It’s county fair time! Are you ready to take your 4-H dairy cow project to the fair?
4-H Dairy Cow Project
Fair season is a busy time of year for us. In addition to doing the 4-H dairy cow project, my kids also participate in other livestock projects and many of the static projects as well.
While it may be a bit chaotic, it is fun to lean into this season and go along for the ride. My kids have learned, and continue to learn so much through 4-H. I am so thankful for the many opportunities that they have through this program!
(I have a whole post that shares about our 4-H experience!)
Whether you are new to the 4-H dairy cow project, or you are a seasoned hand, this guide will share helpful tips for how to prepare for the fair.
I have also put together a checklist (including a free printable) of things to take to the fair to make sure you are ready to take care of your animal for the duration of the fair, as well as be in tip top shape for show day.
4-H Dairy Project Fair Checklist
There are four basic categories of items you will need for the fair: water/feed/bedding, grooming/fitting, miscellaneous items, and what you will need for yourself and your animal on show day. Let’s take a closer look at each category.
You will need the following items for the general care of your animal while it is at the fair:
–alfalfa pellets or grain (I get my organic alfalfa pellets from Azure Standard)
-straw or wood flakes for bedding (check with your local county for rules)
–tarp (to put under bedding for easier cleanup)
Some livestock are really picky about their water and will not drink the water at the fairgrounds because it tastes different from what they are used to. Consider bringing a 5 gallon bucket of water from home on the first day of the fair in case your animal does not want to drink the new water.
Each county/fairground has its own rules. Be sure to check that you are in line with any rules or guidelines they may have in place. For example, we are required to put a tarp under the bedding of each livestock. And one year our fair only allowed wood flakes for bedding.
You will need the following items to make sure your animal is clean and fitted for the fair/show.
–clippers (clippers are very expensive, but we have found these ones to be a good value)
–hair dryer (make sure to bring one with the funnel attachment)
The show box does not need to be anything fancy. It can be a simple plastic storage box. We use an old cooler for ours. The important thing is to have a place to store all of your brushes and other supplies while you are at the fair so you can keep your stall area nice and tidy.
We use dish soap to wash our livestock, but there are other options as well!
It is best to clip your animal about a week or so ahead of the dairy show. That will give the hair a chance to settle and even out before the show. Just like with humans, it is not the best idea to go to an important event with a haircut that is too fresh! This is my favorite video that teaches how to clip a dairy show animal.
These items are helpful to have on hand while you are at the fair.
-handouts about your animals
-sign with animal’s name
Bungee cords are helpful for hanging things, such as the box fan that you will need to keep your animal cool. A staple gun is essential for hanging stall cards, ribbons, and other items.
Keep a camera handy at all times so you can take pictures for your record book!
Having a handout that you can give people about your animal is a wonderful way to engage with the community and educate them about your project. For example, we found that a lot of people who come to the fair do not know the difference between beef and dairy breeds. A bonus is that you can include this in your record book as leadership/community service.
It is a good idea to plan ahead and be ready for show day so that everything will go smoothly. Here is a list of items to have on show day.
Check with your local county to see what the dress code is for the dairy show. Most places require “dairy whites” which is white pants and a white shirt.
Make sure you have a hair brush on hand to get your 4-Her all spiffy before the show. If your 4-Her is a female, consider braiding her hair for a nice show ring look.
A show halter for your animal will really make her look sharp. Make sure you have the appropriate color halter for your breed. If you are showing a black, white, or gray breed such as a Holstein or Brown Swiss, you will want a black leather halter. If you are showing a breed with brown coloring, such as a Jersey or Guernsey, you will want a brown leather halter.
Having a plan and being prepared will help you have a happy and successful fair experience. There is so much more to the fair than just winning ribbons. Hard work and life lessons are excellent byproducts of the fair experience. Are you ready for the fair?
What is your favorite thing about the county fair? What other items do you include on your dairy project fair packing list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!