Westwood FFA students preparing for Fair
This year Raul Faustino and Ariel Patton are raising hogs, Kyle Johnson, Ryan Turner and Jennifer Ward are raising steers, Kyle Torres has a sheep breeding project and Kaylea Crawford will show rabbits.
Jennifer Ward, the supervisor of the FFA fair projects this summer, said the type of animal the student selected to show this year depends on what kind of experience he or she wanted. For example, Worthington has shown a lamb, a hog and is now working with a steer.
Ward said some prefer to show animals with which they have become comfortable. Faustino will show a hog for the third year while Turner and Johnson, who have shown hogs in the past, decided to raise steers this year.
Kaylea Crawford is showing Holland Lops which is a breed of rabbit.
“I’m excited because this is my first time entering an animal in the fair. I chose rabbits because I wanted to start small and I didn’t want to leave my animal in the barn. I am happy with what I chose for I really like rabbits,” said Crawford.
Ward said the hogs and steers are weighed weekly to make sure they are meeting a certain average daily weight gain so they are eligible to be shown at the fair. In addition, the animal must weigh a certain amount. For example, a steer must weigh 1,000 pounds and gain on average a pound and a half daily.
“It shows the buyer it is still a young animal and it will taste good. They are marketable,” said Ward.
In addition to feeding the animal properly students must exercise it to build lean muscle. Students must find the right balance of exercise however, for they don’t want to get rid of the fat.
“You should be able to run your hand up the rib cage from the hip to the head and feel the fat coverage. You don’t want to feel those ribs,” said Ward.
The students will not only be judged in their market class they will also show the animals. In order for an animal to feel comfortable in the show ring the students must work with it. This is especially important with the steers.
Kyle Johnson said he took his steer to Chico to participate in a competition the college hosted that helped students of all ages prepare to show their animals. The judge gave him some pointers on how to improve that he plans to follow when he shows his steer at the Lassen County Fair.
During the fair students will report to the barn at 7:30 a.m. and remain there until dark. It’s a lot of work to raise an animal for fair, said Ward. The reward for those who raise market animals is a sale at the auction, which begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 22.
“The auction supports the youth of Lassen County and the kids work really hard at getting the animals ready for market,” said Ward.
According to Ward many of the students put the money away for college, some use it to purchase their fair animals next year and others use it for such expenses as school clothes.
“The money goes to a really good cause. I recommend everyone come and at least see the auction if they have never been before. They can congratulate the kids for the hard work they have done,” said Ward.
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