Sheep and Goats
One of the fastest growing 4-H programs is the Goat Project. This project area gives a youth the option to choose from dairy goat breeds or meat goat breeds. Goats are fun because they all have different personalities and different little habits that can be amusing or interesting. Goats are very affectionate and do not require a lot of space to raise them.
Worldwide, more people drink the milk of goats than the milk of any other single species. The contribution of dairy goats to the nutritional and economic well-being of mankind, especially in developing countries, is invaluable. Goats were among the first animals domesticated by man. Some of the meat goat breeds include the Pygmy goats and the Boer goats.
Youth have the opportunity to show their goats at various 4-H fairs throughout Massachusetts. In September, the Big E 4-H Goat Show is held at the Eastern States Exposition. This show gives youth the opportunity to meet and compete with youth from throughout the New England states. All goats exhibited in 4-H shows must be owned, registered and cared for by the exhibitor by June 1st of the current year.
For further information on joining a goat club, please see below for staff contact information.
The purpose of the 4-H Sheep project is to stimulate interest and a sense of responsibility in youth. There are numerous options available to youth just beginning in this project area. The Market Lamb Project gives a youth an opportunity to receive a lamb through a special scholarship sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Sheep Breeders Association (PVSBA). Once a youth completes a Market Lamb Project, he or she can apply the following year for the Purebred Ewe Lamb Scholarship, which is also made available through the PVSBA.
4-H sheep shows have classes in fitting and showmanship, market lamb classes, as well as breed type competition. The purpose of the 4-H sheep show is to give the members a chance to compete with their sheep and to show how much they have learned over the course of the year. All sheep exhibited in 4-H shows must be owned, registered and cared for by the exhibitor by June 1st of the current year.
For the youth who enjoy participating in team competitions, there is Sheep Quiz Bowl, which tests youth on their general knowledge of the sheep industry. Livestock judging tests the youths' skills on knowledge of conformation of various livestock (sheep, swine and beef cattle). 4-H livestock judging contests are held at the Eastern States Exposition and the national 4-H contest is held in Louisville, Kentucky.
Goat and Sheep Resources:
The Livestock Verification Form for Sheep, Goats and Alpacas must be filed with your local 4-H office by June 1. Youth attending the Big E 4-H Goat Show must have 2 years of goat project experience and be 12 years of age as of January 1st of the current year.
For further information, please contact:
State 4-H Animal Specialist
University of Massachusetts Amherst
100 Venture Way, Suite 334
Hadley, MA 01035-9462