2017 Cleveland County Dairy Steer Project

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension
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We are now taking applications for our 2017 Cleveland County Dairy Steer Project.

Purpose:  Initiated in 2008, the Cleveland County Dairy Steer Project was designed to provide an opportunity for youth ages 7 to 18 to develop important life skills through their involvement in a long-term, hands-on livestock activity. These life skills include:

  • Responsibility
  • Decision-making
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Follow-through on commitment
  • Record-keeping
  • Communication
  • Sportsmanship

The project helps participants develop basic animal husbandry skills and a greater appreciation for  production agriculture. It also provides opportunities for parents, volunteer adult leaders, corporate sponsors, and the community to take an active role in the youth development process.
Project Overview:  Participants are responsible for bottle-raising a dairy bull calf from shortly after birth through weaning. Thereafter, they are responsible for feeding that calf to approximately 8 months of age (approximately 600 pounds), participating in workshops and clinics, exhibiting their animal at the Cleveland County Fair, and selling their calf.

Participants earn all monies received from the sale of their calves. Participants in both the Junior Division (ages 7 to 13) and the Senior Division (ages 14 to 18) will compete being ranked by a livestock judge on their accomplishments in the following two areas:

  1.  Steer growth & performance
  2. Fitting & showmanship skills

The Overall Grand Champion (1st place) and Reserve Champion (2nd Place) project animals from the Junior and Senior divisions will “sell” first at the support auction. The remainder will “sell” in alphabetical order or at Fair Livestock Manager’s discretion. This is a mock auction used for youth support only. All calves will be sold at stockyard or to singular high bid livestock buyer.

Facilities:  Participants must provide a suitable environment for raising their calf. An enclosed area is needed to keep the calf safe from predators and to prevent it from wandering into traffic. A fenced barnyard, lot or large dog kennel will suffice. Shelter  to protect the animal from wind and rain is also a must. If a barn or shed is not available, you can build a portable calf hutch (plans are included in your project packet). The Project Committee will conduct an on-site inspection of the proposed calf-raising facility prior to distributing calves to participants.

Commitment:  In order to keep dairy calves healthy and growing, they must be fed twice daily and observed daily for signs of illness. Housing and equipment must be kept clean and sanitary. Halter breaking a calf and teaching it to lead requires time and patience. Youth need adult supervision and encouragement, but will only learn life skills by doing this work  themselves. Youth must be able and willing to contribute significant amounts of time and attention to their animal. Also, this is a terminal livestock project (not a pet project) to teach participants about the commercial production of meat animals. All calves will be sold at the completion of the project. Youth likely to develop strong emotional attachments to their calves should probably not participate.

Support: Since the project requires a commitment of money and travel, youth participants will need the

support and assistance from a parent or other caring adult. Local farmers are supplying the calves at a         discounted cost, and the Project Committee is currently working to secure  corporate sponsors to keep project costs as low as possible, but participating families should be prepared to spend an estimated $400-$600 during the course of the project for feed, hay, and other essentials. They will also need to arrange for hauling of their calf to clinics and to the Cleveland County Fair. Youth may elect to  reimburse their family for a portion of these expenses from their prize winnings or sale proceeds.

The Cleveland County Dairy Steer Project Committee will castrate, de-horn, vaccinate, and de-worm calves as well as assist youth with feed/health management. The Cooperative Extension will coordinate workshops to aid youth in halter-breaking, fitting, and showing their steers. We will also make pre-scheduled on-site assessments, and should be contacted promptly in the event of animal health emergencies.

If you would like to participate in this project, please carefully read and complete the Project Application and MOU (Memorandum of Understanding.)

If you have any questions, you may call County Extension Director Greg Traywick @704-482-4365.