HENDERSON — Brendon Burd is ready to weigh his rabbits.
With gloves on for protection, he picks up the animals one by one and places them on a scale nearby. He finds out their weight has gone up about three-tenths of a pound in a week, bringing their overall weight to about 3.2 pounds.
Brendon, an 11-year-old sixth-grader who is home-schooled, is one of numerous children participating. The show is for children who are involved in Rusk County Youth 4-H Clubs, Rusk County FFA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapters.
During the show, students have an opportunity to show and potentially sell their animals, which can include chickens — roasters and broilers — lambs, goats, rabbits and heifers. They also have an opportunity to make money by selling creative arts and shop projects.
County extension agent Ashley “Nicci” Ahart said participants will likely be off of school on that Thursday and Friday of the show, and all of the projects, including animals, shop projects and creative arts projects, will come in that Wednesday.
“The ultimate thing for these kids and the goal that they have in mind when they start their project is ‘I want to make sale,’” Ms. Ahart said. “They want to make the sale on (that) Saturday.”
Brendon is going into his third year with the show.
He said he always enjoyed animals and had friends who participated.
“It just kind of looked fun and looked like a good opportunity,” he said.
Each year he has shown rabbits, and he received third place for rabbits his first year. He said he chose rabbits, partly because “they’re the easiest.”
To prepare for the show this time around, Brendon weighs the rabbits, runs them, helps feed and water them daily and helps clean out the cage about every other day. Then a week before the show, he said he has to clean out their ears.
His mother, Shelli Burd, said the animals are auctioned, and local businesses and individuals will bid on rabbits.
“It kind of builds a relationship with local businesses and the kids who are ultimately raising college money,” she said.
Brendon has four rabbits, although participants only take three to the show.
Brendon said the fourth animal can serve as a backup if a rabbit is too heavy for the show or loses a toenail, which disqualifies the animal.
Most of the people who buy the rabbits don’t want them and end up giving them back to the seller, he said. Last year, he gave rabbits to a nursing home, where residents were able to watch them.
Along with the rabbits, Brendon also is doing two creative arts projects — a coaster holder with coasters and a hook rack made of silverware. He has done a bird house in the past, among other projects.
His mother estimated that there were 90 to 100 entries last year in creative arts. She said the goal is to make money.
Overall, she and her husband wanted their son to learn to set a goal and make a budget, Mrs. Burd said. For instance, if he’s doing a creative arts project, she said he can try to be frugal in his activities so that he’ll benefit if he makes the sale.
She said they also hope Brendon learns how to work with materials he can find and can use his creativity.
Jack has participated in the show for two years.
“He got to do that (see other people involved), and it kind of sparked an interest. We want to do it for our kids. We’re fortunate to live on a farm,” his father, Trey Hacker, said.
This year, his father estimated that the goat division will have 80 to 90 entries, which will be divided according to appropriate weight class.
“Classes are not predetermined. You don’t know where you’ll fall until you actually get animals there,” he said.
Out of all the participants, there will be a grand champion and reserve champion — the first and second place winners, he said.
Hacker said then once the reserve champion and grand champion are crowned, the first place goats out of every class are brought out, and the judge picks the sale order, and the animals that are left over can be sold to the open market at a flat rate of price per pound or participants can take the animals home. He said the process is similar for lambs and pigs.
However, with chickens, he said the participant is trying to grow one chicken to be the biggest and the most uniform.
“You’re trying to get him big to his maximum potential and filled out completely,” he said.
Jack and Hope said they both enjoy the process of preparing and being around the animals.
Their mother, Amy Hacker, said she hopes her children learn responsibility and how to take care of something that’s dependent on them.
If they choose to stay in this field, she said she also wants them to pick up things along the way such as how to better their animal for a sale and the right kind of feed to use.
Additionally, she said she would believe that the children learn tough love because they get close to the animals and then try to sell them.
“It’s a lot of work, but it does pay off with teaching them responsibility,” she said. “We want it to carry over (into other areas).”