It has been just over a week after our NETLA Junior Livestock Show is over and by now the final add on support is getting in and our totals getting computed. Just as we recap some of the experiences gained in putting a show as this together I was asked to explain to new families the reasons to get involved raising and showing projects. I can hardly start describing the experience without recalling my own experience growing up selling bulls in livestock shows and fairs. It was “what my family did” and an integral part of my growing up and the well-being of my family’s ranch economy. Many times, it was also our chore and responsibility and it was not way around it. I remember working with my grad father, dad and uncles sorting stock and haltering bulls. It was back then, a complete summer long process, and we loved it. Raising and showing livestock brings families together. Youth are required to ask for help and experience to complete the goal. There is no telling how many parents and grandparents are helping youth during the process. For many, just like in my case, is a family effort. It does take time and money to complete a project and show it, but the bond between the families during the process gets tight regardless of the outcome. I know many exhibitors did not make it to the sale of champions this year. For those who did, kudos. For those who did not, get ready for another opportunity next year. Many good projects this year did not make it to the sale. This does not necessarily mean those were bad projects, or the exhibitors did something wrong but competition is tough. Life is tough. You do not get compensated getting in last, regardless of the reason why. Just as we are getting ready for another year, it is important for the new families raising livestock projects to be aware of the significant time and money commitment needed to complete a project. All projects have their own challenges and complexities. For those new exhibitors, make sure you get familiar with raising livestock projects for show BEFORE jumping in. There is nothing more frustrating for youth and parents when things do not turn out as expected. It is important that families seek advice from Ag Teachers, our office or other exhibitors. Ask as many questions as possible.
Do it for the right reasons
Before starting a livestock project, every family must determine the goals and objectives to be accomplished during the developing of the project. Livestock projects are an important teaching tool for youth to develop as individuals in our society. IF family interaction and support is important, make sure everybody in the family knows it. Another important component is the Return of Investment (ROI) during the project. ROI metric is to measure, per period, rates of return on money invested in an economic entity in order to decide whether or not to undertake an investment (Wikipedia). To use as an example, steer projects are a major financial and time investment. The initial cost of a club steer (an animal with those characteristics needed to place in a competitive junior livestock show) could reach more than $2,500 each. If you add the cost of feeding (depending on the days in feed) up to $2,000, validation and veterinary bills and other expenses, the overall cost of finishing a steer could reach $5,000 by the time the steer is in the show. IF the steer weights 1,000 Lb by the time of the show and brings $4.50 a pound during the NETLA Sale of Champions you can easily calculate the economic return of investment. If economic return is an important goal and indicator of success during the development of the project, you must be aware of the cost variables that can tip the ROI in a negative value. All livestock projects can be analyzed financially and ROI comparison computed. Seek advice from Ag Teachers, The Hopkins County Extension Office, former exhibitors or NETLA mentors about raising livestock projects for livestock shows and get fully familiar with the process to avoid disappointments after the livestock showing season.