Lessons learned through livestock competition

The most importance lesson learned is there is no magical brush, fitting job, feed additive but hard work and perseverance always pay off.

Showing goats for my children is the same as baseball to other children. They put their heart and soul into learning everything they need to so they can do a good job. How do you learn what you need to so you can be competitive?

  1. Learn from other people. Call your friends, family, and other 4-H leaders from other counties or states who have been showing for years. Ask them to give you advice and demonstrate showing or fitting tips for you.
  2. Learn from YouTube videos. Download clipping, fitting or showing demonstrations from YouTube.
  3. Learn from an expert. Seek out the demonstrations that the feed companies are hosting and go.

Showing goats was a new adventure for both my husband and I. However, we decided that as a family we were going to learn what we could and give this new adventure our all. Children that show livestock either through 4-H, FFA or a jack pot program learn valuable life lessons. A skill is a learned ability. Life skills are those competencies that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they live. The life lessons learned by showing livestock include:

Lesson 1- Dedication: Children must be dedicated to the project that they choose. They must walk, feed and learn about the project before it ever enters the ring. You cannot buy a goat at the beginning of the summer and only break it to lead just before fair. You must walk the goat on a daily basis to get it ready; first for showmanship and second the goat needs exercise.

Lesson 2- Responsibility: Children learn to have a sense of responsibility when they have chores they must do every day. It’s up to the child to understand the different needs of animals, but they all require daily attention even when its field day at school or your friends are waiting. Clean water and feed twice a day is a must for any market animal.

Lesson 3-Work ethic: Children that show animals learn that quality and quantity of work is a direct reflection of personal character and integrity. A child with strong work ethic takes the time to produce a quality project and also takes pride in their project. A child must work with the animal on halter breaking, washing and clipping to cleaning out the barn its hard work but definitely worth it.

Lesson 4-Confidence: Children that show animals must be able to show their animal in front of a crowd and talk to the judge about their animal.

Lesson 5-Sportsmanship: Children that show animals must be able to lose with grace. Congratulating the winner and thanking the judge are all part of being a great sportsman. Children learn to always do their best. Whether they win or lose, do so graciously.

The most importance lesson learned is there is no magical brush, fitting job, feed additive but hard work and perseverance always pay off. Children who learn life skills through a show halter will never forget the pride in a job well done. These are skills that develop children into capable, competent, and caring adults, as well as being taught desirable habits and attitudes. Children learn to help one’s self, which leads to helping others.

During the summer my family spends the summer showing goats at youth livestock jackpot shows. We spend hours in the barn, walking, clipping and getting ready for the various shows. For our family competition is a family event. We spend our entire Saturday showing, eating, laughing with friends from all over the state at the various shows. Many times people think that only the elite livestock show people can show at these shows. That is untrue, these shows are open to all. Usually between the ages of 7-21. Yes, there is competition in livestock shows but this is what keeps the families coming back every weekend. The competition is what kept our family interested. The first year we showed my son was last place with showmanship and with his goat. We learned so much from the people at the shows that by the end of the year he placed first in showmanship. The next year we took what we learned about picking out the “right” goat to show and placed higher in the goat classes. When this question was posed on Facebook many people felt that children themselves can be competitive and things go fine. It’s when the parents get involved is when things go south especially when jealousy is involved.

Parents need to teach their children healthy ways to be competitive and in my Michigan State University Extension article What do youth sports teach our children anyway talks about the life lessons that children learn from competition. Learning to lose with grace keeps you humble and it’s a skill that goes beyond childhood and into adulthood. 

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