Market goat

Baillee Crandell, Gettysburg, has an emotional moment after winning Grand Champion market goat.

The 36th Annual Adams County 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Auction to be held Saturday, Aug. 3, at the South Mountain Fairgrounds will be the culminating event for more than 70 local youth. These Adams County 4-H and FFA members have dedicated their last few months to raising high quality market steers, dairy beef steers, hogs, lambs, goats, rabbits and poultry. It all leads up to the biggest night of their livestock experience: Sale night. Ever considered attending the Sale and purchasing an animal? Here’s why you should support your local 4-H and FFA members on Sale night.

Working closely with their 4-H leaders and FFA advisors, youth learn what to look for when selecting a market animal. They look for structure, soundness, and capacity, all qualities that can indicate if an animal will grow to be a champion. It may sound strange, but eight year olds learn how to make their first business transactions when they purchase their animals and subsequent feed. These market projects instill important business and budgeting skills in youth from the beginning.

Once members have purchased their animals, the hard part begins. Youth are responsible for formulating a feed ration and schedule to ensure their animals are not too big, not too small, but just right. They make adjustments to housing when inclement weather hits, and work with their animals daily so they behave in the showring. It is a long term commitment that teaches valuable life skills and lessons youth won’t soon forget. 4-H and FFA are known across the country for teaching responsibility, decision making, leadership, business skills, sportsmanship, public speaking, and impressive work ethics. Each spring, all members complete a Quality Animal Management training that teaches biosecurity, safe handling, body condition scoring, and more.

Before Sale night arrives, members are responsible for sending buyer letters to businesses asking them to bid on their animals. Often they reach out to businesses their families use throughout the year, the plumber, the dentist, the HVAC company, the landscapers, local attorneys or car dealerships. The money these youth receive from the sale of animals goes right back into their projects for the coming year. They track profits and losses, make decisions based on their records to purchase new equipment, and put aside money for college. 4-H and FFA really is a tremendous introduction to real world financial responsibility and decision making.

Maybe you received a letter from a 4-H or FFA member, now what? Even if you haven’t received a letter, this is your opportunity to give back to the community that supports your business! Come to the South Mountain Fair on Saturday, Aug. 3, and bid on an animal. The Sale starts at 4 p.m., starting with beef cattle followed by dairy beef, goats, sheep, meat pen chickens, turkeys, meat pen rabbits and swine. Buyers receive a plaque to proudly display in their store front that shows they support our Adams County youth. Some businesses purchase an animal and have a company cookout after it’s butchered. Others fill their own freezer. If you are interested in supporting a youth member but don’t want to haul or purchase any meat, you can also select the Buyback option. When you buy an animal and choose Buyback, you only pay the difference between what you bid and the pre-determined price the buyback bidder will pay on that animal. You will not get any meat, but your bill will be lower, and the 4-H/FFA member still gets the price you bid on that animal. If you have any questions, call Carolyn McGraw at the Penn State Extension office at 717-334-6271.

All our Adams County youth put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their 4-H and FFA projects. They sit in the pens with their animals, give them treats, work through “disagreements” together, and produce the highest quality market animals possible. These kids are the future of agriculture, and the future our community. Please consider supporting them at the Junior Livestock Sale on Aug. 3 at the South Mountain Fair.

Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a non-formal educational youth-development program of the United States Department of Agriculture that helps young people develop knowledge and skills to become capable, caring and contributing citizens. To find your local program, visit the Penn State Extension website at

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