The Ulster County 4-H Program invites local youth to join us at the first meeting of the year on January 14 at 6 p.m. This program teaches sustainable animal husbandry practices that produce healthy livestock for our local meat market. From start to finish, these youth learn all aspects of the market process including animal nutrition, evaluation and selection, welfare, marketing, and processing. The program runs from January through September and is taught by Emma Jenks, a 4-H alumna and Livestock Educator.
The program participants who raise livestock (chickens, ducks, geese, goats, sheep, cows, and pigs) will sell their animals at the 4-H Livestock Auction in August which is typically held at the Ulster County Fair. The money raised at this charity auction goes back to the youth to support their ongoing projects, save for college, etc. Those who do not have livestock to sell can still participate by attending our educational sessions and help with marketing and event planning.
In response to COVID-19, the 2020 4-H Livestock Auction took place online through a virtual bidding platform. The auction nearly doubled the number of registered bidders (71 in total) and attracted new bidders from out-of-state. Another notable difference was the increase in live animal purchases. “We believe this increase was due to the difficulties facing farmers in 2020 such as purchasing livestock and feed,” says Jason Detzel, Livestock Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCE Ulster). “It's possible this shift from purchasing processed meats to live animals was for breeding purposes to support family homesteads.”
The pandemic has increased a new awareness among the general population in regards to local food systems, leading to an unprecedented interest in home-grown food. Cornell Cooperative Extension, the organization that administers the Ulster County 4-H Program, hosts numerous livestock education programs throughout the year. Normally, the organization’s in-person classes attract around 30 participants. With classes going virtual in 2020, they’ve broken down geographical barriers and increased access to their programs and services. CCE Ulster’s backyard chickens class had over 400 participants and the 6-week pasture pigs class had over 800 participants from across the state! This January, the 4-H Livestock Market Program expects an increased interest as well.
Last updated December 24, 2020