Livestock and youth

County Agent’s Corner

The 2019 4-H/FFA Steer and Heifer Show is right around the corner.

The 2019 4-H/FFA Steer and Heifer Show is right around the corner.

This time of year, the youth of Blount County are involved in several 4-H livestock projects. These projects teach important life skills, such as responsibility for raising animals, record keeping, and the importance of biosecurity and welfare of commercial animals.

They must also learn about the animals they are raising. For example in the Chick-Chain, they must be able to identify the different parts of the bird, including type of feathers, and how the breed was developed. They need to know how much protein is in the feed they are providing as well as how to blend feeds to increase the protein and reduce overall feed cost. There is a lot more to these animal projects that just showing up and showing off your work and collecting prize money.

Some of the animal science projects cost a good bit to be involved in. For example, if you want to raise a steer or heifer to show, you will have to either raise one on your farm or purchase one, which can get into money. The 4-H Pig Squeal project requires the purchase of two pigs that cost about $60 each. The 4-H Chick-Chain requires the purchase of 10 pullets at a cost of $50 which includes all required vaccinations.

On the flip side of the cost is the prize money youth can win and auction money at the Pig Squeal and Chick-Chain. Sponsorship of these programs is very important so participants can be rewarded for their effort. If you are ever asked to be a sponsor for any of these programs, please take it into consideration. We’re always going to need folks in animal production because we all like to eat. Other than living on a working farm, there is no better training in animal science than these 4-H programs.

That being said, the Blount County 4-H/FFA Steer and Heifer Show will be held Saturday, March 2, at 3 p.m., at the Blount County-Oneonta Agribusiness Center. Seven exhibitors from Appalachian, Cleveland, Hayden, and Susan Moore will compete for Champion Heifer and Market Animal. This year’s show will begin with the market show (steers and market heifers) and conclude with showmanship classes and the heifer show. We hope that you can come out and support these youth!

Mark your calendar for our annual 4-H Pig Squeal Show and Auction as well. The event is scheduled for April 20 at the Agribusiness Center. The auction will begin at 11 a.m. This is your chance to support these kids and bring home the bacon, literally. After getting the winning bid, you can mark how you want it processed and we will transport it to the processor. All you have to do is pick it up, ready to fry or grill. If you would like to be a sponsor for the 4-H Pig Squeal (all prize money goes to participants), contact the Blount County Extension office at 274-2129. The Master Gardener Plant Sale will be the same day as the Pig Squeal, so come on out and support both.

The Extension office is currently taking registrations for our 4-H Chick-Chain program. Youth, ages 9 to 19 may participate. Youth do not have to be a 4-H Club member. Participants will receive 10 pullets from one of three breeds, Barred Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpington, or Black Australorp. They will raise these birds for approximately 21 weeks. They will bring two birds of the same breed back to the 4-H Chick-Chain Show and Auction, which will be held in conjunction with the county fair in September. Prize money in Showmanship, Best of Breed, overall Champion Bird, and Reserve Champion will be awarded. They also take home the auction money. If this sounds like something your child or grandchild would be interested in, contact our office or go to for additional information. Cost for this program is $50 and registration closes on March 4.

A training program for obtaining a Restricted Use Pesticide Permit for Private Applicators will be conducted on Monday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Frank Green Building auditorium. Cost is $20 with checks made out to Blount County Extension. This permit is required for anyone wishing to apply restricted use pesticides on property they own or rent.

What’s Buggin’ You? is a program on nuisance wildlife and insect pests in and around your home and landscape. This should be for all homeowners and will cover fire ants, armadillos, raccoons, squirrels, stinkbugs and more. The program will be conducted on Tuesday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., at the Frank Green Building auditorium, located at 415 5th Ave. E., Oneonta. We need at least 10 folks to sign up for the program by Friday, Feb. 15, or it will be cancelled. The cost is $10 which can be paid at the door with checks made payable to ACES. If you plan to attend, please call regional agent Bethany O’Rear at (205) 612-9524. She is handling registration.

A Commercial Tomato Program will be conducted on Tuesday, Feb. 19, as well. It will also be in the Frank Green Building auditorium and will begin at 1 p.m. There is no fee and it is open to anyone with an interest in growing tomatoes. Anyone with special needs should call the Extension Office and let us know prior to the meeting.

Sometimes folks ask me what I do. I often sort of stumble around trying to explain my job and I end up just answering, “I’m in the education business.” Now you get a glimpse of why I have a hard time answering the question, kind of like Mr. Kemble on Green Acres, which most folks alive today have never seen.

Dan Porch is County Extension Coordinator with the Blount County Extension Office. Dan lives in and loves Blount County and is available to answer your questions about conservation, agriculture, natural resources, and gardening. He can be reached at (205) 274-2129 or