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Kids learn livestock business in Pittsylvania County

The elementary, middle and high school students are given less than six months to get their animal ready for the auction.

Justin Ward

WDBJ7 Reporter

3:01 PM EDT, April 26, 2013

CHATHAM, Va.

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Hundreds of kids learned the business of the livestock trade Friday during the 65th annual Junior Livestock Show.

"My steer is Bart which is short for Bartholomew and my heifer is Bessie," said Jessica Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is an old pro in the livestock business.

"This is my sixth or seventh year showing, but only my second year showing a steer. My first year with a heifer," Wilkerson said.

She's given less than six months to get ready for this moment, the day she has to show and sell Bart and Bessie.

Getting first place is more than the twinkle in their eye or their perfect pitch. The judge is looking for class, not only in the animal but in its owner.

"They're watching the youth. How they work their animal," said Brandi Boaz, a 4-H Coordinator from Caswell County, North Carolina.

Judging the animals looks a lot like a dog show. Each step and foot placement, even the color has to be just right.

Those qualities usually bring the highest price from bidders and every part of this is a learning experience.

"They actually have to keep up with their expenses. They have to do a lot of record keeping. But they keep up with their expenses and they actually show a profit or a loss. And if they have a profit most of it goes usually in their scholarship fund for college," Boaz said.

To put a price tag on this project, it costs hundreds of dollars to cover the cost for feed to raise the animal.

Then a cow for example can sell for up to two thousand dollars in today's market.