For Chrysta Beck, who just completed her junior year at Pettisville High School, one of her major interests has been chickens.
The interest started about 10 years ago, when she began raising chickens for 4-H and FFA.
She now has a flock of 200 chickens: 50 hens and 150 broilers.
She began serious studies of the species in the eighth grade, when each student was required to participate in the local science fair.
Beck decided to use her chickens for research.
She enjoyed it so much, she has picked a new aspect of research involving chickens each year, performing research using her own flock.
So far, she has investigated protein levels in chicken feed, the effects of different colored lights on chickens, and the effects of differing temperature ranges.
After each phase of research, she adjusts the conditions of her chickens’ environment to create the best circumstances for growth and development.
This year, Beck investigated the meat quality of different varieties of chickens. Over a seven-week growth period, she monitored the development of the individual birds, their food consumption, and food consumptionto body mass ratio.
When they were harvested, she measured the moisture retention of the meat– the higher the moisture retention, the higher the meat quality.
Overall, her study took about 11 weeks to complete.
She would like to continue her work in the poultry field.
She plans to attend college at either the University of Arkansas or Mississippi State University, which have excellent poultry science programs.
She intends to put her experience to use in the research arena.
Ideally, she wants to look into what goes into raising the birds rather than the harvesting aspect or behavior related situations.
Research related to the growing process is typically conducted in a hatchery.
“I got to visit a hatchery last summer, and that was really cool,” She said.
She hopes to work in a similar setting.
The chances of her doing so are very high.
State Science Day
This year, Beck’s research project was entered in the Ohio Academy of Science State Science Day in Columbus, Saturday, May 11.
Beck and her research caught the attention of many, and she received several awards, including the Kenyon (University) Science Scholarship, the Buckeye Scholar Award, a science scholarship to The College of Wooster, and the Statistical Analysis Award.
Her supervising teachers, Donna Meller and John Poulson, were pleased.
Poulson said Beck is a hard worker who is willing to put in extra effort.
The award she appreciated most was received at the International Science and Engineering Fair, May 12-17 in Phoenix, Ariz.
She placed third in the animal science field in grand judging. It is the first time a Pettisville student has placed at ISEF since 1997, said Meller.
“It was the one I put the most time into,” Beck said, adding she was happy to see her hard work pay off.