There are two types of 4-H Livestock projects: market and breeding. Market animals are selected, fed and cared for with the goal of bringing top dollar in an agriculture market at maturity. Breeding projects are aimed at herd management.
Market livestock go through different phases of judging. The first phase of judging is based on "rate of gain". All animals are weighed at the beginning of their 4-H management and the day before judging. Many factors influence the animals rate of gain: quality and quantity of feed, general health and vigor, maturity at the first weigh-in and hereditary factors. Animals of each species that are most efficient in gaining weight will earn special awards. The second phase of judging is "on the hoof". A paid judge, experienced in the evaluation of good market traits, compares each animal in the same weight class. 1st-10th place ribbons are awarded. These awards determine the auction order. The expense and hard work of the 4-Hers, their parents and leaders are rewarded in a successful livestock auction.
Feeding market livestock is a business venture for 4hers. Producing a marketable animal that meets quality grading standards and returns a profit can be a challenge. Through an educational livestock marketing program, members acquire knowledge and an understanding of sound livestock production and management practices.