By Rhea Hebert
In June, parents, teachers, Extension workers and kids from across the state flocked to CALS’ Poultry Teaching Unit to pick up baby turkeys – called “poults” – they hope to raise into prizewinners at the annual NC State Fair.
Youth from all over North Carolina sign up in March to participate in the Youth Market Turkey Show, held during the fair every October. Winners receive recognition and entry into a turkey auction.
The annual poult pickup event is a priority for CALS’ Prestage Department of Poultry Science, spreading education and engagement. At 4:30 that morning, research specialist Dannica Wall hit the road to Greensboro for her own poult pick-up: almost 1,000 tiny turkeys, newly hatched. Participants also received five pounds of starter feed, underwritten by industry support.
During pickup, participants carefully maintained the health of their new birds by stepping into a standard disinfectant powder on their way in and out of the building. To help with the long day, many department faculty and staff members were on hand, greeting participants, monitoring the poults, bagging poult feed and explaining next steps to each proud new owner. About 43 percent of this year’s participants are newcomers to the show.
As each poult left the building, participants and department helpers alike mused about which turkey, and which North Carolina youth, would come out tops at the show, though everyone will have to wait for October to find out. In the meantime, watch Carm Parkhurst demonstrate how the turkeys will be judged.