Inside 4-H: Participating in animal/animal product evaluation provides unique learning opportunities

Youth involved in the Michigan 4-H animal science projects have a unique opportunity to develop their evaluation and decision-making skills through various trainings such as the Michigan 4-H Poultry Evaluation.

Livestock judging is a process of evaluating, selecting and placing various livestock species. Selection of project animals is actually judging livestock, comparing the merits of one animal against the merits of another animal. In 4-H, livestock judging contests are held to test the knowledge and skills of 4-H members.

Four steps are involved in judging animals:

  • Information - The judge must know the intended use of the animals.
  • Observation - The judge must carefully observe each animal and note how it meets or fails to meet the requirements of its intended use.
  • Comparison - Each animal must be compared with all others to establish differences and similarities.
  • Conclusion - After completion of the first three steps, the judge must arrive at a logical placing for the animals

Youth involved in the 4-H Poultry project will have a unique opportunity to develop and hone their skill in livestock evaluation through the offering of the Michigan 4-H Poultry Evaluation Workshop. This exciting, hands-on workshop will provide youth an opportunity to learn about all aspects of poultry evaluation in live birds, meat and eggs. The various quality standards of each of these categories will be explained in depth and youth will have the opportunity to practice using the knowledge they have acquired during hands-on activities in the workshop. Youth ages 9-19 are encouraged to attend the workshop to build their skill in poultry evaluation.

The workshops will be hosted by various county 4-H programs around the state from March through May. For a complete listing of locations and registration information, visit the Michigan State University Extension 4-H website.

This workshop will help youth prepare to compete in the 2012 Poultry Palooza “You Be the Judge” contest where youth will have the opportunity to observe, compare and reach a conclusion on a series of live bird groups, poultry product grading and egg grading stations. Participants will be asked to compare the category at each station, whether it be live animals, meat products or eggs, determine how it meets or fails to meet the specified requirements and form a conclusion with a ranking of the class. Youth then will defend their decision through communicating to a contest official the reasons why they ranked the stations the way that they did.

Through contests like this, youth develop a multitude of life skills such as critical thinking, decision making and public speaking. These skills are applicable in all areas of life, and 4-H programs offer youth the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in a safe environment.

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