Category Archives: Turkeys

NC Mountain State Fair Turkey Show

The kids worked really hard to care for their turkeys and present them in the NC Mountain State Fair this year.  I was really proud of them and all they learned.  They worked together as a team doing chores, and raised eight turkeys from day old poults.  They learned about animal science, business and marketing, responsibility, and lots of hard work in the process. 

If you would like to see some of what they did to raise their birds and get ready for the fair, please read here .  If you want to see how they learned about showmanship and how to show their birds you can read here .   You can find all our 4H related stories here .   

There were five rounds of hens shown, and five rounds of toms shown in the Youth Market Turkey Show.  For each round of judging, 10 kids with 10 similar weight turkeys would enter the judging ring, so that is about 50 hens, and 50 toms, were shown in the show.  Each kid was expected to show a hen and a tom in the show.

From getting the birds to the show, setting up their pens, waiting for the show to start, and showing the birds, it was an all day event.  We started around 8 in the morning, and finished around 5 in the evening. 


You enter the ring with your turkey and sit on a hay bale.  You are supposed to hold your turkey by the legs until the judge comes over to you.  Your position around the ring is based on the weight of your bird, with the lightest at the beginning and the heaviest in each round at the end.

The judge looked over the health and presentation of each bird (feathers, feet, head, eyes, breast, etc.), ask the kids questions about the bird (breed, age), and how they raised it (type of pen, feed, exercise, etc.), and feel its breast and legs. After comparing all the birds in the round, he would score the birds (first, second, third, and so on).  If you took first place in one of the rounds, you would have the chance to compete for the Grand Champion spot in the last round.

Our 11 year old son took second place with his hen turkey.

Our eight year old son placed 7th with his hen turkey.

Our six year old son took 6th place with his hen turkey.

The hen turkey my younger son showed was pretty calm for him in the show ring.  But the tom was a different story. 

Here, my six year old son is showing his tom and was scared and trying not to cry as his turkey was kicking his legs and trying to escape during the judging.  He could barely hold his strong legs and was afraid of his sharp claws.  Dad had gotten a deep cut on his hand from the claws just minutes before the tom show started, it bled badly and was painful, and this really scared him. For the hen show, the judging team allowed the parents to sit close by and help the youngest kids hold the bird if needed.  But for the tom show, they asked the parents to let the kids show the birds on their own, rather than have the parents help hold the birds.  He was just petrified.  Dad was worried about him to, given the wound that had just occurred and knowing how strong and dangerous a tom turkey can be.

After the judge checked the tom over, they allowed the him to let the turkey stand while the judge made his decisions. (several of the younger kids were allowed to let their birds stand).

My eight year old was not a bit afraid, and held the tom turkey’s legs with one hand while the judge was finishing up at this point.

All three of the boys and their tom turkeys did well. 

The six year old took 6th place with his tom, the eight year old took 3rd place with his tom, and the eleven year old took 7th place with his tom.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of them holding their toms with their ribbons, but as the day went on, it became more difficult to get pictures because the room was full of dust making it hard for the camera to get a good photo, and my toddlers were out of patience.  Many times I just sat the camera down and missed some photo opportunities.

All of our turkeys were donated to the Mana Food Bank following the show.  The birds will go to feed the hungry for Thanksgiving meals.

The kids who won Grand Champion and Reserve Champion received really nice prizes.
The winning Grand Prize Hen received an $800 cash prize and the runner up a $400 cash prize.
The winning Grand Prize Tom received an $800 cash prize and the runner up a $400 cash prize.

That is a great thing about participating in programs like this, if you win the top spot, you also win a nice cash prize you can set aside to help with college, or future endeavors. 

Though this is our first year, and we did not win any top spots, there is always the chance to try again next year.  Many of the kids in this program have shown for several years to reach these goals of Grand Champion.  With lots of hard work and tweaking your methods of raising your birds, you just might place in the top spot someday.  It is a worth while goal, and a great program for kids.

This post will be linked with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers

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Animal Care With 4H Turkeys

Three of our five kids are showing turkeys in the WNC Mountain State Fair this year.  This is a little introduction to what they have been learning caring for their birds.

Some wonderful folks in the Banyard Bandits 4H club are sharing their pens with us.  We currently live in a subdivision and cannot keep farm animals.   When we lived on the farm, we had large pens out on pasture where are animals were able to have free range grass and insects.  But now we live in a subdivision and we don’t have the resources we once had.  We are so thankful the 4H club offers this as it has allowed our kids to participate in raising animals without having to have the full resources and responsibilities of having a farm.

My 8 year old son wishes the turkeys could stay babies forever because they are much calmer and easier to hold than the grown turkeys.  I am sure he feels this way about lots of animals: puppies, cats, etc.  Animals do seem cuter when they are babies.

Each of the children learned how to pick up and carefully hold the baby turkeys.

Next, they learned about daily care of the birds.  The birds need a clean and safe pen to live in.   They need it clean to prevent disease, and they need it safe to prevent predators from killing and eating them.

The kids have their birds in four pens.  Each pen is made of concrete and is open with wire fencing on two sides, the top and the front.  The birds have a heat lamp to keep them warm while they are little, and a roost to get them up off the ground.  They have a natural instinct to want to roost up off the ground at night.

Here the children are removing the soiled wood shavings the birds have pooped on.

Once they get the pen cleaned, they apply new clean wood shavings to the floor.  The pens need cleaned and re-bedded about once a week.

Each day the waterers need removed and cleaned.  The waterers will grow algae if not kept clean and this can make the birds sick.

This is one of my favorite photos.  My 6 year old son’s arms were not long enough to reach deep into the bag without his head and neck going in to the bag also.   He was really proud of learning to do a good job and fill the feeders carefully without spilling the feed.

Each feeder is cleaned and re-filled each day.  Sometimes if they are not too dirty, just a few shavings may need removed and then you can re-use any feed left.  Other times, if the feed is unsalvageable, then you need to dump what is left and re-fill the feeders.  These red feeders were used when the birds were small, but once they were big, the feeders were changed to feeder on the wall that doesn’t get dirty.

Many days the kids worked together as a team to accomplish the chores. 

Even the younger two children have been able to participate.  I love this!  I don’t want any of the children to be left out, and I want all of them to learn things together. 

The younger children often work as a team too on the job that fits their abilities.  They think they have the greatest job anyway of re-filling the waterers.  I think they are right.

No job is too big or too small.  Here the youngest is learning how to open and close the gate while the older ones go in and out.

The birds are more of a challenge to hold as they get bigger.  Here the four year old is seeing just how much the birds have grown and how much heavier they are.  She needs dad’s help to hold the weight of the birds as they get bigger.

The 11 year old is always holding a bird.  He was like this when we lived on the farm too.  He would hold chickens, sheep, and goats all day if you let him.  Even though it has been three years since we left the farm, it seems to be a deep rooted part of him to nurture and care for animals.

The turkeys keep getting bigger and bigger everyday.

It is only a month longer until the kids will show their turkeys in the WNC Mountain State Fair.  They are so excited and learning
so much about responsibility, animal science and husbandry, and working together.

Over the next couple of weeks I plan to do a turkey unit study with the kids and learn more about animal husbandry to expand on their learning.  They will also make a 4H project record book of their learning experience.

The kids are really looking forward to showing their animals in the fair.  In addition to the turkeys, the oldest son is also showing a goat.  He has been hard at work with dad going to the goat workshops and learning all he can.  The rest of the family has not gone with them to this and I don’t have any pictures of the him with the goats to share with you at this time.  Perhaps I can convince dad to take the camera along to the workshop tonight and capture some photos of what our son is learning.

Be sure to check out all of our 4H learning adventures listed here .

This post will be linked up with
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
Raising Homemakers

Please share.