In the animal projects, members:
- Acquire an understanding of livestock production and management practices.
- Learn to identify breeds and select quality animals.
- Learn to make good management decisions related to feed, care, health, and equipment.
- Gain an appreciation of marketing.
The members do this by caring for one or more animals for a set amount of time that varies with the animal. The member assumes responsibility for all aspects of their animal’s management.
Members care for one or more beef-type heifers, cows, or steers. A young member may begin with a Heifer or Fed Steer project. Older members are encouraged to take the Market Steer project. An experienced member may wish to raise one or more cows with calves or raise a number of steers to market weight. The member learns grooming and training and usually shows the animal at the end of the project.
Members learn about inheritance factors in dairy cattle, how milk is produced, fitting and showing and marketing dairy products. Training includes selecting dairy cattle; care of young calves; equipment for feeding and care of cattle; treatment of common diseases, ailments and insect pests; keeping records; and fitting and showmanship techniques. A young or inexperienced member should begin by raising a heifer calf.
In succeeding years they may continue to raise this calf as a yearling or two-year old project as well as starting with a new calf each year. In this way, a senior member eventually has animals for a Dairy Herd project.
Members care for and train their dog. The objectives of the project are for members to:
- Acquire knowledge concerning the responsibilities of dog owner-ship.
- Learn basic dog care and management practices including feeding, care, handling, grooming, and fitting.
- Train the dog to obey and heel, establish basic obedience commands and thus become a more enjoyable member of the family.
When a member has learned to train a dog in basic obedience, they may take such projects as “Raising a Dog,” “Dog and Litter,” “Retriever and Hunter, or “Stock Dog.” The dog project provides the opportunity for urban boys and girls to have a live animal.
4-H members learn about bees by owning and caring for a hive of bees. They study the social life of bees, the honey producing plants in their area, and how bees pollinate crops and increase the yield of many fruit and seed crops. Members also learn how honey is produced and marketed. First year members may manage one hive of bees and exhibit several jars of honey. More experienced members could manage numerous hives and study pollination of crops.
Members must personally feed and care for a saddle horse or pony of a size and type suited to their capability. The horse units are progressive, with members learning new riding skills as they successfully complete units. When a member has gained experience with a light horse or pony in showing at halter and in riding performance, they may wish to raise a yearling or two- year-old horse or a brood mare and foal.
Members are encouraged to plan trail rides as a group and to learn safety when working with their horse. The first unit is geared to members who do not yet own their own horse.
Members in the Llama Project learn about the care and feeding of Llamas, the proper equipment for grooming, types of Llamas, how to train to complete specific maneuvers around an obstacle course, as well as showmanship. The Llama project has many different avenues members can take. Beginner Llama members learn how to halter, lead, show, and maneuver around obstacles. They will also have to have basic understanding of Llama husbandry.
Other projects that Llama members can undertake are Public relations with Llamas, Packing, Driving, Llama Fiber as well as Llama Breeding.
In the Poultry project, members may raise chickens for egg and meat production; or they may raise ducks, geese or turkeys for meat or as breeding stock. Members may also take such projects as game bird raising or developing a waterfowl refuge. The purpose of this project is to give members an opportunity to learn basic principles of poultry raising, breeding, health and management.
A member may raise a market lamb or a breeding ewe lamb. As a member gains experience, they may wish to establish a small flock, raising a number of ewes for breeding. They may also raise six or more feeder lambs for market. Sheep are excellent for younger boys and girls because they are easy to handle and cost less than larger animals.
Members care for one or more feeder hogs for market, a breeding gilt, or a brood sow. More experienced members can establish a breeding herd, raising three or more sows with litters. They can also take a feeder hog project where they raise and sell at least six hogs.