4-H’ers prepare budgets for animal projects

Figuring out how much it will cost to raise a 4-H animal can be bewildering; a new budget form can help families predict the expense before they make the commitment.

Deciding to raise a 4-H animal project is exciting! But estimating how much it will cost can be bewildering if you are new to the 4-H program. A new simulation from Michigan 4-H can help youth and their parents determine a realistic budget for the 4-H project.

The animal version of “Spartan Dollar$ and ₵ents” takes participants through the process of calculating what it would cost to raise three hogs and show them at the local fair. With a little homework, the same process can be used to estimate the cost to raise other animals from rabbits to goats to alpacas.

The simulation will be just one of many engaging activities offered at 4-H Exploration Days on the campus of Michigan State University, June 19-21, 2013. For more information or to register for the event, check out the 4-H Exploration Days link on the Michigan 4-H website.

The simulation activity is especially valuable for families who are inexperienced calculating the cost of raising an animal. First, it identifies the numerous financial aspects a new animal owner should consider such as bedding and transportation costs. Second, it provides a range of choices that help estimate what raising an animal could cost; participants begin by choosing from three levels of quality breeding stock and the associated cost. Third, parents especially appreciate the opportunity to review and discuss the options with their child prior to making the commitment.

The budgeting activity is full of realistic choices: When I compare prices, do I want to feed my hogs standard pre-mixed feed or premium quality show feed? And how much am I willing to spend on show clothes? Do I want to borrow, buy used or buy brand new?

The activity is also a good lesson in “opportunity costs” as participants have only a certain amount of money to spend – to spend generously on one item means skimping on other purchases. The simulation serves as an excellent tool to help youth determine their priorities.

For more information about the animal version of Spartan Dollars and ₵ents, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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