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PINE LEVEL — This spring, some 130 young people will take part in the Johnston County Youth Livestock Show and Sale.
Among them will be brothers Connor and Carter House, who will show the Hampshire crossbred pigs they began caring for in late December. “We picked up about two weeks ago and got started,” Carter said in an interview earlier this winter.
Their first priority is helping their pigs put on the pounds, said the brothers, whose parents are Andy and Marsha House of Pine Level. The animals weighed about 65 pounds each when Carter and Connor picked them up. They’ll weigh between 220 and 280 pounds by showtime.
“Right now we want them to gain weight by eating all they can,” said Connor, a 15-year old freshman at North Johnston High School, where he is a member of the FFA.
The weight gain is partly to help the brothers earn more for their pigs when the sale part of the show and sale takes place. Last year’s sale grossed more than $141,000 for the young people who took part.
“We mostly give them feed that has corn and soybean meal, with lots of vitamins and minerals mixed in,” said Connor, a show and sale participant since age 5. “They need lots of water too.”
The brothers, who enjoy hunting and fishing when not in school, said raising their pigs and getting them ready to show is a team effort.
“We both walk and exercise our pigs so they will be used to getting out of their pen and being around people when the show comes up,” said Carter, a seventh-grader at North Johnston Middle School and participant since age 5. “I really enjoy the show and sale.”
So too do a lot of other young people in Johnston County.
“Our registration numbers are up from last year,” said Dan Wells, livestock agent with the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service. “I am anticipating having around seven steers, 90 hogs, 30 market lambs, 60 market goats and 15 heifers in the show.”
Though it’s not a requirement, most of the young people in the show and sale are members of an Extension 4-H club, Wells said. (The county has 26 of those.) And many of the young people have parents and older siblings who took part in the event. Connor and Carter’s older sister, Courtney Lanning, competed when she was growing up. After graduating from East Carolina University, she now works at WakeMed in Raleigh.
The show and sale teach valuable life lessons, Wells said. “When we receive program survey responses from parents each year, they constantly identify responsibility and sportsmanship as positive attributes children develop from raising and showing livestock,” he said.
Wells recently visited the House brothers to take a look at their pigs, which, by the way, don’t have names and likely won’t get any.
“We don’t usually do that,” Carter said, nodding in agreement as Wells explained that naming an animal can make it harder to part with later on.
This year’s Youth Livestock Show and Sale will take place April 13-15 at the Johnston County Livestock Arena, 520 County Home Road, Smithfield.