Samuel Forrest picked up his 25 day old chicks Friday, March 2nd to raise for the Angelina County Fair, April 17-21.
Samuel Forrest Raises Broilers for County Fair
A little over two weeks ago, Samuel Forrest picked up a cardboard box of 25 day old chicks to compete in the 2018 Angelina County Fair. Samuel is the 11 year old son of Darel and Crystal Forrest and is the brother of 8 year old Levi and 3 year old Alaura.
Carrying on a family tradition, he is competing in the fair just like his dad and uncle did years ago. Samuel is raising broilers for the county fair.
A “broiler” is a chicken bred specifically to grow muscle efficiently and be eaten. Their genetics are very different from the egg producing breeds we love to have in the back yard flock. Raising broiler chickens is an excellent youth project for beginners to livestock exhibiting. Chickens are considerably easier to handle, require less space, and are less expensive than other species.
Make no mistake, raising broilers isn’t easy. It’s an intensive 6 weeks of effort leading up to the show. Several times a day, Samuel will stir the broilers, make sure the feeders are full, keep fresh water available, and clean the bedding material (wood shavings) when needed.
This will be Samuel’s 3rd year to raise broilers. Last year, he also had market rabbits and participated in consumer science and this year he’s raising his first hog.
Chicks were delivered on Friday, March 2nd and will be ready for competition on Tuesday, April 17th. That quick time frame of only 6 weeks is very typical for market conditions. It usually takes only 6-7 weeks to raise a broiler to market weight.
The broiler show certainly provides everyone the most equal chance to win out of any competition at the fair. All chicks that students received for the show were provided by a single hatchery. The chicks were the same breed and hatched on the same day. The birds are wing banded and randomly assigned to each student.
A broiler chicken eats less than 2 pounds of feed for every pound of body weight gain. Therefore, a 6 pound broiler requires only 12 pounds of feed to complete its 6 week grow-out cycle.
Show birds can be raised in a backyard or a garage; they do not need a large amount of land. Broilers can often be raised in urban areas where larger animals would be impractical. In fact, it is recommended that broilers be raised indoors to maximize growth and prevent attack by predators.
Samuel’s dad and uncle were involved in 4-H as kids. “My cousins got me in the pee wee show when I was 4,” says Samuel. When asked what he thought of his first participation in the show, Samuel replied, “I loved it!” His uncle and aunt Brent and Tamesha Forrest along with their children are very encouraging and supportive of Samuel’s projects.
Samuel says, “The hardest part of raising chickens is finding time to check on them and making sure they’re up and eating.” His parents hope that Samuel will, “learn the value of hard work, understand the process and expense that goes into getting an animal market ready, and have an appreciation for how our food is produced.”
At the county fair, Samuel will only show the best 3 broilers in the show out of the original box of 25. Our show requires entrants to bring a pen of three broilers and the remaining birds at home will be processed and eaten.
If you know a 4-H or FFA exhibitor, such as Samuel, you can support them at the auction on Saturday, April 21st or you could place an order for their left over broilers. With only 3 making the final cut to go to the Fair, there will be many more needing to go into the freezer. I know of youth who sell off their smaller chickens as fryers as they near the county fair.
And when asked what he wanted most out of the project, Samuel remarked, “Of course, I wanna be in the sale ring on Saturday night!”
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.