From the Field: County Farm Bureaus Support Youth Livestock Shows and Clubs

 From the Field is a bi-monthly column written by Mark Campbell, Farm Bureau Field Services Director for the Central District. He writes about Farm Bureau member benefits and County Farm Bureau activities.


Champion market lamb showed by my son, Daniel,
and judge Corey Childs.
Now that spring is finally here, several livestock shows are taking place across the state, and county Farm Bureaus are very supportive of the youth livestock exhibitors. 
How, you may ask?  County Farm Bureaus support the livestock shows and county fairs mostly in a financial manner, but many individual Farm Bureau members volunteer with the logistics.  County Farm Bureaus buy animals at the sale after the show, sponsor a buyers’ dinner, or make a contribution to the 4-H livestock club.  The contributions are often significant reaching several thousand dollars per year.
On May 3rd, the Central Virginia Livestock Show and Sale was held at the Lynchburg Livestock Market.  It was a regional show with the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell, and Nelson represented. 

The buyers’ dinner was sponsored by Campbell County Farm Bureau.  Campbell County Farm Bureau was also a significant buyer in the sale by purchasing several animals.  Bedford County Farm Bureau and Bedford Young Farmers were buyers as well.  Both of these county Farm Bureaus helped support the sale and offered a better price for the kids.  These two county Farm Bureau names were called by the auctioneer several times throughout the sale.  Their financial support was spread over many kids. 
At most sales like these, the county Farm Bureau purchases are as “support,” which means that they pay the difference between the final purchase price and the established floor price.  The animals purchased as “support” are then resold to a buyer or packer at market price.  There are other buyers at the sale too which include businesses and families.  A large portion of these purchases at the Central Virginia Livestock Show and Sale went for processing for people that wanted to fill their freezers with some high quality meat. 
Animals that are shown in breeding classes such as heifers, ewe lambs, gilts, and does are not sold and usually return back to the herd or flock back home at the family farm.  The Amherst and Nelson County Farm Bureaus make donations to the 4-H livestock club, and Appomattox donates to the FFA chapter which has its own small farm and a large number of exhibitors.  This kind of support is not isolated to central Virginia.  In fact, many county Farm Bureaus all over the state are supportive in similar fashion.
The county Farm Bureaus recognize the importance of supporting the next generation of agriculturalists and realize how vital they are to the future of the agriculture industry.  These livestock exhibitors are members of 4-H, FFA, or both.  They put in a lot of time and effort into preparing their animals for the shows which begins months prior.  Their livestock project teaches them about animal husbandry, nutrition, and business management. 
All of the exhibitors have to complete a record book, which is very detailed listing such things as cost of feed/head/day, feed labels, calculated average daily gain, and management activities.  The cost of inputs and price of the animal all add up, and getting a good price at the sale is essential in having a profitable project.  The kids are strongly encouraged to get buyer interest for their animals prior to the sale, and this helps with communication skills and builds confidence. 

Champion market goat shown by Phillip Saunders of
Nelson County with buyer W.P. Johnson of
Bedford County Farm Bureau
The Amherst/Nelson 4-H livestock club swept up by having grand champion steer, market lamb, market goat and market hog all from Nelson and Amherst counties. These lessons of animal care, business management, and leadership and communication skills learned by the youth livestock exhibitors are strong reasons that county Farm Bureaus are more than willing to support the livestock shows and sales.  Some shows taking place this month that I know about are in Blackstone and Fredericksburg.  Check with your county extension office to find out when the closest show is to you.  It is an enjoyable time to watch the next generation of agriculturalists and a good opportunity to support the youth. 
Until next time,
Mark

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