Flocking to the fair: Poultry takes center stage at Youth Fair Livestock Show | News

BELTON — Birds of a feather were shown together Thursday during the Bell County Youth Fair’s poultry competition.

Belton Middle School student Devin Pitrucha, 15, was one of the dozens who raised chickens this year as he competed for the first time.

Learning from his father, who had also raised chickens in the past, Pitrucha said this was his first year participating in the fair. He said he wanted to learn how to raise chickens as a life skill.

“Kids are just so focused on video games, they think these (chickens) come right out of the grocery store,” Pitrucha said.

Both Pitrucha and his sister submitted two chickens each, having decided them out of a batch of 50 that they raised in the past month.

Unlike some other animals, Pitrucha said, he has not gotten attached to the birds that he raised. He said he is planning to eat them after the competition is done, and has already done so with some of the birds that were not chosen.

“I have not got that attached to them,” Pitrucha said. “They are not like actual house pets like dogs and cats, they are just animals that we kill for food.”

Not all birds shown Thursday were chickens, with Holland High School student Bailey Campbell raising turkeys instead.

Campbell, 17, said he is a senior in high school and has been competing at the fair since he was in the third grade.

While Campbell raises multiple animals each year, he said he enjoys raising turkeys and seeing their transformation.

When the birds are purchased, Campbell said they are only a few inches tall. In the two months that he raises them, Campbell said they see quick growth, especially in the first couple weeks.

Turkeys, Campbell said, are judged similar to chickens, with the main focus being on the shape and size of their breasts.

“For turkeys, you are holding them upside down and the judges are feeling their breast, which is the only thing that really matters,” Campbell said. “You want the widest and longest breast. The main thing that you really want is the breast to be consistent all the way up and not to taper as it goes up.”

Campbell said he felt good about this year, with his birds winning him a spot as the reserve grand champion last year.

After the competition, Campbell said, he will probably give away most of the birds he raised or eat those that remain.

“I am not really big into that so a lot of times my mom and I will get family and friends to buy them as they are,” Campbell said. “We do keep a couple to just eat. But if we do butcher them, usually my mom does it.”

The youth fair will continue with showing of rabbits Friday and the steer auction Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W. Loop 121 in Belton.

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