Setting goals for your market livestock project

Setting goals is an important part of your market livestock project. Determining what you want to accomplish is the first step. A link to examples of simple and complex livestock project goals is provided.

A young girl in a blue shirt leading a Hereford calf.
Charlee Klink, Isabella 4-H Club, Delta County. Photo by: Tammy Klink

Part of planning for a livestock project is setting some goals. Determining what you want to accomplish is the first step in setting those goals. Goals for your livestock project can include production targets, overall health of your animal, mastering showmanship techniques or estimating the profit from the sale of your animal.

Why might these be useful goals? Setting production goals as part of your herd health plan is strongly suggested by the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals Program, YQCA. Planning and writing down the things you do to keep your animal healthy is an important part of record keeping. Estimating the costs to raise your animal and determining your break-even price can assist you in developing a feasible budget for your project. Mastering and developing skills to be successful is an important part of being involved in any 4-H project.

Goals can also be educational in nature. You may want to explore a certain aspect of your breed, learn about and implement new biosecurity practices, study nutritional needs of your animal or teach others something you know. Setting goals for your livestock project is simply deciding what you want to learn, do and accomplish. It is like a road map that helps you plan how to get where you want to go.

It is a good idea to set some goals, write them down and keep track of your progress. According to a  2015 research study led by Professor Gail Matthews, a psychologist from the Dominican University of California, it was found that individuals who wrote down their goals were 33% more successful in achieving them, compared to those who only thought about what they wanted to accomplish.

Goals should have three parts:

  1. Action: how you are going to do it!
  2. Results: what you are going to do or what will happen as a result of your action.
  3. Timetable: when you plan to do it.

A nice way to review and make sure the goal you have created is meaningful is to follow the SMART goal format. Goals can be simple or complex. Setting new, more challenging goals each year in your 4-H livestock project allows you to gain the most from your experiences.

Setting Goals for Your Livestock Project from Michigan State University Extension is another useful resource that provides insight and suggestions for developing goals for your livestock project.

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