Turkeyfoot students may raise game birds

September 20, 2018

Turkeyfoot is going to the birds.

It’s part of an idea to expand the school’s agricultural programs.

Program instructors came to the school board meeting Monday to discuss adding raising pens allowing students to raise game birds that could be sold to local preserves. Instructors are considering an indoor building for newborn chicks along with an outdoor pen.

“We thought it was a practical way for kids to have an SAE (supervised agricultural experience) project and put a little money to it at the same time,” presenter Dave Lytle said.

The pen would require lighting and heating. The designs could support up to 200 quail. Instructors said the facility would give more than 10 students a chance to raise birds.

Jessie Shafer, the high school agriculture science teacher, said raising birds teaches students responsibility, along with financing and record keeping. Students will create business plans to show opportunities for profit.

“We want them to get the idea that this is a business plan,” she said.

Shafer said that birds offer an opportunity to earn a profit.

Instructors were not sure Monday whether students would start with eggs or chicks. Eggs can cost 40 to 60 cents each, while quail chicks cost 70 cents, and chukars cost $1.25. instructors said there are grants available to purchase young birds.

Officials said there might be other costs, including water and pen fees, if students use the school facilities.

Shafer said the program would be run like similar supervised agricultural experience projects, with students checking in with a manager to make sure they are meeting their hourly requirements.

“Since it’s the kids’ SAE, it would be their responsibility to come down and take care of them,” she said.

Board members did not take a vote Monday on whether to build the raising pen but said there is interest in starting the project at the school.

“From our perspective, we just need some t’s crossed and i’s dotted,” council President Michael Diehl said.

Shafer said a large number of students enrolled in agricultural programs are interested in animal science, but the biggest problem is finding a place to raise the animals.

Birds are a good starter animal, she said.“It’s something that’s cheap for them to get started in.”

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