4-H Livestock Projects Have A Huge Economic Impact
Livestock Update, January 1997
Mark L. Wahlberg, Animal and Poultry Sciences
The livestock projects where members raise an animal and sell it for meat are very important youth development activities. 4-H'ers learn to make decisions, keep records, manage money, take responsibility for another living thing, budget time, and many other important characteristics.
The "Grand Finale" for most of these projects is exhibiting and selling their animals at the county fair, area livestock show, or State Fair. At these events members participate in friendly competition and are evaluated by an authority in the livestock industry. The market animals are sold at the conclusion of the event, providing an opportunity for the community to participate in the activity.
In Virginia there are 26 different events where members exhibit and sell market steers, market lambs, or market hogs. In 1996 there were 789 market hogs, 672 market steers, and 1327 market lambs sold at these fairs and shows for a grand total of $1,392,265.53. See the printed table in Livestock Update for details of these shows. Augusta County and Rockingham County were the two largest, with members selling 293 and 303 head respectively for $160,337.00 and $145,624.00.
Livestock exhibitors do not get rich with their market animal projects. They invest lots in the animals bought at the beginning of the project, and spend money weekly for feed and other items needed to keep the animal comfortable and well cared for. In addition, they invest many hours of their time in providing care for their project animals.
The livestock projects are very popular. They provide a great opportunity for learning many life skills. They also have a sizable economic impact, with sales of project animals in 1996 exceeding 1-1/3 million dollars.