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4-H kids look ahead to U.P. State Fair

Courtesy photo Gage Heim sits with the swine he plans to exhibit at the 2020 U.P. State Fair in August. This will be Heim’s second year participating in the Junior Market Livestock Sale. In 2019 Heim was ranked six out of 300 exhibitors in the Beginning class.

ESCANABA — 4-H members exhibiting livestock at the 2020 U.P. State Fair Junior Market Livestock Sale are making the best of their time at home by working on an essential part of exhibiting — a completed market livestock record book.

From the moment an exhibitor obtains an animal with the intention of exhibiting it in the fair, they are required to journal and track how the animal was raised.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what goes into selling an animal at the fair,” said Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Educator David Radloff. “Kids have to keep records in a book while raising their animal and submit it to the superintendents.”

There are three record keeping classes, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The child’s fair age — the age they are Jan. 1 of the exhibiting year — determines the class they are in. Beginning class includes children from eight to 10 years of age who exhibit sheep, swine, or goats, and children from nine to 10 who exhibit beef. Children in the Intermediate class are ages 11 to 13, and children 14 to 19 years of age are classified in the Advanced class.

Records help 4-H exhibitors learn about animals, their rate of growth, the feed animals need and feed cost, and habits of animals.

Other expenses the exhibitor records are veterinary charges, bedding, equipment, fees, and trucking-transportation of the animal. Each book is judged on complete and accurate recorded data for a total of 100 points. Items scored in the Advanced class include animal and exhibitor information, goals, known potential buyers, communication and marketing strategies, feed, expenses, and weight records, break even calculations, project efficiency information, and photographs.

“Kids need to score a minimum of 40 points out of 100 to continue in the competition and sell their animal,” said Radloff.

The record book is scored as part of the livestock record. Exhibitors use the guidelines shown in the 2020 U.P. State Fair Junior Market Livestock record keeping rules.

Ten exhibitors from each class are interviewed to determine trophy winners. During the interview each exhibitor express knowledge of their records to the interviewer.

“Top kids in each bracket are interviewed by other volunteers, it’s a good opportunity to interview. The judges check for accuracy in the books and how diligent they were in recording data,” said Radloff. “Rule one of determining your break even price is keeping track of your expenses by keeping records. It is one of the life skills youth gain in doing a livestock project.”

Radloff said now is a good time for exhibitors to practice with their animal.

“I’ve seen first year kids watch older members with their animal and say, I can do that with my pig?” Radloff said. “Now is a good time to set goals and practice with your animal.”

Nikki Hersch, 4-H program coordinator in Shiawassee County, Mich., will have an Online Livestock Learning class starting April 9 through April 30. Topics include in the online series include, ‘Selection and what is the judge looking for’, Showmanship tips, Beef Daily Care, Livestock Nutrition, Biosecurity at a Livestock show: How to keep you and your animals healthy, Swine and Sheep Daily Care, and Goat Showmanship and Daily Care.

To take part in the online instructional exhibitors must pre-register to get the link. Meetings will take place on Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

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