Forrest Family Raises Broilers for the Angelina County Fair

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Forrest family raising broilers and competing at the Angelina County Fair

9-year-old Alaura Forrest is being helped by her dad, Darel Forrest, as they place new chicks in the pen in which they will be raising them.

There are three County Fair exhibitors in the Forrest family. The youngest two will be showing a pen of broilers in just a few weeks while the oldest will serve in volunteer youth leader role.  Alaura, Levi, and Samuel are the kids of Darrel and Crystal Forrest and members of the Blue Ribbon 4-H club in Angelina County. 

The youngest exhibitor in the family is Alaura who is nine years old and in third grade. Just old enough to compete in the 4-H program, she has been active in the Pee Wee show since she was three. For quite a while Alaura has been watching her two older brothers participate and has been anxiously waiting until she could also be a participate in the show. Not only will she be showing broilers but will also compete in the arts and crafts division.

 Levi is 14 and in the eighth grade. Levi loves music and he and his older brother both serve on the youth worship team at church. This is his third year with broilers and he as has also entered the arts and crafts show.

The oldest is Samuel. He is 17, in 11th grade. He loves playing guitar and piano. He serves on the Sunday worship team and leads the youth worship team band. Samuel is serving his second year as a Youth Volunteer Poultry Ambassador. The Angelina County Fair Ambassador program provides high school aged fair participants the opportunity to develop and practice advanced leadership skills as well as become an advocate for the fair and agriculture as a whole.

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.

To be competitive, exhibitors do have a good bit of work to keep the water fresh, the feed filled up and the temperatures correct. Levi says, “The hardest part about being in the Fair is losing sleep to check on the bird’s feed and water.” Additionally, the kids have to keep up with their other responsibilities while raising them.  Their father, Darell said, “”Keeping the kids and myself out of the barn might be the hardest part! We all love it!”

Chickens 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.

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 from the original pen are shown in competition by a student.  The remainder of the birds never make it to the showgrounds.

“Being with our family as well as other families and supporting the kids that are involved is probably the best part of being in the County Fair”, says Crystal. She continues, “I hope they learn what a vital role farmers and agriculture play in our daily lives. It’s more than a competition. We have a wonderful community that comes together and supports our youth”. 

This year’s broiler show at the Angelina County Fair is sponsored by Pilgrim’s Pride and will be held on Tuesday, March 19 starting at 6 pm in the main arena at the George H. Henderson Expo. The entire County Fair is from Monday, March 18 thru Saturday, March 23 concluding with the sale on Saturday afternoon. 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. 

Cary Sims
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu 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.

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