of learning…and the kids often don’t even fully understand the lessons they are learning along the way. It seems like only yesterday when seven-year-old 4-H Student Luke Schilling received 20 beautiful Danish brown leghorn baby chicks.

“They started out where you could hold a couple in your hand, a little bitty. And that’s day after hatch usually, they’re shipped straight from the hatchery,” said Jenna Schilling, Luke’s Mother.

“There were black lines here and everywhere else was yellow. And the feet, their legs were like orange. Kind of like orange like a mango,” said Luke Schilling, 4-H Poultry Farmer.

The program gives newborn chicks to students ages 8 to 18. The students raise them to adulthood. With proper care, it wasn’t long before Luke’s fluffy baby chicks took wings, growing to their teenage and then adult egg-aying stage. Our young livestock grower has seen changes in the appetite of these potential prize winning domestic birds.

“When they were like a couple days old they were like eating that whole thing. In like two or one day, I’m not kidding,” said Luke Schilling.

“He seems to be enjoying it, he seems to enjoy the chickens and having them and fooling with them and he seems to like the whole process,” said Jenna Schilling.

The idea is to start with something small like chickens and then graduate to the much larger livestock. This young 4-Her has scratched up many lessons — from a better perspective of where his food supply comes from to valuable life skills like….. hard work pays off.

“Feed them every day, water them every day, and then we also have to vaccinate them since they are going to the show,” said Jenna Schilling.

“If they weren’t so scarred they would be really nice,” said Luke Schilling.

Nice as pets, but the chicks on Luke’s farm are strictly livestock and show birds. Poultry project participants will show their top 6 birds at district level competitions later this month. Winners eventually end up at the Mississippi State Fair this fall.

For more information on the 4-H Project contact Jessica Wells at 662-325-3416.

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