For many 4-H’ers, the county fair is the best time of the year. It is the time to show off your furry (or feathered) best friend who now knows how to strut in the ring, stand perfectly in position, and move around with you like you’re attached at the hip! It is also a time to be with friends you don’t see every day. The prime time, if I will, to break out the spider on a string or dollar on a fishing pole prank. But the age old debate has yet to be cleared, which livestock barn is the coolest?
As a well-rounded livestock enthusiast, I feel that it is my duty to get to the bottom of this. What you are about to read is a short summary of interviews with 4-H’ers dedicated to a particular barn. I want to get everyone’s side to which barn is best and why.
Dairy cows are the iconic fair animal. The dairy 4-H’ers will tell you that the dairy barn is the coolest livestock barn because cows are really big animals, and some of them are really tough to train. Training, grooming, and showing cows is not an easy feat. 4-H’ers in the dairy barn pour all their time into their furry friends, and their hard work pays off. 4-H’ers will tell stories of how far their cows have come since the first day of halter training, and they feel that the hard work is fun. 4-H’ers in the dairy barn tend to be a tight-knit group, and they talk about their cows as if they are children of their own! Dairy show’ers are hard workers, no doubt!
What is black, white, and red all over? The beef barn. Beef cows don’t get the same hype that dairy cows do. Perhaps it is the lack of spots and speckles, but beef cows bring different challenges to the table. Beef 4-H’ers will tell you that the beef barn is the coolest to show in because they too have very large animals, and they get to showcase how well they grew their animals. 4-H’ers who show beef are very in tune with their animal’s diet and weight — they put a lot of thought into their animals.
The last big animal at the fair: the horses. 4-H’ers in the horse barn will say that their barn is the coolest because it is full of love. A 4-H’er and their horse need to work as a team to complete shows and races, and the horse 4-H’ers train their horses to understand them. In shows like barrel racing or dressage, the 4-H’er and horse need to be a unit. Horses are a big time commitment, and take a lot of patience.
Goats and sheep
A troublesome bunch! The curly wool on sheep and cute patterns on goats are hardly what is fun about them, it is their personalities! 4-H’ers who show goats or sheep would say that their barn is the coolest to show in because goats and sheep are such silly critters. Whether it is climbing fences, getting their head stuck in the hog panels, or swiping the neighbors hay, goats and sheep provide all-day entertainment.
They’re much cuter when they’re not yours! Pig 4-H’ers can be in over their heads when it comes to having a neat and orderly show animal. Pigs live for making trouble. 4-H’ers in the pig barn say that their barn is the coolest because of the pig show itself. The pig show not only is fun to participate in, but it is fun to watch! Some of the largest crows that I have ever seen are at pig shows. 4-H’ers chasing down their pig, tapping them into the right direction is harder than it looks!
Chickens and rabbits
The most mobile of them all. One thing I have noticed about rabbit and chicken barns is that there are a lot of empty cages, 4-H’ers showing rabbits or chickens are always carrying their critters with them! Many 4-H’ers in the rabbit and poultry barn say that their barns are the coolest because rabbits and chickens are the least amount of work. While it is true that it takes far less time to train a chicken or a rabbit than a cow or a horse, 4-H’ers in these barns are always interacting with fair-goers. Because they can carry their critters around with them, these 4-H’ers tend to interact with fair-goers much more, and teach people a lot about their animals. Poultry and rabbit 4-H’ers might not have a time-consuming animal, but their commitment to their animals goes far.
It is really tough to decide which 4-H barn is the coolest. All 4-H’ers prove to be passionate about their chosen species, and all species are very different.
What amazed me, listening to 4-H’ers describe their barns, was that all of the 4-H’ers love working with their animals. Horses can buck you off, cows can knock you over, and goats have the amazing ability to eat everything in sight. 4-H’ers are not doing easy work, but they love every second of it, and they love their animals.
I cannot say which barn is the coolest or most fun, but I can say that all 4-H’ers deserve to have some fun at the county fairs. They work harder than no others, and they never want anything in return except to keep working with their furry (or feathered) little friends.
Elizabeth Maslyn is a Cornell University student pursuing a career in the dairy industry. Her passion for agriculture has driven her desire to learn more, and let the voices of our farmers be heard.