LSU AgCenter state livestock show set for Feb. 8-15 in Gonzales
Hundreds of youth from across Louisiana will gather in Gonzales this February for the 85th annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
LSU AgCenter officials expect more than 2,400 4-H and FFA exhibitors to bring about 1,500 breeding animals, 1,500 market animals, 175 pens of broilers and 600 exhibition birds to the competition on Feb. 8-15.
By the time those 4-H and FFA members reach the state show, they already will have qualified in parish and district competitions during the first few weeks of the year. All will arrive in Gonzales aiming to be state champions — or at least earn rewards for their hard work and dedication.
"Judges are brought in from all over the country to evaluate the quality of animals presented by our state's 4-H and FFA youth," said livestock show manager Dwayne Nunez.
The 2020 livestock show is made possible by endowed funding from the Meraux Foundation, Gerry Lane Enterprises and Nutrien, said Patrick Tuck, executive director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
Other donors include First South Farm Credit, Sunshine Quality Solutions, Mosaic, Louisiana Land Bank, Zen-Noh Grain Corporation, the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, Louisiana FFA Foundation, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Boot Barn, Tuck said.
Supreme Champion animals in seven breeding species — beef cattle, miniature beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, goats and swine — will be presented awards supported by an endowment from the Meraux Foundation of St. Bernard Parish.
Six exhibitors will earn Premier Exhibitor awards, which place emphasis and recognition on exhibitors’ knowledge and skills in the 4-H and FFA livestock projects. Supported by an endowment from Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, the program is open to participants exhibiting beef, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry and goats. The awards are based on performance in tests of each youth's knowledge of the livestock industry, practical exercises demonstrating skills and the ability to communicate effectively.
Senior Champion Livestock Showman awards will be presented to exhibitors in the following categories: dairy, swine, exhibition poultry, broiler poultry, beef, miniature beef, sheep, breeding goats, market goats and dairy goats. Supported by an endowment from Nutrien, the awards will be presented in the senior 15-year-old-and-up division.
The livestock show also includes a quality assurance and ethics certification program that educates youth on proper and ethical use of animal health products, ensuring a high-quality, wholesome product, Nunez said.
While the annual event may be called a livestock show, it's more about the young people than their animals, said LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson.
"This event provides an opportunity for some of the most outstanding youth in the state to receive recognition for their hard work in learning not only the scientific principles that must be mastered but also the responsibility required to raise this wide array of animals," Richardson said. "This show also is about the dedication of the many parents, teachers, volunteer leaders, 4-H agents and FFA advisers who have worked with the young people to help them grow as people and responsible citizens."
As a result of what they learn, generations of young people who have participated in LSU AgCenter livestock projects have gone on to become leaders, whether in the livestock industry or a variety of other fields ranging from medicine to government, Richardson said.
Youth participating in livestock projects gain knowledge of animal husbandry, including selection, genetics, nutrition, health, showing, economics and marketing of livestock, Nunez said. "But they also develop skills such as communication, leadership and cooperation," he said.
Competition in various phases of the show will begin almost as soon as the first animals are checked in on Saturday, Feb. 8, and will continue daily through Feb. 15.
A concluding awards ceremony at 4 p.m. on Feb. 15 will recognize champion market animal exhibitors, champion showmanship winners and Premier Exhibitors as well as recipients of the annual Superintendent of Education Award, Attorney General Award and Governor Awards.
More information on the show and the variety of research and educational activities offered by the LSU AgCenter is available online at www.lsuagcenter.com and through LSU AgCenter parish offices.