Thinking of showing a 4-H animal project this summer? Plan ahead!

Now is the time to begin thinking about showing your 4-H animal project at the county fair or other livestock shows. Planning and preparation begins now to learn how to feed, fit and properly take care of your animal.

If you would like to take a 4-H animal project to the county fair or other livestock shows, you need to have a plan.  First – what type of animal would you like to learn about and raise?  Have you thought about small animals? There are many to choose from.  While rabbits and poultry are the most popular, there are many more to choose from and learn about through Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H youth programs. How about a cavy, pocket pet, turkey, pheasant, dog, cat or a bird?  Researching your favorite animal or project can be a fun thing to do on the computer. 

Once you have decided on a project, the next thing to focus on is caring for the animal, including types of feed, transportation, housing, and the cost of raising them. Large animal projects can be more time consuming and the initial costs will be higher.  If you are taking a beef, sheep or swine market project, you should consider the time invested in raising the animal before showing and selling it at the livestock auction at the local county fair.  If a large animal project is what you are interested in, you should start planning for the project at least a year prior to the fair to make sure you have everything that is needed.

Another important step in taking a 4-H animal project is joining a county 4-H club.   Even if you have not made a decision about what animal you would like to take, joining a club will help to learn about 4-H and what it offers to youth.  You should also consider attending a county fair during the summer to watch the animal shows and talk to the youth involved. New 4-H’ers can also learn about the many projects you can be a part of by attending animal project workshops at the Kettunen Center or participating in animal science contests held at MSU.

No matter which animal you choose, raising animals teaches you many life skills.  One very important life skill is decision-making; both the decisions you make before and while raising your animals. Other important life skills learned from 4-H animal projects include planning and organizing, responsibility and keeping records. Raising animals also presents you with many opportunities to learn about future careers, such as becoming a veterinarian, working for the Department of Natural Resources, or employment in the areas of medical and scientific research.

For more information regarding 4-H youth programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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