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4-H/FFA Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest

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September 19, 2019

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

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about the 4H 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 4H Livestock Specialist. Dean, 4H and FFA livestock shows are well attended and supported by local communities and elected officials. Tell me about the importance of youth livestock projects.

Dean Jousan: We have lots of opportunities for our young people to be involved with local officials at their county shows and a lot of our officials come out and are very supportive at our state shows, including Dixie National and our Sale of Junior Champions, where this past year we had a record breaking sale. We have a big impact and a big imprint on people, but our livestock shows are not for everyone. Some young people want to be involved with beef projects, but the show ring may not be exactly what they're looking for.

Amy Myers: Well, it's great to hear about those successes. You mentioned there's a need to create a contest for youth who are interested in beef cattle production. Tell me more about that.

Dean Jousan: Yeah, so we're probably in about year 10 or 11 of our Replacement Heifer Development Contest, and what this is, this is an opportunity for young people to really learn about heifer development. They learn about the things that go into producing heifers that will be productive in their herd, that will return a good investment for them later on. This is a contest that we've had for a number of years now and we think it's important to continue it on going forward.

Amy Myers: It seems like this is 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: The contest starts on November the first of every year and runs through the end of July, and then the heifers are evaluated in early August. During the course of this 10 month project, youth really have to be careful in the selection of their heifers that they choose for the contest. They have to select three that they maintain. They have to make all the decisions from nutrition to health to reproduction. Everything that's involved in the development and the production of those heifers, those young people are involved with. Besides caring for their cattle and their heifers, they also need to be responsible for the land and the pasture that they raised them on. It really gets them to think about the whole picture of beef production and really trying to be efficient and effective in what they're doing while raising a quality animal.

Amy Myers: All right, so a contest must have a scoring system. Explain how the Heifer Development Contest is evaluated.

Dean Jousan: The heifers themselves, when we have our final contest weekend, the heifers themselves are 20% of the contest. They're important, but the lessons learned and the skills gained, that's the main emphasis of the contest. 30% the contest is a record book. During the course of the 10 month contest, youth are responsible for keeping their own sets of records on all of their expenses, their income. Everything that they do during the contest, they're supposed to document in a record book, which again is 30% of the contest. And then the remaining half of the scoring system is based on the presentation in the interview that the young person has with our panel of judges. This is an opportunity for the youth to explain the decisions that they made and then get some positive feedback, and that's the remaining half of the contest.

Amy Myers: Finally, it seems to be a worthwhile contest, but it is a time commitment. And 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: We try to make this a very appealing contest. And for every year up until this point, we've been able to award a livestock trailer for the first place winner. We've also had a consortium of producers donate a bull to winners. We have somebody who actually has it in their will to give $1,000 for this contest for as long as it continues. And then we've got a lot of other people that donate contributions, both small and large, that go to continue to fund the rest of the contest. And we also make it educational. Every youth gets a free trip to the Mississippi University Extension Beef Artificial Insemination School. We give prizes and awards that help them also be productive after the contest ends.

Amy Myers: If people want to learn more about the 4H FFA Replacement Beef Heifer Development Contest, where should they go?

Dean Jousan: To learn more about this contest, just go to your favorite search engine and type in Mississippi 4H Livestock Program, and there you'll be able to find information about this contest.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Dean Jousan, 4H Livestock Specialist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

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

Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development

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