4H Experience

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by bare, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    May 9, 2002
    Whoa! I was a lot surprised to hear this about 4H, that I have quoted below from another thread, by Cyndi.

    I have to say that it is as far away from our experiences here in our district as could be possible. Our 4H program is very much community sponsored, lead by dedicated people, with real concerns for children and a commitment to raising livestock healthily and humanely.

    What are your experences with 4H? Any other horror stories out there?

    Muller's Lane Farm
    NW IL
    Zone 5A
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    4-H is supposed to teach kids how to raise the stock. They use modern, commercial methods in their manuals. The goal is to raise the stock, not to avoid anti-biotics, use natural methods, or putting a high priority on humane treatment. I don't think there's anything wrong with that....it's just a different focus.

    I do agree that there is lots of questionable things that go on....parents raising the animals, parents paying a ton of money for show stock, etc.

    In hogs, they are looking for long, lean with huge butts. A lot of that is in the genetics of the hogs. If you start with non-show quality stock, they won't turn into it, regardless of what you feed them. I also think that a naturally raised animal will have a hard time competing with one raised using commercial methods. Commercial methods emphasize growth and gain and they do it pretty well. Natural methods emphasize health and humanity. That works pretty well also, but when it comes to the show ring....growth and gain is what counts.

    I really don't think that show stock belongs in 4-H, but that is how it is. If you want to WIN (and most PARENTS want to win), then you need to invest in quality genetics to get there.

    This is NOT how I think it should be. I think a kid ought to be able to go out, pick an animal from a pen, care for it and have a chance of winning. It simply doesn't work that way.


  3. greenacres

    greenacres Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    North Central Texas
    I was in 4-h, and it wasn't that long ago (about 6 years ago.) I enjoyed every minute of it. I wasn't popular either. There was the popular group that held all of the offices and what not. I didn't go to school with any of the members of my group. They went to Weatherford and I didn't. That probably made a difference too. I did have a wonderful goat leader and they made that fun. And there are a lot of parents that will pay big bucks for an animal because they want their child to win or will pay for someone to do grooming and what not. I was also a member of FFA. When your children are in school, they can show under the FFA chapter of the school they are going to even though they are not in junior high or high school. There were a lot of politics in my 4-h group, but I suspect that is probably anywhere you go. You might check into the FFA groups. They might have a wonderful ag. teacher, so that might be the way to go. Good luck.
  4. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    We raised all of our 4H stock at a local commercial farm. The owner of the farm was our tutor and we met at his farm during our projects as a group for hands on training. They used this approach to better ensure the health and safety of the stock and to allow even apartment dwelling students to participate in the program. Commercial farms were also utilized in our FFA and ag classes also.
  5. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2002
    South Central Michigan
    4-H is like most anything........only as good as the people participating are willing to make it. It varies so from county to county......club to club. I have sold goats to youngsters from clubs in 10 counties and helped out at their goat shows. It is about teaching our young people how to raise good stock, how to recognize good stock and how to be a good citizen. 4-H pledge.....is a great one for anyone to follow.

    It is always unfortunate when "winning" becomes the key element in the equation, but parents can get beyond that with their children if they are involved with them and explain the differences in people and their "life views". Those differences are a part of being in this world, and 4-H is a good opportunity to help children through it.

    Good breeding and good animal husbandry are the key to success in farming or homesteading and it just makes sense to teach it early. Buying the best structural animal and raising it with the best available technic should be taught, IMO.
  6. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 16, 2003
    Western Washington
    When I was a kid, I was in 4H. Although I was in the program geared towards horses, hormanship, etc.. not the livestock end of it all. I remember though, that the groups in our community that raised pigs, steers, etc.. was encouraged to raise them naturally, and without any added anti-biotics, homones, or any of that other junk that is on the market.

    In fact, there was an incident where one of the members of my group had a brother that was raising a steer. Her parents wanted to take the steer off pasture a couple months before showing it, and suppliment his feed in a pen. They did however discuss it with the group leader, who didn't think that was wise, and they also discussed it with my dad up to get his opinion. (My dad is the one that got them interested in 4H and besides we were boarding his steer, and her horses) My dad told them that if they wanted to put the steer in a pen, first of all their board would go up for feed, second they weren't doing the steer any good because he was doing so well in the heard with our cattle, and third, he asked if they or their son was going to be out there every day to care for him (wash his water trough, clean his pen, etc.)

    Needless to say that steer stayed with the heard.. :haha: A couple months later he took that steer to the National Date Festival, a big event where I grew up, and did quite well.

    I guess I'm just saying that not all 4H groups are this way. The group leaders are responsible for guiding the kids. But unfortunatly, some parents get their own ideas. That's why the parents and leaders need to communicate, and work together.

    Just MHO :yeeha:
  7. RoyalOaksRanch

    RoyalOaksRanch Royal Oaks Taxidermy

    Nov 14, 2003
    I hate to say it but Parents are the ones who seem to set the tone for 4H groups. If you have a bunch of country parents who raise their beef,pigs, sheep etc without hormones, steriods or antibiotics, youll have a group of kids who will follow the same way. Im lucky that so far our 4H group is a good one. We all raise our critters. Matter of fact the kids must attend meetings with them. And in meat rabbits you have to own the parents in order to show the babies. (Had a little problem few years back where a commercial grower raised them and then had the kids pick out their bunnies right before fair..) You have to know about your animal, how to care and raise your animal. The cattle groups have weigh ins so youll know if your on schedule.. And there is a minimum and a max weight. Go to far over your DQ'ed, dont make weight your out too..
    Personally I like the small rural town 4H groups better than the larger town groups. Seems there is more interest in learning and testing your theories than in winning..
  8. tobo6

    tobo6 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2003
    I'm reading this thread with interest and really don't have any experience to tell you about since this is our first year in 4H. I have 2 kids in 4H and so far I haven't heard anything about having "show" quality animals or registered animals. There are weight guidelines of course but that is to be expected. All the kids in the group are using animals that came from their families animals. I have not heard of one person who has had to buy an animal. Animals are not taken to the meetings but are kept at home being taken care of by the 4H'er.

    So far I am extremely happy with how our group is run and the attitudes of the parents and how they feel the child should raise the animal. After bad little league seasons when I watched a lot of parents coaching from the sidelines I am glad to see that 4H believes in letting the children be responsible for themselves and their animals.

    I have to admit that I am curious to see how it goes at fair time when our group of country kids get together with more urban 4H groups.

  9. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2003
    I had a mostly positive experience for my first couple years in 4-H. Along with other projects, all four of us kids were in the pygmy goat group. My last year in 4H, we purchased a couple goats from the group leader's daughter. She thought they weren't good quality animals, and didn't want them. After a few months, they had grown nice and strong. At show time, we walked them a couple hours a day to train them, cleaned and clipped their hooves carefully, and actually took them into the shower to bathe them and trim their tail and ear hair.

    We had all four goats at the county fair, and we took first in every category that we showed in. My goat got Grand Champion. We won fair and square because of a little hard work to get the goats into blue ribbon shape. After those wins, it went downhill from their. The leader and her daughter started having meetings and they told everybody BUT us. They'd mark in the records that we weren't there, so we got royally screwed. We weren't allowed to go the next year because of our 'bad attendance.' We stopped 4H all together after that.

    I don't think the experience I had is representative of all though. My cousins went all the way through grade school in 4H. They loved it and still participate as judges/leaders as adults. I guess it's like anything else. There's always a rotten apple in the bunch.
  10. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

    Dec 9, 2002
    After being in 4H for fourteen years, youngest daughter just finished and son just going in I can say Yes bad things do happen BUT the program is only as good as your leaders. Strong moral leaders kids learn right, weak cheating leaders and the club goes down hill. If you pick a good club [ and most are] it can be hands down the best thing to happen to your kids. They will make life long friends who will be there for them. And the leadership skills cant be beat. There is so much more to 4h then animals and you dont even need to raise anything as there are alot of projects not centered on animals.