Meat chickens were the focus of an extensive learning unit for GrowNextGen teacher leader Amy Jo Henry’s students at Global Impact STEM Academy Middle School. Henry is the school’s STEM and CTE Coordinator. This seven week project began with students researching breeds to help them select what they wanted to raise, using Punnet squares and genetics to determine traits and qualities.
Students built pens for their 50 market chickens, then went to work on what to feed them. They experimented with feed conversions to achieve the right amount of protein and chose three different feeds.
Raising the birds required careful oversight. Students created a chore chart and chose a weekly manager who made random inspections. A vet came in to visit twice during the project. At the first visit, students learned about what the vet was checking, then did their own exams before the second visit to predict what might be found.
Several guest speakers visited the class and shared on a variety of topics. A biosecurity speaker talked about how poultry facilities work to prevent the introduction and spread of disease-causing organisms in poultry flocks. The students also learned about a certification program on quality assurance and proper handling of animals.
Henry organized a Food Forum and invited many groups in to talk about food: Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio AgriBusiness Association, and Organic Farmers Association. Muslim, Jewish, and Seventh Day Adventist leaders shared about food in their religious traditions.
Students ran a digestive simulation to compare monogastric to ruminant digestion. They learned about meat conversion and how our meat has become leaner over time. A 4H poultry meat judge helped them to examine live birds and carcasses and explained dressing percentage and loss. In a tour of a butcher facility, the class learned about meat cuts and selection, as well as transportation requirements for live birds.
In a language arts tie-in, the students explored marketing, considering egg containers’ packaging and labels and designing their own.
Finally, the class visited The Kitchen Columbus, where they were guided through preparing different dishes with their butchered birds.
What’s next? Henry is adding egg layers to this project on meat chickens. She’s also working with her colleague Shelby Dodds on making chicken treats, an animal nutrition lesson. Watch for updates on these projects!
Look for these lessons to be posted soon on GrowNextGen to share with your students!