On Oct. 7, 2017, FFA students from all over the district attended animal selection in order to obtain an animal to raise for the next five months. The students will feed, walk, bathe and groom their animals to be the best that they can be in order to maximize profit when they sell them in the livestock show in February. This year is the 75th year of Katy ISD putting on an event like this, but for many students this is their fourth and final year raising an animal. Senior Wyatt Williams just received his fourth and final pig for the Katy ISD show.
“Raising animals for the past four years has taught me time management, commitment and responsibility for another living thing. My life has a better routine when I’m raising than when I’m not because I have to stick to my schedule as much as I can in order to be able to work with my pig as much as I can each day,” said Williams.
The animal selection process began by all students who are eligible pulling a number in order to know the order of selection. The first person gets to go pick whichever animal in their breed that they want and take it to their school’s barn. Whenever the students show their animals in February the judges will look for fat content, stance of legs, muscle structure, bone structure and how the animal walks, so the students (with the help of their teachers) pick whichever animal already best fits the criteria of what a judge wants in order to have less to work on.
“The more practice you get showing your animal, the better you are. You get to know your animal and their temperament, which allows you to make adjustments in order to compete well,” said Williams.
Once the animals are at the barns, the students commit at least four hours a day to their animals for the next five months. They get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to go feed their animal before school, and then come up again in the late afternoon in order to work with it for a few hours. The animals are taught to walk and stand correctly, and their diets are paid close attention to in order to get them in the best shape and allow them to grow. The students who spend the most time with their animal are often the ones selling their animals for the highest prices in February.
“I’ve made so many friends in FFA after spending many hours with them at the barns every day for four years. I’ve learned to work efficiently and thoroughly, but also accept help from others who may be more experienced than I am,” said Williams. “The class that just graduated helped a lot with showing us how to work with our animals and keep our pens clean. Everything we learned from them we’ve shared with others younger than us to try and help them out as well.”