Students participate in fowl play at the State FFA Poultry Judging Contest

FFA students from across the state recently came to Raleigh to participate in “fowl play” by competing in the State FFA Poultry Judging Competition. A record 88 teams competed at the contest this year.

The event’s purpose is to encourage students to learn more about the poultry industry in the areas of production and management, processing, marketing and consumption of poultry products.

Youth prepare months in advance for the big day at the state contest by studying, practicing and soaking up all the knowledge they can so they can be successful in all parts of competition.

There are nine sections to the contest with each section worth up to 50 points for a total of 450 points. The first section is broiler selection. The second is egg-type hens. In both of these sections, youth must evaluate the birds to determine which is the best. They are given a class of four and place them from best to worst in quality.  

Inside scoop: pigmentation is a big deal when selecting egg-laying hens. Hens with yellow pigmentation in their shanks (legs) and toes are not persistent layers. The more eggs a hen lays, the more bleached their legs will look.

After placing the classes, students have to give reasons regarding the broiler chickens in the third contest section. Here, youth defend their rationale for placing the birds the way they did. They must present their reasons to a judge verbally.

The fourth section, is identification of poultry.

In the fifth section, students evaluate boneless poultry meat products followed by a section in chicken carcass quality grading. In these sections, the carcass is evaluated for quality, meat and color. An example would be a quality poultry carcass cannot have any broken bones.

The next session deals with eggs. Students have to evaluate eggs both internally and externally. Internal evaluations are done through a process called candling. Eggs are held up to a light to determine quality. Students look at the size of the air cell in the egg. The smaller the air cell, the higher quality the egg is. The yolk is also looked at for blemishes. Externally, students evaluate 10 eggs for quality. They look at shape, color, texture, cleanliness and size.

Inside scoop: Grade A eggs must be free from stains and major ridges.

The final section is a 25-question multiple-choice test that can cover topics such as poultry health, management, anatomy and embryology.

The contest is designed to be a thorough test of a student’s knowledge of the poultry industry. Competitions such as this teach youth teamwork, critical thinking, study habits and public speaking skills. In addition, it also introduced youth to a potential career field in the poultry industry.

This year’s winning team was North Stanly High School, followed by Wake Forest and Sun Valley high schools respectively. The first place team received $500. All teams received a plaque and team pins.

Sponsors for the event include: Zoetis, N.C. Egg Association, Perdue Farms, Barnhardt Farms, and in-kind support from the N.C. State Prestage Department of Poultry Science. Also, sponsors for the State Poultry Proficiency Awards include Sanderson Farms & Wayne Community College. Proficiency awards will be awarded at a later date.


About Marisa Linton See

Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock in NC. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 15 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

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