Need a little help from my friends 🤪

LearningSheep

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Good Morning you fine Flock!
This is going to take a minute - if you read it all, you are a SAINT!
So... two weeks ago, my daughter (14) decided she wants to show one of our lambs at one of the county fairs in Sept. I did not have my scrapie tags yet but now I do... that was an entire 💩show) but I did it in time for pre-weigh in. We have 25# to put on over 2 months, breaks down to .5/day - totally doable. (right now 100% grass fed but we added a creep feeder and extra hay)

Where I need help:
  • she isn't in 4H or FFA at the moment so please send me all the tips/tricks for training said sheep to be shown, as we are doing this independent.
  • What grooming things/procedures do we need to do? She will be showing the Dorper wether we got in May as it meets the age requirements.
  • What don't I know at this point, that I should?
There are SUCH worse things a 14yr could decide to do (and with having a multi-generational cattle family we are getting lots of grumbles, not a lot of help from the older types) so I'm fully supporting this....

TIA for the help!!! 🥰
 

BrahmerQueen

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Good Morning you fine Flock!
This is going to take a minute - if you read it all, you are a SAINT!
So... two weeks ago, my daughter (14) decided she wants to show one of our lambs at one of the county fairs in Sept. I did not have my scrapie tags yet but now I do... that was an entire 💩show) but I did it in time for pre-weigh in. We have 25# to put on over 2 months, breaks down to .5/day - totally doable. (right now 100% grass fed but we added a creep feeder and extra hay)
I have lambs gain .5/day but only by letting them eat as much a they want and it's a high high quality show feed, sounds like you are on the right track
Where I need help:
  • she isn't in 4H or FFA at the moment so please send me all the tips/tricks for training said sheep to be shown, as we are doing this independent.
First get the sheep comfortable on a halter, I do this by tying them to the fence and letting them get used to it, that's also a great time to like pet them and get them used to you, once they are comfortable then start working on leading and setting up/bracing
  • What grooming things/procedures do we need to do? She will be showing the Dorper wether we got in May as it meets the age requirements.
Typically dorper wethers are shown slick sheared but it should say in the rules for your show
  • What don't I know at this point, that I should?
There are SUCH worse things a 14yr could decide to do (and with having a multi-generational cattle family we are getting lots of grumbles, not a lot of help from the older types) so I'm fully supporting this....

TIA for the help!!! 🥰
 

LearningSheep

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First get the sheep comfortable on a halter, I do this by tying them to the fence and letting them get used to it, that's also a great time to like pet them and get them used to you, once they are comfortable then start working on leading and setting up/bracing
She has been walking the wether and the ewe that is in the pen with him on halters 2x a day and has started working on getting his head up. So good to know we are on the right track!
Typically dorper wethers are shown slick sheared but it should say in the rules for your show
It's a local county fair/jr livestock auction, I haven't seen much in the way of rules on their site, but I will call the fair office again and ask - the lady I spoke to got on the "lets get this kid showing train" when I explained so I am sure she will be helpful again ;)
Thanks for the insight @BrahmerQueen :)
 

BrahmerQueen

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She has been walking the wether and the ewe that is in the pen with him on halters 2x a day and has started working on getting his head up. So good to know we are on the right track!
Awesome!
It's a local county fair/jr livestock auction, I haven't seen much in the way of rules on their site, but I will call the fair office again and ask - the lady I spoke to got on the "lets get this kid showing train" when I explained so I am sure she will be helpful again ;)
That's great! Hopefully she will know
Thanks for the insight @BrahmerQueen :)
You're welcome
 

Margali

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I was in same boat a couple years ago with my 6year old. I do know that unless she joins 4H or FFA, she will be showing in Open division which is all ages. Junior division is restricted to 4H / FFA kids <18yrs old. Your daughter can probably join online and pay for late validation tag on wether (ours were $30). Then she can complete in Junior division. I would call and ask.
 

LearningSheep

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I was in same boat a couple years ago with my 6year old. I do know that unless she joins 4H or FFA, she will be showing in Open division which is all ages. Junior division is restricted to 4H / FFA kids <18yrs old. Your daughter can probably join online and pay for late validation tag on wether (ours were $30). Then she can complete in Junior division. I would call and ask.
FFA she will be able to join when school starts, as she will be a Freshman. When I talked to a friend in one of the local 4H clubs about her joining now I got a less than stellar response, sadly. @Margali I'd love to read the thread w/your daughters information, but couldn't find it earlier.

The fair office isn't answering the phone, so I left a message they probably took a long weekend for the holiday. It's all good though since my summer school teaching job is finished I can tackle it next week!
 

Margali

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You need to contact the Ag Extension agent for your county directly about 4H. Not all the clubs do animals and we ran into the same response. The Ag Extension agent is your main contact for signing up for fairs, etc. They should also be able to aim you at the sheep centric local club. Our Ag Extension agent Kirsten has been awesome with my newbie questions.

Links
Cassandra Pee-Wee Showmanship
2024 - 2025 Sheep Showing
 

Ridgetop

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Sorry in advance for this looong answer. Hoping to cover all answers for you:
It's a local county fair/jr livestock auction, I haven't seen much in the way of rules on their site, but I will call the fair office again and ask - the lady I spoke to got on the "lets get this kid showing train" when I explained so I am sure she will be helpful again
While "let's get this child showing" may be laudable, if the person you talk to (the receptionist?) does not know the County and State Rules, your child may have a problem entering and showing. Since she is not in a 4-H or FFA program where her project leader/teacher would know the rules and could advise you, it will be YOUR responsibility to get a copy of the rules (County AND State) and read them.

California State Rules: State Fair Rules supersede the County Fair rules. Go online here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/FairsAndExpositions/exhibit_and_livestock.html
Go online to that address and print out a copy of "State Fair Rules 2024". They have the printable format online. There are several addendums which you will want to check to see if they pertain to your child and her project.

County Fair Rules: Do you have the Exhibit Entry Guide for the local Fair? The local rules for the show should be printed in the book. If not, go online, put in the County Fair name and fin the rules for that Fair. Print those out. Some small Fairs avoid extra printing costs by telling you to refer to the "Local Rules available at the Fair Office". You will have to get a printed copy from the Fair Office. If yoi break one of the rules, the Fair will not back you up - they will say you should have obtained a copy yourself. (This happened to someone at our Local Fair and the child was DQed because the parent didn't read the rules. She said "it was too much trouble to go get a copy".) Make sure you know the rules for entering and exhibiting in the Youth fair and auction. Having your child disqualified because you didn't know the rules and relied on hearsay is heartbreaking for the child, aggravating for you, and annoying to other exhibitors. Your entry fee will not be refunded, and the child will miss the opportunity to auction.

When I talked to a friend in one of the local 4H clubs about her joining now I got a less than stellar response, sadly.
4-H and FFA: There are specific deadlines within which you have to enroll in a 4-H club for the year (these are not arbitrary local club rules, the clubs are overseen by the National and State 4-H organizations. The 4-H program is run through the County Extension offices, the leaders must conform to the rules about enrollment. These rules are a pain sometimes. Within the FFA and 4-H programs there are deadlines within which you must enroll in the specific project. Unless you enroll in the specific livestock project within those dates, your child can't show a market animal even if they are enrolled in the club. FFA have their own specific rules. You need to read and be aware of the rules for both State and the local Fair in case of challenges by other exhibitors, or the Fair personnel.

I was our club's livestock leader for years in a Southern California 4-H club, and my children exhibited one of every species in our local Fair for years. They also showed breeding animals in other Fairs as well. After several experiences I printed out copies of the State Rules and local rules every year and carried a current copy with me. They came in handy if there were questions about eligibility, etc. We were members of the Fair Youth Auction Committee as well. Hopefully what I learned from those experiences will be helpful, although some of the rules may have changed:

Because your daughter is not a member of a recognized youth organization she will be showing her market lamb as an Independent Exhibitor. Independent Exhibitors have rules that are set out in the State Rules which may be different from FFA and 4-H Rules or local rules. The strictest rules (usually the State Rules) will govern. The required ownership of market animals depends on species. Lambs, goats, and hogs must be owned by the child 60 days prior to Fair date. Beef is 180 days. Small livestock have other ownership/breeding restrictions. You must show the sales slip at time of weigh in because the Fair will check purchase dates to make sure that you are in compliance with the rules.

Since you had to get your own personal scrapie tags, I assume that you bred this lamb yourself. Otherwise, a purchased lamb is required to have the breeder's scrapie tag when you purchased it. Next you said that you were able to enter within the deadline and have satisfied the required pre-weigh in, DNA test (if required), and Fair auction tag which is put in by the Fair personnel. So far, so good.

Feeding: The weight gain you have to put on the lamb is 25 lb. in 62 days. Is this the minimum to make weight for the class? Or is this what you want to put on the lamb to give it the best chance at winning? If this is the minimum weight that must be put on to make weight for the class, you will have to push the lamb to gain. Gaining 1/2 lb. per day is normal for market lambs. Some gain more, some less, but by carefully adjusting the concentrate and hay, 1/2 lb. is normal. You have 62 days so you can conceivably see a gain of 31 lbs. Do you have access to a scale to weigh the lamb every week to keep track of how much the lamb gains every week? If not, can you find someone who has a scale? This will be the best way to make sure the lamb is gaining enough.

Free feeding hay (even alfalfa) at this point is not the best way to put on the necessary weight over the next 2 months. You want to slowly decrease the hay/grass about 3-4 weeks before the show and increase the concentrated feed or pellet to avoid having a "hay belly" on your show lamb. The large rumen of a healthy grass/hay fed sheep is not the show ring look. For the last month before the show you just want to feed enough hay to keep the rumen healthy. Check for a good show lamb feed. You need a lamb feed mixed to encourage weight gain, not just growth. You want a medium/high protein percentage, and high fat. You can adjust the gain higher by adding corn to the pelleted concentrate or slow the gain by adding oats. A higher protein level does not put on weight for older market lambs approaching Fair, it is for encouraging growth in younger lambs. Any weight loss (holding) cannot be done just before the show since a good livestock judge will be able to tell an animal that has been "held" by its appearance and feel. If you have to "hold" weight (more common in hogs) you need to slow the weight gain early on so you can have the animal resume gaining up to Fair check in. You want the lamb gaining all the way up to Fair.
*By the way, some feed manufacturers offer a prize or bonus to exhibitors that feed their brand to auction animals. Check on this, obtain the paperwork, and apply for it with the manufacturer before the Fair. Keep all feed receipts since they will require them.

IMPORTANT: Worm the lamb now to make sure it does not have a parasite load that will slow down the rate of gain. Check the wormer for withdrawal times for slaughter animals. You need to make sure any withdrawal time is over before the Fair. This withdrawal period applies to any medicated feed you are feeding, vaccinations given, or antibiotics the lamb may need. Always check the labels on feed for Fair auction animals to make sure they do not contain an ingredient that has a withdrawal time.

Training for the show ring: Your daughter already has halter trained the lamb which is excellent, BUT market lambs are not shown on halter. They are shown by leading the lamb by its head around the ring. She will have to hold the lamb steady by the head with one hand while stacking it with the other. She should practice this. Purina made an excellent showmanship video on livestock handling for shows. There are several online U-Tube videos teaching how to show sheep. Since your daughter is not in an organization with a leader that will help her, watch these and try to copy them. If you have friends with kids in 4-H or FFA you might ask if their leader would work with your daughter or let her join their showmanship classes. When my kids started showing their first lambs, leaders from other clubs helped us and taught them how to do it. The lamb must always be between the judge and exhibitor - this can be tricky so have her practice changing sides and positions with the lamb. (In showmanship classes (where the child is judged on how well they exhibit the animal) I have seen the judge deliberately change position many times just to see if the kids can keep changing sides.)

Shearing: All market lambs must be slick shorn. some breeds leave the hair below the knees and fluff it out to give the appearance of heavier bone. Since your daughter has a Dorper, this is not an option since Dorpers don't have leg hair. The lamb needs to be slick shorn about 1day to a week before the show. After shearing make sure that the lamb has shade since slick shorn lambs can get sunburn. You can also buy "lamb tubes" - stretchy one-piece coats that will cover the lamb's body. I recommend these since they will also keep your freshly washed lamb clean if your fair does not have washing facilities to wash your lamb before the actual show. If you can't shear the lamb, or don't have the equipment, check to see if you can hire someone to shear for you. Often an older, experienced 4-H kid will be willing to do it for you, particularly one who has graduated from 4-H or FFA and needs college money. Again, check with friends to find someone experienced since a good slick shear can be difficult and you don't want to nick the lamb. If you do it yourself, give yourself plenty of time to go over the shear several times to get it perfectly smooth. Washing the lamb with a good grease cutting dish soap and shearing the lamb when it is damp works best. A drop of laundry bluing in the rinse water can brighten the color - JUST A DROP though, too much and you will have a blue lamb. (Ask DS1 how we know this. :lol:)

The livestock barn will be a place where your child will make lifelong friends and your whole family will have more fun than you can imagine!
 
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