[Jacob-list] Fiber Animals and 4-H
beegal7 at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 28 18:02:57 EST 2007
I forwarded your message to my friend Cathy Carney who with her daughter Vivian has done 4H and fiber (Shetlands) for several years now. Perhaps she can offer advice or encouragement.
JACI SIEHL <wedohoney at sbcglobal.net> wrote: I have a meeting soon with our local 4-H people to try to figure out a way to promote and market fiber animals to the 4-H and local fairs.
Has anyone else attempted to do this? If so how successful was it and how did you do it? Right now our main ideas are:
The same animal can be used for several years (no slaughtering and no buying new animals each year) this would allow for real bonding, a long-term commitment from the 4-H'er and an ever-learning experience.
For lambs and kids, the animals could be purchased early on or they could purchase an unshorn animal the 60 days before the fair. It would mean a little coordinating with the breeder so that the animal is not sheared at the wrong time. Otherwise, the first year could be shown for conformation and the next year for conformation and fleece auction.
The fleeces could be auctioned just like the market animals are. However, after the auction the animals would be taken to an area where the local shearer can do shearing demonstrations on the animals and the kids would skirt their fleeces right there (another demonstration). The next day we would ship the fleeces to a mill. (I already have a commitment from a mill that they would be fit these fleeces into the process immediately and we would not wait for 6 - 8 months for the fleeces to come back because we would know exactly how many fleeces and when the fleeces would be sent to them.
It would be up to the 4-H'er and the purchaser what they wanted to get from the fleece; either roving or yarn. The roving and yarn could be part of the fleece purchase package. It would be up to the purchaser what they wanted to do with the yarn (we could give them ideas and refer them to someone if they wanted something made).
With this idea we should be able to see a nice shawl or a few scarves and/or hats from one fleece. Something the people could keep forever or use as gifts, not just a large BBQ.
In this process the kids could also learn to shear, process the wool, spin, knit, weave, or felt. The same animal could be entered into more than one fair a year, just like the breeders are.
The same process would work with any fiber animal from angora rabbits, sheep, goats, or even llamas or alpacas.
I am sure that the kids could get a fairly good price for their fleeces so that this really would be a marketable project. Another point is that currently with market animals kids don't really learn about the "real world" economics of raising animals since they are only in it for 2 months. This would be a realistic project, something that they could use later if they wanted only a couple animals.
Ok, now I'd love to get your feedback - pros and cons, pitfalls you see that I haven't thought of......anything.
Thanks for listening
Yankee Hill, California
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