If you're just visiting and wondering what the heck a club lamb is, here's some information:
Have you ever been to the county fair? Back in the back. Behind the rides and the
veggie-matic salesman, are the livestock barns. There you can find pigs, goats,
cattle, chickens, and my favorite: sheep. Did you also notice the kids hanging out,
laughing, sweeping, washing lambs? So what's going on there?
Before the fair, kids from 9 to 18 join 4H or FFA and enroll in a Market Lamb or Breeding Sheep project.
There they learn about raising sheep, feeding lambs, disease control, breeding sheep, fitting lambs and sheep.
Oh just all sorts of stuff.
Then they buy a lamb from a club lamb breeder. Usually at least 60 days before the fair.
During that 60 days they are responsible for all the daily feeding and care of the lamb.
They also learn how to show a lamb, how to brace a lamb, and how to setup
the lamb for the judge.
Finally, the County Fair opens and all the lambs get moved to the fair grounds. This
is where most people see all the confusion and fun. The 4H and FFA kids are taking
care of all the last minute washing and shearing in preparation for the sheep show.
The sheep show is the highlight of the fair for me. All the kids are wearing their
best show clothes. The lambs are washed and fitted out with care. The excitement
really starts when the judge enters the ring.
"Is my lamb too fat?" "Can I make it brace?" "What is he going to ask me?"
You can almost hear the kids thinking and worrying.
After the judging, the ribbons, and the pressure, comes the auction. What a mix
of emotions. You're happy the lamb show is over. You're glad your market lamb
project is complete, but your a little sad that the lamb is being sold.
On the other hand, you can join a Breeding Sheep or a Wool Breed (like Merino) project. Then there
is all the fun of the fair, and preparing your breeding ewe or purebred ram, but your
animal comes back home.
So whether it is a wether at the market lamb jackpot, or a suffolk breeding ewe in full wool,
the county fair is a great place to be. You get to meet people, show-off your
livestock skills, and enjoy the fun and competition.
So next time you're at the county fair, ask someone about their sheep project.
You never know, you might be there next year.