Wednesday, June 19, 2013

4-H Pen Project

We have been preparing our 2013 4-H projects since last fall, and tonight was the "Evaluation Night" for JM's Advanced Cattle Feeders Pen Project.  This project consists of choosing 4 steers to feed out as a competition.  They have a points system which measures rate of gain (the pounds each calf gains each day), their feed conversion (the rate at which they turn the feed they eat into pounds of gain), how they grade at the packer, the amount of money that the pen of four makes, and they have a component in there for hedging (which includes feed products i.e. corn).  Each "pen" competes against the other "pens" to be the top performer.  Each pen is fed at their own farm using whatever feed products they wish to use.  We submit feed sheets showing the feed  ration and pounds of feed fed to the cattle twice a month.  The pen of four were first weighed in at the end of November.

These "little" guys weighed in at an average of 628 pounds in November.  JM's pen project had full run of one side of the barn plus an outside pen.  They were fed the same ration as our other feeder cattle.  The four cattle that were chosen for JM's project were all home raised calves.  Three of them were from our own cows, and one came from a neighbor's cow.

Each 4-H member had the opportunity to talk about how their cattle are fed and chose 2 cattle out of their pen of four that they think will yield the best at the packer.  It is always fun to see just how much these cattle grow and change during this project.

JM's cattle were weighed in tonight with an average weight of 1523 pounds each.  One of his calves even weighed 1625 pounds.  Incredible!!  They had an average rate of gain of 4.32 pounds per day.  JM will have to wait until next week to learn how they grade and yield at the packer to find out the overall outcome of his project.

This type of project teaches the kids about what goes into feeding cattle for a living.  They have to know about feed rations and ingredients as well as the cost of those products.  The kids learn about the cost of the cattle and what price they have to have back in order to make a profit on their project.  It also teaches them work ethic.  Those cattle rely on them every day to be fed and watered.  We had a great group of kids there tonight that should be very proud of their accomplishments.  The kids learn something every year with this type of project no matter which place your project falls in the ranking.