By Nicole King
4-H is an organization founded in 1902 for the youth to reach their fullest potential. Youth accomplish this by following the 4-H motto, to make the best better. It has nearly six million participants around the world. Due to the help of the United States Department of Agriculture, it allows young adults ranging from ages 5-18 to pursue their liking in such projects as animals, crafts, photography, cooking, and many more.
I, Nicole King, am active member in the Howard County 4-H Dairy Club. With the help of my family friends, I started carrying the breeding goat project when I was six years old. It started off when I bred my goat, Peanut, and now I bred two does, mother goats, a year. I reside at Froggy Hollow farm where I am planning on having four baby goats, also known as kids, born this month. Right before they are born, we put the the does in kidding pens with plenty of straw, grain, and water. Normally, they will have two twin babies after completing the 150 gestation period. We normally wait three weeks until castrating the babies and letting them roam outside with their mothers. Starting in a couple weeks after birth, I will practice walking them to prepare them for the pygmy goat show at the Howard County Fair.
Colby Hough, a Sophomore, is the next generation in his family to inherit Woodcamp Farm. He is a lively member of the Howard County 4-H Beef Club where he carries the project of breeding and market lambs. This year, he had six lambs born on his farm. Three of these were wethers; male castrated lambs. The other three were ewe lambs; young females. He bred their three ewes in August of 2016 and anxiously awaited the 152 days for the babies to be born. Fortunately, they had three sets of twin lambs born to each ewe which is normal for ewes to produce. When the lambs were first born, Colby had to keep them under a heat lamp for the first three weeks of their lives to help them maintain a good body temperature of 102°-103° Fahrenheit. After these weeks, they were able to step outside the barn and get some fresh air with their moms. Colby plans to start halter breaking them so they are able to be shown in the show ring at the Howard County Fair.
Makenzie Hereth, a Freshman, is a vigorous member in the Howard County 4-H Dairy Club. In this club, she carries the project of breeding and market hogs. At her farm this year, Idiot's Delight, they are anticipating ten litters of piglets to be born. Normally, each litter contains approximately 10-15 piglets. Their family is known for breeding Hereford, Berkshire, and Yorkshire sows, mother hogs. When the sows give birth, it is referred to as “farrowing”. When these piglets are first born, they must be given a series of shots such as vaccines against a circovirus, pneumonia, and iron deficiency issues. The piglets must also live their first three weeks under a heat lamp to remain between 101.6°-104 Fahrenheit. After those three weeks, they will stay in the temperature controlled barn until they are strong enough to go outside. Makenzie plans to raise these hogs for market and sell at the 2017 Howard County 4-H Livestock Sale.
Mitchell Feaga, a Junior, is a remarkable member of the Howard County 4-H Bullseye Club. In this club, he holds the dairy heifer project. A dairy heifer is a female cow that has not given birth to a calf yet. When the cows are bred, they have approximately nine months until giving birth to a heifer or bull calf. This year, Mitchell’s cows gave birth to two bulls and two heifers. Two hours after being born, the owner must separate the calves from their mother to prevent the mother from accidentally stepping onto the calves. For the first three weeks of their lives, they must be bottle fed twice a day. It's also critical to milk the mother cow to prevent the milk from building up in her udders. If this occurs, it is called Mastitis which requires antibiotics to help treat. Mitchell plans to continue growing his dairy herd to provide wholesome dairy products for our growing world.
With many possibilities open in 4-H, it is a great way to get yourself a name. There are many clubs that people can join depending on your interests. Once you find the club for you, stick with it and it will lead you to amazing opportunities. Such opportunities will help advance you when applying to college and finding the career for you!