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4-H Started Calf project

Started Calf Project

Exhibit Options 

One calf exhibited, a poster, an interactive demonstration or a combination.

Project requirements

¬ Youth enrolled in the 4-H Started Calf project are to complete the lesson corresponding to his or her grade as of January 1 of the current year. The reference book is 4-H 117 R Beef Resource Handbook. It is to be used for the entire ten years of participation in the 4-H Started Calf project. A livestock record sheet is no longer required. Grade level lessons need to be turned in to the 4-H Dairy Beef committee at the 4-H Fair weigh in. Members may exhibit at the county fair if their paperwork is complete and health rules are followed.

The 4-H Dairy Beef/Started Calf adult volunteers are committed to insuring that youth showing calves are able to participate at the lowest cost possible while at the same time producing healthy animals to command the best price from potential buyers.

  1. A member may enroll four calves and exhibit two. They may sell only one in the 4-H livestock auction. The second calf can either be sold to the group buyer or taken home.
  2. The exhibit rules of the Indiana Board of Animal Health will govern the county show with the provision that individual counties may impose health rules that are more stringent those specified by the Indiana Board of Animal Health (IBAH). The IBAH can be contacted at 1-877-747-3038.
  3. For LaGrange County 4-H Fair entry, calves will be identified and tagged with a conventional five-digit plastic ear tag as well as an electronic Radio Frequency Identification tag (RFID tag). A per head charge for RFID tags inserted at initial weigh in may be levied. The fee is expected regardless of whether the calves are ultimately shown.
  4. To be properly identified for Indiana State Fair entry, 4-H members must enter the calves' 840-RFID tag number completely and correctly into Indiana 4-H Online and submit a DNA hair sample to the county Extension office by May 15. DNA collection envelopes and instructions are available at your county Extension office.
  5. Calves are to be enrolled on Indiana 4-H Online by May 15.  
  6. A member may show only one of the following five breeds: Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, or Guernsey. Calves must be of 100% Dairy bloodline, with NO CROSSING between any Beef OR among any Dairy breeds. The 4-H Dairy Beef/Started Calf Committee will evaluate calves for 100% dairy breed characteristics at both the April weigh in and at fair entry. Committee decisions are final.
  7. The Dairy Beef/Started Calf Committee will determine an individual calf's eligibility for exhibition at the 4-H Fair.
  8. The annual calf weigh in and identification is usually the third Saturday of April unless that date falls during Easter weekend in which case it is subject to change. Calves must weigh no more than 250 pounds when weighed in. Calves may only be switched between siblings or 4-H’ers of the same household.
  9. The calf must be in possession of the member at weigh in.
  10. If a calf dies within 30 days of the initial April weigh in, that calf may be replaced by another calf that was also weighed and checked in at the initial weigh in. The weight of the replacement calf cannot exceed the deceased calf’s weight by more than 25 pounds.
  11. Calves will be exhibited by weight. The committee at the 4-H fair weigh in will determine classes.
  12. All livestock health rules apply.
  13. No ruptured calves may be exhibited.
  14. Rate of Gain Award will be given to the individual calf gaining the most weight from weigh-into check in at the Fair.
  15. Calves fed milk at fair will be sent home.
  16. Each calf being exhibited at the fair must be dehorned and castrated prior to entry. NO CLAMPING. The 4-H Dairy Beef committee recommends this be done no later than May 15. At initial weigh in, a veterinarian may also be present at fair entry to inspect animals for overall health condition as well as proper castration and dehorning.
  17. Wood shavings maybe provided for sale at the 4-H Fair. Straw bedding is not
  18. Confirmation of the overall Grand and Reserve Champion calves may be conducted immediately following the show. A discrepancy may result in disqualification of that calf.
  19. Any calf that is offered for sale cannot be exhibited in any other 4-H show during the same program year.
  20. All animals MUST be cared for (fed, watered and clean pen). Failure to do so will result in dismissal of calves from the 4-H Fair.
  21. Upon weigh in at the 4-H Fair, the exhibitor must designate his or her intent to sell or hold the animal out of the auction.
  22. If a member needs assistance in showing a calf, any other Lagrange County 4-H member may assist. This assistance needs to be verified by the committee before the show begins.


Award is based on condition of stall and exhibit. Started Calf stalls will be graded twice per day. Grades will be based on items such as care of animal (whether clean and attractive), condition of bedding, feed sacks, feed boxes, and trunks or towels neatly arranged. Exhibitors are also responsible for cleaning all cow manure from the 20-foot fire lane outside the building and directly behind their stall.

The 4-H Started Calf member must be present at pre-fair set up and/or clean up days. Final grade will be given after clean up. Judging is the responsibility of superintendents and committee.


Dairy steers and started calves will have separate showmanship classes. Premier showmanship winners from each specie will then compete against one another for the title of All-Around Dairy Beef Showman.

¬ First Year Showmanship is open to 4-H members in grade 3 and grade 4 if it is the first time the 4-H’er has shown a calf.

¬ Junior Showmanship (Grades 4-8).

¬ Senior Showmanship (9th grade and over).

¬ Past Junior winners will compete in Senior Showmanship.

¬ Past Senior winners and the current Senior Showman Champion will compete in the Premier Showmanship Class.

Members may advance only one division each year.

Members must show their own animals.

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