Sixth grader Kolby Ramsey, 12, holds a broiler chick at the County Extension office on Feb. 10. She will be raising broilers to show at the Angelina County Fair on Tuesday March 21 at 6pm in the George H. Henderson Expo in Lufkin.
From left, Kolby Ramsey, 12, and Lane Ramsey, 9, pick out their broiler chicks at the County Extension office on Feb. 10 with help from their advisors, Tim and Debbie Beamon. The Ramseys are raising broilers to show at the Angelina County Fair on Tuesday March 21 at 6pm in the George H. Henderson Expo in Lufkin.
Kolby Ramsey is 12 years old and a 6th grader at Hudson Middle School and is raising broilers for the 2023 Angelina County Fair. She is the daughter of Caleb and Maegan Ramsey.
Kolby along with younger brother Lane excitedly picked up their broilers Feb. 10 at the Angelina County Extension office. Kolby’s mother, Maegan says she hopes their project for the county fair will help her children to learn good work ethic.
“Work ethic is so important and this is a great way to show them just what it means. We expect them to do the work. Yes, we are there to help and guide, but they have to get it done.” she said.
A “broiler” is a chicken bred specifically to grow muscle efficiently and to be eaten. Their genetics are very different from the egg producing breeds we have in the back-yard egg-laying 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.
When asked why Kolby chose to raise broilers, she said she enjoys the project, “I picked this project at first because it was a good project to start with but now I really enjoy it.”
Her favorite part of the broiler show is judging, “I like being in the ring when the judge is moving us around. You never know where you may be placed. It’s exciting,” she said.
She said missing sleep is the hard part of the project, “The hardest part are the really early mornings to feed and check that everything is right with project. I like my sleep!”
Chickens are an excellent project for several reasons. Show birds can be raised in a backyard shed or a garage; they do not need a large amount of land. And broilers can often be raised in urban areas where larger animals would be impractical. In fact, it is recommended that broilers be raised in a good shelter to maximize growth and prevent attack by predators.
This is a short-term livestock project lasting only six weeks. The quick time frame of only 6 weeks is very typical of market conditions. On a commercial scale, it typically takes only 6-7 weeks to raise a broiler to market weight.
The broiler show certainly provides everyone an equal starting point on their way to the competition. All chicks that students receive for a show are provided by a single hatchery. These chicks are the same breed and hatched on the same day. The birds are wing banded and randomly assigned to each student. This removes all bias in the selection of chicks and their assignment to the participants.
A broiler chicken eats less than two pounds of feed for every pound of body weight gained. Therefore, a six-pound broiler requires only 12 pounds of feed to complete its 6 week grow-out cycle.
At the county fair, only the best 3 broilers are shown in competition by a student. The remainder of the birds never make it to the showgrounds.
In 2021 Kolby was awarded reserve champion roosters and she is hoping for grand champion this year.
For parents considering getting their kids to participate in the fair Maegan recommends it, “I would highly recommend getting involved in 4-H. Yes, it helps build work ethic, but it is also gives us great quality time with our kids,” she said.
This year’s broiler show at the Angelina County Fair is sponsored by Pilgrim’s Pride and will be held on Tuesday, March 21 starting at 6 pm in the main arena at the George H. Henderson Expo. The entire County Fair is from Monday, March 20 thru Saturday, March 25 concluding with the sale on Saturday evening. The auction will be Saturday evening in the main arena starting at 4 pm. For more information about the Angelina County Fair, go to angelinacountyfair.com.