You are here

4-H/FFA Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest

Filed Under:
November 15, 2018

Dean Jousan, Livestock Specialist


Speaker 1: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about the 4-H and FFA Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Dean Jousan, Mississippi State University Extension 4-H Livestock Specialist. Dean, 4-H and FFA livestock shows are well-attended and supported by local communities and elected officials across Mississippi. Tell us about the importance of youth livestock projects.

Dean Jousan: 4-H livestock shows are probably some of the most visible things that we do in 4-H and across Extension as a whole. There's a tremendous, tremendous amount of support for a lot of local fairs, and County shows that take place throughout the year. And then those shows build and develop to District shows and State shows, which are very well-supported by lots of different groups, from sponsorships to premium monies. So there's lots of generous people that really value the importance of the livestock shows. The Sale of Champions generates probably over $400,000 a year in support for Mississippi youth, but we felt about a decade ago that we really needed to reach out to another group of youth.

Amy Myers: You mentioned that there was a need to create a contest for youth who are interested in beef cattle production. Can you continue that?

Dean Jousan: Exhibitors and youth are looking for a particular type of cattle, and it may be very costly for them to be able to secure those animals, whereas those animals that are selected for the show ring may not be the best heifers to develop in a beef production system. So we were trying to develop a contest that was truly about raising quality heifers to go into a beef production system.

Amy Myers: So, that seems like a great opportunity for youth to become good stewards of the land and cattle. Talk to me about the design of the contest.

Dean Jousan: It's about the young people doing things with their property, with their land, with their cattle, using quality assurance practices, to really work on all aspects of management of the heifers. These young people have to pick out three heifers by November the first, and those heifers are either born in the spring of 2018 or the fall of 2017. And they have to manage everything about those heifers, from their pasture management, to their feed system, to their hay production, to their general herd health, their breeding decisions. Everything and everything that goes on to the development of those heifers, it takes a lot of thought and knowledge, and a lot of discovery, for the young people to figure out the proper way to develop heifers for their system.

Amy Myers: Explain how the Heifer Development Contest is evaluated.

Dean Jousan: So, our contest has three phases. The heifers themselves have to be a portion of the contest. The overall development of those heifers is 20% of the overall score. So part of the contest is, since these young people are managing the development of the heifers, they have to keep a record book based on their own design and their own choosing. But they have to keep up with what they do to the heifers, their cost, their inputs, all that type of information. So that record book is 30% of the contest. The final phase is an actual presentation and a question and answer session that the young people have at the conclusion of the contest with the judges. So this is really where the young people separate themself. So those young people that are able to talk about their management decisions, and be able to defend them and answer questions about why they did things the way they did, that's really what separates our winners.

Amy Myers: It seems to be a worthwhile contest. While prizes and awards are not the focus of the contest, what types of items have been given to winners in the past?

Dean Jousan: It takes these young people 10 months to compete in the contest. So we want our prizes to [inaudible 00:03:48] quality. Our first place prize for the last 10 years has been a livestock trailer, that's awarded to the young person at the State Fair. Then we've also had prizes as donated bulls that could be turned out for a production setting, or the young person could sell that bull to get the money from that. And then we also award some prize monies to some of the different winners. Every other person that goes through this contest also gets a free certificate to attend the Mississippi State Extension Beef Artificial Insemination School. So there's some education prizes as well that's included with our monetary prizes too.

Amy Myers: If we want to learn more about the 4-H and FFA Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest, where do we go?

Dean Jousan: Go to Click the link for 4-H Livestock Program, and then Youth Livestock. And under related materials you'll see a link to the Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Dean Jousan, Livestock Specialist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Speaker 1: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development

Select Your County Office