The Kentucky 4-H Animal Science Program offers opportunities for young people to learn about different livestock species, horses, and small animals including rabbits and dogs. For many of the programs, animal ownership is not mandatory.

Young people can start out by learning the basics including nutrition, health and daily care of an animal of their choosing. 4-H offers educational programs for beef and dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, poultry, country ham, rabbits and dogs. Young people can also learn about the different breeds of each animal. As their knowledge grows, 4-H members can progress through the animal science curriculum and start learning how to evaluate animals and prepare oral reasons, how to calculate feed rations and research clinical signs and treatments of diseases.

4-H'ers display their knowledge through many different avenues. Some start out by competing in local shows, quiz bowls or skill-a-thons. Winners of these often advance to regionals, state and even national competitions. This year, our Kentucky 4-H All-Star Livestock Judging Team won the national championship for the first time, and we are so proud of them.

4-H is more than participating in or winning different competitions. 4-H'ers learn valuable life skills as they attend clubs, complete projects and care for their animal. Our young people learn about proper animal stewardship. They also learn responsibility as they care for a show animal or complete animal science-related projects. Many members sharpen their communication skills by delivering oral reasons or giving a speech or demonstration. In 2019, more than 27,000 young Kentuckians reported that they improved or learned a new skill as the result of 4-H agriculture and natural resources programs, and more than 33,000 4-H'ers said they understand the role agriculture plays in the production of food and fiber.

Adults also can get involved in 4-H animal science programs by becoming certified livestock, horse or small animal leaders. Leaders are local volunteers who provide guidance and education to young people. To become a certified leader, a volunteer must attend a daylong certification workshop and complete continuing education hours each year.

For more information about animal science programs, contact Aubrey Clark for Beef, Swine, Goats, and Rabbits, and contact Scott Darst for Horse, Poultry, and Dogs, at the Madison County Extension office, 859-623-4072, or find us on Facebook, Madison County KY 4-H.

(Source: Ashley Osborne, 4-H youth development extension specialist)

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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