Planning for your 4-H beef project animal: Preparations

First article in series featuring tips and tricks as you prepare for and select your 4-H market beef animal.

Preparing for a beef project starts long before the cattle arrive.
Preparing for a beef project starts long before the cattle arrive.

As the fall weather approaches, many youth across Michigan begin looking for their 4-H beef project animal. Caring for a beef animal requires forward thinking and creating a plan of how to see your project through to the end. In addition to the requirement of selecting the animal, there is also a financial burden of caring for an animal through the duration of your project. This three-part series will review important beef project content and address three main topics: preparations for the beef animal, estimating costs of care and calf selection. These tips and tricks will help you be more prepared for your 4-H beef project experience.

The first article starts at the beginning: preparations. As you make plans to raise and care for a beef project, think through all of the needs of your project. These details will help make the process of caring for a beef animal easier. Here are a few examples of needs for your project.

  • Financial burden: Raising and caring for cattle require a large input of funds to purchase and provide feed for the animal. Learn how to be better prepared for the costs through the “Estimating Costs” article.
  • Fences: Cattle are curious and will tend to notice weak areas of fencing. Fences should be secure and well laid out to allow for human access to the pen, as well as quick exit of the pen if needed. The fence should be tall enough to discourage a calf from jumping if spooked, as well as keep a grown project animal in the pen.
  • Feed storage: Quality roughage is a necessity of raising beef cattle since they are ruminant animals, meaning they have four compartments to their stomach. Planning for your 4-H beef project animal: Calf selection

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