No turkeys or chickens. San Joaquin AgFest Junior Livestock Show & Auction none the less opened Monday with more than the usual number of rabbit, goat and beef projects.
The reason for that, according the AgFest spokesperson Molly Watkins, is the possible threat and spread of Newcastle disease, which, while no danger to people, is lethal and contagious among the feathered species.
An outbreak back in 2002 was started in a backyard flock that eventually spread to 22 commercial poultry farms, resulting in the death of 3.2 million birds.
Newcastle disease was discovered earlier this year in southern California — several birds tested positive for the disease — with more than 1.2 million birds being euthanized in order to stop the threat of spreading.
AgFest, meanwhile, is the biggest junior livestock show in the county.
Watkins noted that dedicated FFA students and 4-H youngsters are here at the San Joaquin County fairgrounds through Saturday, exhibiting their vocational projects and showing while looking forward to selling their livestock projects.
Included is Sydney Meninga, who is a sophomore for the Manteca High FFA chapter.
A year ago, her crossbred pig didn’t make the cut. “It was a runt,” she said.
Not so for “Daisy.” That’s the name of her swine that just made weight.
Her plans are to have Daisy auctioned off over the weekend and using the money to go towards her college fund.
Daisy and all of the other junior livestock projects were kept cool and comfortable, for the most part, with fans, misters and spray bottles as temperatures soared into triple digits.
Makayla Baker, who is also an MHS sophomore, sprayed cool water on Daisy and her stablemate during the afternoon of this first day of AgFest.
Her crossbred pig named “Sweet Pea” also made weight, coming in at 265 pounds.
Baker and Kaitlyn Steele, who will be a senior at MHS this fall, were exhibiting livestock at AgFest for the first time.
Her Berkshire pig named “Kenny” weighed in at 256 pounds.
According to Watkins, Sunday was check-in day for all market swine along with commercial gilt, breeding and market beef, boer goats, breeding sheep, and commercial goats.
Market sheep, market goats and market beef had their check in and weigh in earlier on Monday.
AgFest is a partnership of Delta Cal Section FFA, San Joaquin County 4H, San Joaquin Office of Education’s Educational Foundation and the 2nd Agricultural District.
It’s produced strictly by volunteers of the San Joaquin County Junior Show & Auction Council.
Admission is free daily before 10 a.m. at the AgFest that takes place at the county fairgrounds through Saturday. Parking is $10 per car.