Budgeting for your animal science project

It may be time to start thinking about your upcoming year’s animal science project and how you plan on paying for it. Use this simple plan to help you get a handle on what you can afford.

There is no doubt animals can be expensive. Purchasing an animal, feeding it, barn supplies such as buckets and feeders, show supplies, housing, veterinary care and all of the other costs that can crop up are all things that if you employ a budget, you can prepare for. Michigan State University Extension offers some tips for budgeting for your animal science project that will help you keep on track for success.

Set your purchase price budget for an animal and stick to it. Decide before you purchase how much you can afford and are willing to spend on a project animal. You should expect to spend a minimum amount depending on what species you intend to purchase. Large livestock can cost upwards of $200 or more per animal, while small animals such as rabbits or poultry may typically cost much less.

If you are attending an auction to purchase your animal, mentally prepare yourself for the psychology of an auction setting; the fast pace and adrenaline of an auction can cause you to stray away from what you have budgeted. Do not be afraid to let an animal go to another buyer if it is outside your budget. Many more animals are available for purchase that will fit your needs.

Use your previous records. If you have completed the project before, utilize records from the previous year to create a budget for feed, bedding, show supplies and other miscellaneous expenses that may be incurred. You may decide to add money to the budget or take it away based on what you can re-use such as buckets, feeders and grooming supplies, and what new items you may want to purchase such as different types of supplements, additional show equipment, etc.

Organize and categorize. As you prepare your budget, create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel that outlines the various categories such as feed, bedding, veterinarian/medications and entry fees that you can track your budgeted versus actual expenses.

Begin with the end in mind. If your main goal is to generate revenue for future expenses like college, think about what your end goal is. If your end goal includes being profitable with your project, keep that in mind as you build your budget. A good way to determine how much your animal may sell for is to look at the average price of that animal on the free market. If you are able to still be profitable using the market price, you are positioning yourself to be profitable with your project.

Budgeting is an important skill to develop and just like any skill it takes practice. Animal science projects are a great way to practice this skill in a safe and encouraging environment.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H animal science programs, please visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Science webpage.

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