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4-H members weigh market animals, continue projects

News from Montana State University Lake County Extension 

RONAN – Eight a.m. on April 21 saw the first 4-H families maneuvering their pickups and trailers into line at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Ronan to weigh their lambs and piglets. From 9 to 11 a.m., 13 lambs baaed and 56 piglets squealed as they crossed the scales, aided by Jodi Bergh, Dusty Smith, Shawn Andres, Reese McAlpin and Travis Jeppesen, all members of the Lake County Market Livestock Committee.

“We like to see lambs and pigs weigh between 45 to 50 pounds at spring weigh-in. Some have done well (in the show ring) being lighter, and some have done well being a little heavier. But a good starting point is a 50-pound healthy animal,” said Jack Stivers, Montana State University Extension Agricultural Agent for Lake County.

The lambs averaged 68 pounds, and the pigs averaged 77 pounds so they exceeded Stivers’ expectations. Earlier in the year, on Jan. 13, 4-Hers who are enrolled in market beef projects brought their steers to the FFA Stockyards to get their beginning weight. The standard steers averaged 810 pounds and small steers 425 pounds.

From April 21 to July 24 is 94 days, giving kids about three months to fine tune their feeding and exercise program so their hogs, lambs and steers gain as much lean muscle weight as possible before the Lake County Fair. 

Kids with livestock animals aren’t the only 4-Hers working on projects, though. The 4-H year begins on Oct. 1, and all winter 4-H members have worked on aerospace, sewing, leathercraft, art, cooking, shooting sports, rabbit, woodworking, cake decorating – basically any project a child wants to pursue. Montana 4-H boasts more than 54 project categories, such as horse, where a kid can take working ranch horse, packing, driving, colt-to-maturity and other projects after completing horsemanship levels 1-3. Then there are always independent study projects, and projects unique to each county. Go to montana4-h.org/projects to see a project category listing or call the Montana State University Extension Office at 676-4271.

Regardless of what projects 4-Hers pursue, they work hard and learn responsibility whether they are feeding their chickens, preparing a shooting sports poster or putting the finishing stitches in a garment. The Lake County Fair is coming up July 23-28; and although 4-Hers aren’t required to exhibit their projects, many do to see how their rocket or pig stack up against other Lake County 4-Hers.

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