4-H Youth Development Program
4-H Youth Development Program
4-H Youth Development Program
University of California
4-H Youth Development Program

Animal Science

Animal Science

In animal science projects, 4-H members:

  • Learn about animals and their behavior, health, and reproduction.
  • Practice leadership skills and roles, take part in community affairs, and demonstrate citizenship responsibility.
  • Explore career, job, and productive leisure opportunities.
  • Learn to use accepted practices for mental, physical, and emotional health.
  • Develop personal integrity, a sense of sportsmanship and team cooperation, and an ability to speak in public through participation in related activities, such as demonstrations, talks, judging events, field days, tours, and exhibits.
  • Share acquired knowledge and skills with other 4-H members.
  • Show their animal science projects at county fairs and expositions.
  • Develop skills, knowledge and attitudes for lifelong use.

The Animal Science Education Advisory Committee develops guidelines for 4-H animal science projects.

State 4-H Contact: DeAnn Tenhunfeld at dtenhunfeld@ucanr.edu

Veterinary Feeding Directives

As of January 1, 2017, all medically-important antibiotics for use in or on feed and in water now require a veterinary feed directive (VFD) or a prescription. This new requirement will affect many livestock producers including 4-H members. 

The State 4-H Office, in coordination with the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be presenting a one-hour webinar on multiple dates to further explain the new regulations and their implications. 

Webinar Dates: 

January 11th 10:00-11:00 am

January 17th 10:00-11:00 am

February 6th 10:00-11:00 am

February 28th 10:00-11:00 am

The webinars will be hosted in Zoom Conferencing. Please join one of these webinars from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at: https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/174735292

The recordings will be made available following the webinars. Additionally, an FAQ document will be put together with questions stemming from the webinar.

If you cannot attend any of the webinar dates, please feel free to watch the recording of the January 17th recording below.

<img src="http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/media/sb3#fileinfo.filenum#.png" alt="Image from Flash Video" />

Additional information and resources can be found at the links below:

FDA VFD Overview (Video): http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalFeedSafetySystemAFSS/ucm529868.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery 

CDFA, Safe Animal Education Program: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/safe.html 

Finding a Veterinarian in California: http://4h.ucanr.edu/files/254570.pptx


Animal Science Resources

4-H Animal Science Projects

Guide Dog
Veterinary science is the research and application of medical, diagnostic, and therapeutic principles to companion, domestic, exotic, wildlife, and production animals. Veterinary science is vital to the study and protection of animal production practices. Veterinary science 4-H projects help 4-H members develop an appreciation for the discipline. 4-H members are taught basic practices in veterinary medicine.

Livestock judging is a process of evaluating, selecting, and placing various livestock species. Selection of project animals is actually judging livestock, comparing the merits of one animal against the merits of other potential project animals. Livestock producers, breeders, feeders, buyers, and packers evaluate livestock for their potential as well. In 4-H, livestock judging contests are held to test the knowledge of 4-H members. Click here for information on: State Qualifiers for National Events

Service animals are trained to do work for persons with disabilities other than blindness or deafness. Therapeutic animals are trained to provide comfort and emotional support to persons in need. Although dogs are primary used as service and therapeutic animals, some types of capuchin monkeys, horses, and domestic cats are also used. Guide Dogs allow 4-H members to assist in training service dogs.

Large Animals

Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (beef), dairy products (milk), and labor (pulling carts, plows, etc). Cattle today are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. 4-H members primary engage in either beef or dairy cattle projects.

Equine animals have been among the most economically important domesticated animals. Horses and humans interact in many ways, not only in a wide variety of sports and non-competitive recreational pursuits, but also in working activities such as agriculture, entertainment, assisted learning, and therapy. Horses can carry humans or perform work such as pulling carts or plows. Hundreds of distinct horse breeds were developed, allowing horses to be specialized for certain tasks: lighter horses for racing or riding, heavier horses for farming and other tasks requiring pulling power. Some horses, such as the miniature horse, can be kept as pets. 4-H horse projects allow members to raise, train, and show horses. Click Equine Education for more information.

The California 4-H Youth Development Program offers a wide variety of equine projects including breeding, draft, drill, driving, English & western, gymkhana, judging, miniature, trail riding, and ponies. The Animal Science Education Advisory Committee develops guidelines and curriculum for 4-H horse projects.

California 4-H horse projects help youth:

  • Acquire skills in horse management by owning a horse or pony and being responsible for it.
  • Appreciate riding as recreation.
  • Learn horsemanship skills.
  • Understand breeding, training, and raising of horses as a business.
  • Acquire safety skills to prevent injury to persons and animals.
  • Promote love and humane treatment of animals.

Goats are a longtime domesticated species. For thousands of years, goats have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins.  4-H members may elect to learn and care for angora, dairy, pygmy, meat, or nigerian dwarf goats.

Animal Science-4-Her at Madera County Fair 05-07
Llamas are generally very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious, and most will approach people easily. Llamas have historically been used as pack animals and for their wool. 4-H llama projects are an option for 4-H members; however, they are not as common.

Animal Science-tirhs shepp
Sheep were one of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes and are primarily valued for their fleece and meat. A sheep's wool is the most widely used commodity of any animal. 4-H members primary select between either market or breeding 4-H sheep projects.

Check out this video on Tail Docking

Swine (pigs) are farmed for their meat, called pork. Pigs are exhibited at agricultural shows, where they are judged either as stud stock or as meat animals. Pigs are known to be intelligent animals and have been found to be more trainable than dogs or cats. 4-H members in swine project select between market or breeding projects.

Small Animals

Animal Science-stick
Many species of birds are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired through hunting or farming.  Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Many types of 4-H projects are available to 4-H members who are interested in birds. For those interested in production of meat and eggs, there are 4-H poultry, game bird or embryology projects. For those interested in pets, there are 4-H exotic bird projects.  More information can be found at UC Davis Poultry and Egg website and http://msucares.com/4h_Youth/4hpoultry/ 

Animal Science-Girl with bunny
In Western societies, the guinea pig (cavies) has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet. Domestic guinea pigs generally live in cages, come in many breeds, and become amenable to human handling. 4-H members may keep guinea pigs as pets and exhibit them in shows.

The dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds. Dogs are highly social animals who are trainable, playful, and have an ability to fit into human households and social situations.  4-H members may engage in dog care and training 4-H projects.

Entomology is the scientific study of insects. Insect identification is an increasingly common hobby, with butterflies and dragonflies being the most popular. 4-H members may choose to take an entomology or beekeeping project.

Historically, rabbits have been used as a food and clothing source. However, many people now keep rabbits as pets. Rabbits can live indoors in a pen and are fairly easy to train. Rabbits are a favorite project for 4-H members with space limitations.


Recommended Curricula for Animal Science

Talking Points for Exhibitors at Fair

2013 Compendium of Measures to Prevent Diseases Associated with Animals in Public Settings

Fair Handbook

APHIS Factsheet - Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot & Mouth Disease - Guide for Producers

Foot & Mouth Disease - Livestock Producers, Allied Industries, Foreign Travelers, and Visitors







Animal Health Alert: Swine Flu Update, visit http://ucanr.edu/4Hsafety/

Measures to Minimize Influenza Transmission at Swine Exhibitions, 3-11-13

Below is the link to the Pork Board’s  updated “A Champions Guide to Youth Swine Exhibition.”  http://www.pork.org/filelibrary/NPBAChampionsGuidetoYouthSwineExhibition.pdf.

 Please note that UC Cooperative Extension personnel in collaboration with scientists in the UC School of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Extension developed the Bio-Security in 4-H Animal Science curriculum. The FREE curriculum is available at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/Search/biosecurity.aspx. The Bio-Security Proficiencies Project teaches 4-H youth about animal health, disease transmission, risk analysis, risk reduction and disease prevention.

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