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Livestock 101: Camp teaches youths how to raise championship animals
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Junior Livestock Camp attendees get up close and personal with a goat during the showmanship portion of the class. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

 Over 700 youths flocked to the Stanislaus County Fair stockyards last weekend for the 9th annual Junior Livestock Camp.  The two-day free event gave youth and group leaders the chance to learn in-depth skills related to raising and showing livestock, including preparation tips for fair competitions.

“This year we had a huge turnout in the number of participants for this event,” said Associative Feed and Supply representative Jared Penfold.  “We had people from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo who were in attendance and many other FFA and 4H groups from all over the Valley participated.”

The camp included presentations by industry experts on the topics of nutrition, fitting, showmanship, feeds, selection, and evaluation.  By the end of the camp, attendees were equipped with the tools needed to be in the winner’s circle.

“On Saturday we included sessions in beef, sheep, and dairy cattle,” said Penfold.  “On Sunday we covered swine and hog participants. We taught our campers the essential nutrition each type of animal needs in preparation for competition.  We also provided lessons on the types of feeds to give the animal.  We also discussed the types of traits judges are looking for during showmanship.”

Participants were also given the chance to be up close and personal with the animals.  Livestock consultant and goat guest speaker Derrek Smalley let his students pet the goats after he taught the showmanship portion of the class.

“It’s important to educate these students on how to properly groom a goat and all the small details entailed to win,” said Smalley.  “I teach the kids what the judges are looking for and I also tell them the dos and don’ts during showmanship.”

Parents were also in on the action, as they took notes with their kids and asked questions of the guest speakers.

“This camp is a great program for our kids,” said participant mother Giselle Andrews.  “It teaches responsibility, work ethic, and marketing skills that can help our children be successful in the future.”