4-H livestock record books facilitate life-long learning

Michigan State University Extension indicates that youth who complete livestock record books learn recordkeeping and entrepreneurial skills.

Project record books help youth integrate the life skill of recordkeeping into their Michigan 4-H livestock project. Life skills should be integrated into subject matter content; "not added-on." Make the record book part of the livestock project, not just an option.

Completing a livestock project record book is also the beginning of an entrepreneurial experience. Youth learn to track their monthly income and expenses (possibly create a budget) related to their animal project. In addition, the project record book helps youth to determine if they need to make improvements in their livestock project for the future. Youth also develop confidence in their ability to make good decisions related to their projects. Some record books encourage youth to set goals for their project and share those with others, giving youth a goal to work towards.

Youth need to think of record keeping as fun and interesting – not dull and boring. Good records will:

  • Help youth learn more about their animals, its growth rates, its feed requirements, the cost of feed and their animal’s habits
  • Help youth plan for the future
  • Let youth know if they made or lost money, and how much
  • Improve young peoples’ management practices
  • Give youth a record of their project activities and experience

Rutgers Cooperative Extension states, “The primary aim [of record books] is not for competitive purposes or to compare one member's record book to another's.” Record books should be used to teach youth about profit and loss, project management and their animals. Youth should view record books as a learning tool and not as a competition. Parents and volunteers should encourage youth to complete record books as part of the learning experience.

Recently, youth in Van Buren County took part in a livestock entrepreneurship program that required them to complete a record book. After the program, 100 percent of the youth who completed an evaluation stated that they now understood recordkeeping and documentation.

An example of a livestock project record book  can be found on the Michigan 4-H website.

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