Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023|
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Late Friday afternoon at the annual 4-H Livestock Show and Sale, judges gathered the 40 young participants at the show ring of Mealani Research Station in Waimea to offer some advice on how to show an animal.
Hogs weren’t “she” or “him.” They were sows or barrows. Know if your sheep is a wether (or not). And make sure you don’t refer to your cow as a “breeding steer.”
The show and sale continues today, with market lambs, hogs, steers and heifers in the ring. A livestock auction begins at 2 p.m.
“The whole idea is to teach kids to be responsible,” co-organizer Patti Andrade said Friday. The 4-H program is for kids ages 9-18. Three Clover Buds participants, who are younger than 9, also were on hand Friday to show rabbits and chickens.
The older kids show goats, hogs, lambs and cattle. But though the animals have names, they’re not pets. Most are meat animals, judged according to musculature and sold per pound at auction. Some are breeding animals, such as the goat does Diana and Artemis.
“Each project is their own individual business,” Andrade said.
The kids invite prospective buyers to the auction, and keep the money they earn from the sales. Cultivating ties to agriculture is important, Andrade said. She did 4-H while growing up, and wore a tiny gold pin on her shirt indicating she’d been with the program for 10 years.
“If you’re going to eat meat, you should know where your food is coming from,” she said.
Exhibitors are responsible for every aspect of their animal’s care, from feeding to providing shelter. It’s all documented in green 4-H notebooks, which are presented to judges before the show.
One notebook described a hog’s diet of Purina chow and cracked corn. In another section of the same book, the owner wrote a reminder: “I need to pay my papa back.”
“The most important thing is to take her out of the pen and give her exercise,” Kayla Gomes, 7, said of her half Checker Giant, half Flemish rabbit named Boxer. But if Boxer couldn’t leave the pen, Gomes said, she would put extra grass in to make it feel more like outside.
In one of the hog pens, Kaleo Valenzuela, 12, used an electric razor to shave long hairs off of Studd, a Yorkshire pig weighing 260 pounds. Studd didn’t move.
“They mind,” Valenzuela’s father, Brendan Valenzuela, said. “But right now, he’s lazy.”
Brendan Valenzuela participated in 4-H for nine years when he was younger, and raised “everything.”
“Everyone will say the hogs are easiest to raise,” he said. “With the lambs and steers, you have to halter-break them.”
The Valenzuelas made the trip from Kona. Exhibitors came from around the Island, from Volcano to Waimea.
The overall aim of 4-H is to help kids grow as a whole person, Andrade explained. The four Hs in question are head, heart, hands and health.
On Friday, before the real shows began, the kids ran through a practice round and judged their own animals.
“We are guiding them, but they manage it all,” Andrade said.
Email Ivy Ashe at email@example.com.
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