About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

4-H/FFA Market Livestock Projects for Beginners

     If you, or your child, have been wanting to have a 4-H or FFA livestock project, now is the time to begin planning for the  2012 livestock show season. For children, 9 or younger, beginning with a market goat or market lamb is a great choice because they are small, easier to handle, and the cost of purchasing, housing, and  feeding is less than a beef or dairy animal or even a market hog.     
     Now before my fellow beef producers step up to voice opinions about the opening paragraph I would like to clarify that if you are a beef producer and your child has been around cattle, beginning with a beef heifer is great! I'm directing this post primarily to those families who may not be beef cattle producers or who have younger children. The smaller species are super beginning projects because the children can gain confidence in their ability to control the animal and have a safer, more enjoyable time with an animal closer to their size.

*Important Information for Kentucky Exhibitors* 
     Kentucky 4-H and FFA market animals must be tagged prior to the deadlines for each species. Kentucky 4-H market animal exhibitors, be aware of the livestock certification program requiring all 4-H market animal exhibitors to attend 6 hours of training before tagging their market animals. For more information contact your 4-H agent now for training sites and dates in your area. The  2012 Guidelines for Validating Market Animals for 4-H and FFA members can be found at the following link:  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/afs4hyouth-files/validations/2012_Validation_Program_Rules_Only.pdf
      Market steers and market heifers must be tagged by March 31. Market goats, market lambs, and market hogs, must be tagged by May 19. Validation sites (tagging sites) and dates can also be found at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website, on the Division of Show and Fair promotion page. Just follow the link and look to the bottom right corrner for 'Calendars'. http://www.kyagr.com/marketing/fair/index.htm The KDA site also lists dates, locations, rules, and general information for preview and district shows for all species. Also, read the Ownership, Possession, and Care rules found at the followig link.  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/afs4hyouth-files/possession/Ownership-Possession-Care_Rules-2012.pdf

     I like both the market goat and market lamb projects for young children because they are animals that are easily trained and are led with a halter or collar. The correct way to lead a lamb is without a halter, by holding the lambs head, however, for young children with their first project I believe it's best to give the child confidence, letting them use the halter in the ring. You can teach the child to hold the head when setting up the animal while still having the halter in hand. He/she may not win in showmanship for using the halter, depending on regional preferences and the judge, but the gain in confidence to control an animal can be an invaluable lesson.

Entering the showring at this young age can be intimidating, but sending small children into a show with a halter gives them confidence which helps them to relax and have fun. Thanks to Dallas Bailey for providing this photo of herself and my son at our county fair market lamb show in 2001. Both continue to exhibit livestock today. 
       Having a livestock project requires a lot of responsibility for both parents and child. I think it is most important for the child to want  an animal for a project. It's great if this is the dream of the parent also, but there will only be difficult days ahead if the child is not interested in the project animal.  Key factors in deciding on species should include shelter and housing available, budget for purchasing the animal, budget for feed and care including vaccinations and de-worming costs. You have to consider your area also. If you have goat or lamb producers nearby, that may make the decision for you.
     I think it's important to include the child when selecting the animal, whether it's from your own farm, another producer's farm, or a live auction. This is a great way to begin an education of livestock judging and selection, however if you don't feel comfortable with the task, ask the breeder, another 4-H/FFA family, or your local 4-H agent or FFA advisor for help.  Keep in mind your budget and what you plan to do with this project and it may be easier for you to select just 2 or 3 animals for your child to choose from. Transportation to fairs is also easier with lambs and goats because they can be hauled in the back of a pick-up truck in a cage or in a small trailer and don't require a more costly livestock trailer. Keeping first projects simple and inexpensive is great for everyone involved.

Judge's first look at a market goat showmanship division at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair.

     Market hog projects are great fun and super if you have a barn or shed with a concrete floor. Some may say you can make it without concrete but it's difficult to keep a  200+ pound hog from rooting and destroying a dirt-filled shed or barn. It's hard to imagine how quickly that cute 30-40 pound pig can grow to 270 pounds at only 6 months of age, but it happens! Watch for future posts with more information on market hog projects.
     Stay tuned! I plan to begin featuring breeders and junior exhibitors in my next posts.    

Photograph of Kentucky State Fair market goat show, property of Wanda Quiggins

1 comment:

Chris Morris said...

I truly appreciate your working guys, thumbs up!!Animal market size