As summer comes to a close, the weather starts to cool down children return to school so begins the season of harvest, fairs and livestock shows. Many of local 4-H youth have been working with their livestock projects from the beginning of the year.
A highlight and culmination of working with their projects is the opportunity to exhibit them and compete for awards at local shows and fairs. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be involved raising and showing livestock. The youth involved in this program spend countless hours feeding, grooming and training their projects to lead or walk so they can participate in livestock shows. Many of these youth are second- and third-generation family members who have been involved in showing and the livestock industry.
Youth gain many valuable life skills from being involved in livestock projects. Some important skills gained from this experience are time management, self- responsibility, problem solving, critical thinking, record- keeping and communication skills.
The Yadkin-Davie Livestock Association has been supporting this endeavor for more than 20 years with its annual 4-H livestock show. This livestock show is one of the first events of the season for many youth from the local area. What once started out as a simple market lamb show held at the county park has evolved into an area livestock show being held at the Lone Hickory Arena, which is a beautiful venue to have a show.
The show is a traditional 4-H show where the youth must complete a record book to compete. This part teaches youth how to keep records like expenses for feed, veterinary expenses, equipment expenses. Other aspects of the project record include the youth setting goals on what they want to learn and ending up with a story and scrapbook of what they have learned and accomplished by doing this project. 4-H’s slogan is “learn by doing” youth really gain valuable life lesson and “hands on experiences” raising and showing livestock.
There are two types of classes for youth to exhibit their livestock in. The first would be a showmanship which is done by age of the exhibitor and species. The youth are evaluated on how well they present their animal and how knowledgeable they are about the animal. Age divisions include cloverbud youth ages 5-8 (non-competitive), junior 9-13 and senior 14-18.
In showmanship the conformation and quality of the animal is not considered in the judge’s final decision. Many youth pride themselves on winning the showmanship classes because a silver belt buckle is the prize for the winning youth in each division. Additionally, this is where youth can see where their hard work will pay off even if they don’t have the best animal. The other classes youth compete in are breed or market classes. This is where the judge is evaluating the quality of the animal for either breeding or market purposes.
Highlights of the recent show include Senior Beef Showmanship Champion Eli Thomas from East Bend. Additionally, Eli Thomas showed the Champion Beef Heifer. Other local youth highlights included Jake Hannah and Hunter Hendrix receiving record book recognition, Hunter and Addison Hendrix having Champion and Reserve Market Lambs and Connor Cummings having Reserve Champion Ewe.
This show is a cooperative effort with the Yadkin–Davie Livestock Association and Cooperative Extension and the 4-H youth programs. Many local organizations contribute sponsorship to this event.
Melissa Staebner is the 4-H agent for the local North Carolina Cooperative Extenstion office.