We recently started a grass-fed lamb educational project. While we originally envisioned this project for 4-H members, we decided to open it more broadly (at least in this first year). Our participants this year include both children and adults - our oldest daughter, Lara; three boys from Nevada County; our newest apprentice Callie Murphy and her boyfriend Matt; and the four children of our other apprentice, Paul Lambertson.
Through this project, we're hoping to help our participants learn about animal selection, husbandry practices, pasture management, meat processing, marketing and financial record keeping. Each participant selected a lamb at weaning and paid market price for the lamb. We've been scheduling regular work days during which the participants help with things like shearing, moving fence, vaccinating the lambs, and other activities.
Once the lambs reach finish weight, we'll talk again about live animal evaluation and will place the lambs in order of their quality. We'll place them again after they've been processed - based on meat quality and yield. Finally, each participant will market the meat (or keep it for their own use, if they want).
4-H does some wonderful things for youth development and education. Over the years, 4-H has also been a vehicle for teach farmers and ranchers new production techniques by educating their children. Both of our daughters are 4-H members - Lara even had the 4-H champion lamb at our county fair last year. While the 4-H program has been wonderful, I think it sometimes fails to expose kids to alternative approaches to livestock production - a grass-fed lamb will not compete well at a county fair. We hope our project offers kids (and their parents), as well as our apprentices, a hands-on opportunity to learn about grass-based livestock production.