SANDYVILLE - At just 12 years old, Carter Taylor has developed some impressive farming and business skills over the last three years.
"I believe in giving people good, quality meat, and I like taking care of animals," he said. "I really like showing at different fairs."
Carter, a sixth-grader at Ripley Middle School, raises pigs and cattle on acreage throughout Jackson County. Some land belongs to relatives and some is rented.
Carter's main business is pigs. He sold 34 of them to 4-H and Future Farmers of America members in five counties last year. His purebreds have won grand champion for the last four years at the West Virginia State Fair.
While he doesn't name the animals, it's obvious he has a fondness for a hog that was the first to win grand champion and became the mother of each winner thereafter.
"I have 16 pigs now," Carter said. "A hog is bigger and older."
Carter has hogs penned in an area on his cousin's property so that the animals may be outside or within the shelter of a metal building. These include a spotted Poland China, a Hampshire/Yorkshire mix, and a Yorkshire. They weigh 700 to 800 pounds each, and Carter is comfortable climbing in the pen with them.
In a separate area of the metal building are two white purebred Yorkshires and their respective litters, including three babies a little over a week old and eight piglets that were two weeks old on Monday. The youngest piglets weigh about 2 pounds and the oldest weigh 4 pounds.
Earlier this week, the squealing babies focused on eating as their mamas tried to nap.
Carter explained that warming pads beneath the babies and special lights above them keep the piglets warm.
"I will keep some to show," Carter said of the white, pink-eared wiggly piglets. "Others will go to other kids in the county. I sell them for show pigs."
The pigs will go for about $175 each.
The price at a fair for a full-grown hog is generally $3 a pound and the average weight is 250 pounds. Considering money spent on feed, veterinary care and shelter, he figures the profit is $200 or more per hog.
Products are also sold at the Jackson County Farmers Market with the price depending upon the cut of meat. Carter and his family routinely have meat butchered at Nelson's Meat Processing in Milton and also recommend R&C Packing in Bidwell, Ohio.
Aside from pork, Carter and his parents have cattle. They now have eight cows that are breeders as well as a brand new calf. Breeds include Hereford, Angus and Simmental. Two steers will be ready to be sold for beef by June. Different factors determine price such as cut of meat and quantity sold. The goal is to clear $100 a head.
Cattle are scattered over a couple of farms and rotational grazing is used. The animals mainly eat grass and hay. Occasionally, they get some molasses feed pellets. They are hormone free. The pigs eat corn and pellets with no drugs or additives.
Carter's jobs include feeding the animals, artificially inseminating the pigs, cleaning pens, giving shots, and helping load animals for market. He also cuts the teeth of the baby pigs.