With county fair season upon us, youth livestock exhibitors in the Southwind District are busy working with their animals in preparation to show them at their very best. Not only are they practicing to drive their hogs, brace their sheep and goats and set up their cattle, they are working hard to keep them cool and on feed during the hot month of July.
Animals that will be, or have been exhibited (the Woodson & Bourbon County Fairs are already complete!) at the fair did not just appear overnight. Southwind District 4-H members with cattle care for and own their animals for about 280 days, and youth with sheep, meat goats and hogs care for and own their livestock for about 100 days. The time spent with animals teaches basic life skills and eventually help them develop into better citizens.
Following are some life skills that youth livestock project members can gain:
- How to get along with people. A large number of people in society quit or lose their jobs because
they cannot get along with others. 4-H members who show livestock are around people they
have never met but have similar interests. They learn to communicate with these people.
- Sportsmanship. At a livestock show, there is only one Grand Champion. However, there are many
winners. Most 4-H members who show livestock for any period of time usually experience the
extreme high feeling of an exceptional effort and the extreme disappointment of a project that didn’t turn out as well as was expected. Normally, win or lose, the competitors in the show can be seen after the show talking and enjoying life together.
- Responsibility. Feeding and daily chores in a 4-H livestock project teach responsibility. Top
feeders follow the time clock in their daily efforts. This is a good habit to start at a young age and may
reap youngster’s substantial benefits in a career later in their lives.
- Attend to details. Most young people take care of major items in a 4-H livestock project
like fencing, feeding, etc. However many times it’s the little things that make a different: keeping water
tanks and feed troughs clean, working on grooming and showmanship several months before the show,
keeping pens clean and close observation for sickness and disease. Paying attention to details is
beneficial in almost everything we do in life.
- Decision making. Decision making is never easy at any point in our lives. 4-H livestock
projects require several key decisions be made: selection of project animals, selection of feeding
method, care and management decisions, fitting and grooming techniques, etc.
- Goal setting. For every successful 4-H livestock project, there is usually a good plan. Most
details and plans for the project on selection, feeding and management of the project have been planned well in advance. Goal setting is important for everyone regardless of future endeavors.
Next time you are at a livestock show, study the kids instead of the animals. You will notice that most
classes have several winners, not just the one standing in first place.