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UJTS Program

The Turkey Program provides an opportunity for youth to experience the poultry production industry from start to finish.  At the end of the project the youth will have freshly processed turkeys just in time for Thanksgiving.

Utah's State Junior Turkey Show is unique in that 4-H and FFA members raise their birds to market age just like other shows, but then the birds are processed in a state-inspected poultry processing plant, cooled in stainless steel tanks, and judged for quality and conformation. The top 30 toms and 30 hens from the judging and the heaviest tom and hen are then sold at the Utah State Junior Turkey Auction. Many of the remaining birds are often sold at participating county auctions. Youth are required to submit a 4-H or FFA record book on their turkey project and are eligible to compete for cash prizes and scholarships sponsored by the show. 

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Step 1: APRIL The first step in the Turkey Project is ordering your turkey poults. Poults are baby turkeys. This is done by completing the online Poult Order Form and submitting it, along with payment on the Turkey Show Website. Each youth is allowed to purchase up to 15 poults. How much space do you have? Your turkeys will get big (between 20 and 30 lbs when fed correctly) and will need a clean space that predators cannot get into. Who are you going to sell them to? Each youth is responsible for selling their fresh processed birds. They can only show one tom and one hen in the Utah State Junior Turkey show. However, only the top 62 birds in the State Show will qualify for the auction. It is important to think about your buyers, because some buyers prefer smaller birds. Hens tend to mature smaller than toms. Order Forms this year will be held for approval to ensure that you are a registered 4-H or FFA member. 4-H Youth need to be at least 8 and in the 3rd grade as of September 1, 2023. Please Note: All birds received as part of the Utah State Jr. Turkey Show must be processed at the poultry processing plant in Bothwell, Utah in November - NO EXCEPTIONS! If birds are supplied by the Utah Jr. Turkey Show to individuals who do not process their birds at the turkey plant in Bothwell, Utah, they will be on probation the following year. If the violation is repeated, they will not receive poults thereafter. Any exceptions must be approved by the UJTS Committee.

Step 2: Picking up your Poults JULY The second step in the Turkey Project is picking up your poults. Poults arrive near the end of July. You must contact your 4-H leader or FFA advisor in early to mid-July to know the exact delivery date. Because we work with a transportation company, the exact time of poult arrival will not be known until the night before. Reminder emails and texts will be sent from your 4-H office or FFA Advisors. Please pay attention to your email and text messages from your leaders leading up to poult pick-up. *We will not allow any school emails as students do not have access to them over the summer break, and emails from USU tend to get filtered out and not delivered* It is important that poults are picked up promptly from your 4-H Office, FFA Advisor, or pre-arranged pick up location as per county or advisor discretion and placed promptly into your home brooder to set them up for optimal growth and development.

Step 3: Raising your Turkeys JULY - NOVEMBER From July to November you will experience raising market turkeys.

Step 4 - Preparing Your Portfolio All 4-H participants must complete and turn in a 4-H Portfolio to participate in the Jr. Turkey Show and Auction. A 4-H Portfolio consists of a single page Cover Letter and 1-2 page Resume detailing their 4-H experiences. The cover letter should address the following: Summarize your project for the current year and specifically outline the skills you have developed, knowledge you have gained, and goals you have achieved. Describe your 4-H leadership experiences and how you have grown as a person. Provide details on the impacts of 4-H community service and how these experiences have affected your community. Explain how your involvement in the Utah 4-H State Turkey project has impacted your life and challenged you to grow and push yourself outside of your comfort zone FFA Members will be required to complete their SAE Experience as their record book.

Step 5: Submit your Processing Form OCTOBER Before you can participate in the UJTS and complete your Turkey Project by processing your birds you must submit your Processing Form. This form is where participants designate if they will be participating in the Utah Junior Turkey State Show and/or County and Auction, and how many birds they will be processing. It is important to remember that all birds ordered through the UJTS Program MUST be processed at the Bothwell plant. This is MANDATORY and was an agreement you made when you ordered the poults. For example: Participant 1 ordered 7 toms and 6 hens. One of their hens died early in the project. They would like to participate in the UJTS. This means they would select 1 tom and 1 hen for the UJTS and the other 6 toms and 4 hens for the extra processing day. Participant 2 ordered 10 hens. They do not wish to participate in the UJTS so they select 10 hens for the extra processing day. Processing and Registration forms, along with processing payment, must be submitted BEFORE you drop your birds off to be processed.

Step 6: Sell Your Turkeys It is best if your sell your turkeys before the Jr. Turkey Show. This can be done in a few ways. If you are stuck here are a few ideas to help you get started: Pick a price per pound ($3.00 per pound is average). Market them the right way. People love to purchase meat that was locally raised by 4-H and FFA members. Contact friends and family. Other things to consider: It is best to give an estimated weight range when selling them to your customers. That way it provides you with flexibility after they are processed. Carefully weigh your birds prior to processing as they will bruise easily. This gives you an idea of what size the birds will be which is helpful information for your customers. Remember: Estimated Dressing weight is 70%-80% of live weight. This means if your bird weighs 25 lbs live they will weigh 17.5-20 lbs after processing. Be sure to provide a "Thank You" note to anyone who purchases your bird at the auction.

Step 7: Utah Junior Turkey Show & Processing Days NOVEMBER The UJTS usually takes place the 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving. The following timeline is very important as it is the participants responsibility to transport their birds to and from the facility. Wednesday Prior to the Show: The day before your show birds (1 tom and 1 hen per participant) go to the show they must be tagged. Participants will receive an email with tagging details from your County 4-H Representative and FFA Advisors. Once birds are tagged, participants must fill out the Google Form with destination location and bird information. To help make processing cleaner, please withhold feed from the birds the night before/morning of processing. Thursday (Show Day 1 - Processing): Show birds must be delivered to the Bothwell Plant by the participant. (7:00 am delivery) Birds are processed this day by the show Committee. Friday (Show Day 2 - Judging): Show birds are judged by the Jr. Turkey Judge. If your bird is one of the top 62 birds and has qualified for the auction you will be notified by the show committee. Saturday (Show Day 3 - Auction/Bird Pickup): If participants birds have qualified for the show they must be present in order to participate. If your birds did not qualify for the auction, youth must pick up their birds from the facility that day. Participants must wear 4-H and FFA Livestock Dress for the auction A long or short sleeve shirt, which fastens down the front with a collar, is mandatory. Shirts must be solid white in color and need not be Western style. Black or blue pants are to be worn. There is to be a 4-H emblem or patch on all 4-H member shirts. (This can be purchased at the 4-H office for $1.00). The top 62 birds are auctioned in the following order 1st: Grand Champion Tom and Hen 2nd: Heaviest Tom and Hen 3rd: Reserve Champion Tom and Hen 4th: First Place Tom and Hen Thereafter, the next 27 show toms and 27 show hens will be auctioned in order of their respective placings. The Following Week (Processing days will be shared with counties once we know how many birds need to be processed the following week): All other birds must be delivered to the Bothwell Plant by the participant. (7:00 - 9:00 am delivery) Participants are expected to stay and take part in the process. Duties include plucking, weighing, bagging, tagging, etc. Note: It is important to ensure you have the necessary equipment to transport your birds (tarps, coolers, etc.) to keep them at the optimal temperature. The following day of YOUR county processing day: Participants must pick up their processed birds from the Bothwell Plant. Birds will not be released the same day as processing due to USDA guidelines and cooling requirements. Birds must be picked up between 8:00 and 10:00 am the next day to make room for the next counties birds. Note: Many people schedule customer drop off the day they bring their birds home from the processing plant to ensure they have freezer space available.

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