Would Your Child Like to Raise a Calf? 2021 Dairy Steer Project

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Yes, it is possible for any family in Catawba County and surrounding counties.

Girl with calf

Youth Livestock Animal Project Offered – Youth ages 8 and older are invited to participate in the 4-H Dairy Calf Steer Project, which is a youth livestock project in Catawba County. Meetings, training, decisions, and commitments will be started in January, the calf will be picked up by February 1, 2021, and cared for until Labor day weekend when it will be sold. Families, in Catawba and all surrounding counties, who are interested in enrolling in the project should call (828-465-8240) to get information allowing attendance either by computer (Zoom) or physically attending the Informational meeting on Monday, January 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Agricultural Resources Center in Newton. (1175 South Brady Ave., Newton, NC). Register online for the informational meeting. A recording will be available for anyone not making the meeting Monday evening. All plans for training, meetings, and shows require NC 4-H / N.C Cooperative Extension meeting guidelines. Therefore, due to changing rules about COVID-19, flexibility and patience in plans changing in midstream need to be expected.

At the January 4 meeting, families will learn about what type of space is needed for the project, some basics about caring for the calf, expected costs, show premiums, and a project timeline. 4-H’ers who have previously participated in the project will share their experiences at the meeting. Project registrations will be accepted until January 15. Families who register to participate must attend required training on January 18 at 6:30 p.m. to receive detailed instructions about caring for and feeding their calf and preparing an area to house the calf. Some starter feed and supplies will be provided. A veterinarian and a team of experienced 4-H livestock club folks will be on call to provide assistance and answer questions through the project duration. Plans for participants, at this time, to receive/buy a dairy steer calf will occur in the last week of January.

The week-old dairy steer calf will be coming from a large dairy farm in Iredell County. Youth will need to care for the calf daily, working with the calf so it is ready to be shown at a minimum of two local youth livestock shows. These calves are typically 50-75 pounds. They will grow to weigh as much as 600 pounds at showtime. The project will conclude with a dairy steer show to be held as part of the Catawba County Fair in late August/early September 2021. The dairy steers will be sold following the fair showing with proceeds going to the participant. Each calf owner will also need to record their experiences in a 4-H Project Book that will be submitted for judging and awards. By participating in the project, the youth will learn about animal science and veterinary care for large animals and record keeping while developing a sense of responsibility and accomplishment since routine chores must be done by the participant, precisely and timely, until selling the calf at the county fair.

It is not necessary to be a current 4-H member to participate in this project but youth will need to enroll in 4HOnline as part of project participation. All interested families are encouraged to Zoom or come and learn about the project. Youth participating in the project are encouraged to also attend the county 4-H livestock club. The club is for youth ages 5 and older. At the club meetings and activities, club members learn about agriculture production and animal science. They also develop leadership and life skills through 4-H experiences and project animal activities. For more information about the Dairy Steer Project or Livestock Club, contact Donna Mull, 4-H Agent, or Glenn Detweiler, Livestock Agent, with the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Catawba County at 828-465-8240.