This year Todd and Kenna participated in the 4-H Junior Livestock program. The program provides youth with the opportunity to purchase a young livestock animal, raise it, enter it in various competitions associated with the county fair, then sell it at auction. The program teaches animal care skills, of course, and also teaches simple economics as the youth are required to purchase the animal at the beginning of the program and pay for feed and other expenses associated with its care. When the animal is sold at auction, the youth get to keep the money. If everything goes well, the youth will make a small profit. Local businesses and individuals often act as sponsors in order to assure that the venture is successful.
Todd and Kenna learned about the program from a woman in the ward who is the head of a local 4-H group. There were about six youth in the group, all from our ward. The woman owns several goats, so all the youth raised goats as part of the program. The animals were all Boer goats, which is a breed of meat goat (as opposed to a dairy goat). They kept their goats at the farm of another woman in the ward, who's barn is within walking distance of our house.
Raising the goats was surprisingly involved. In addition to feeding, vaccinating, and castrating them, Todd and Kenna also had to check on them each day and even train them. The training was in preparation for the competitions at the end of the season, and consisted of familiarizing the goats with human interactions like being led on a leash. The kids took the goats on numerous walks around the neighborhood.
The competitions at the end of the season were held as part of the Davis County Fair. This was a huge commitment. The competitions were spread across multiple days, with the auction on the final day. The goats had to be housed and cared for at the fairgrounds for the whole time. The kids participated in three competitions: Showmanship, Market, and Obstacle Course.
The Showmanship competition judged each child's ability to show a livestock animal to a judge. They were judged on their knowledge of the animal and how well they handled it. Todd placed 6th and Kenna placed 7th.
The Market competition judged each goat's ability to be sold for meat. The judges looked specifically for large, healthy animals. Todd and Kenna's goats were a bit young for this competition.
The Obstacle Course tested each goat's ability to be led on a leash over several obstacles. This was the competition that Todd and Kenna had prepared for the most and they did well. They both received ribbons in this competition, but I forget where they placed.
They also entered some of the other competitions at the fair. Kenna entered two crafts that she had made. One took first place and went on to compete at the state fair. Both Todd and Kenna made scrapbooks of their goats and entered them in the "Project" category. Todd took first for his age.
The auction at the end of the fair is a bit of an oddity. Each animal is bid on by generous businesses and individuals who like to sponsor 4-H. The winning bidder normally sells the animal back to the fair for the price of the meat, recouping part of what they spent. The youth get to keep the full amount bid on the goat. The problem is that there normally are more animals for sale than there are sponsors. At the same time, the parents of the youth want their children to have a successful experience. So, the parents in the 4-H group bid on each others' animals with the agreement that they will pay each other back. It's a bit strange, and I don't fully understand it, but it results in the kids having a good experience and the parents supporting the kids' participation via a tax-deductible donation to the 4-H.
I think Todd and Kenna really learned a lot from the program. It was definitely a big commitment, but I think they felt like the hard work was worth it. I'm not sure if they'll participate in the program next year, but I hope that they do.
We are grateful that Todd and Kenna were able to participate in the program thanks to the generosity of many neighbors and members of our family. Thank you so much for your support!