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Tips for purchasing your 4-H project

Acquiring new livestock is exciting, no matter if it is to build your herd or if it is the purchase of your annual 4-H project. 
Making sure to do your homework so that you are fully prepared is key in starting off on the right foot. 
Michigan State University Extension recommends that you take the time to get all of the important health information about potential purchases from the seller and that you prepare animal housing facilities ahead of time. 
Taking these steps will help to make the transition to a new home as stress free as possible.

Assessing Animal Health and Treatment Documentation
When purchasing animals, it is important to know their history. Answering the following questions will help you make an informed purchase:
1. When was the animal born?
2. What vaccinations has the animal been given and when were they given?
3. Have any other treatments been administered to the animal (deworm, delouse, antibiotics, etc.)? If so, what is the withdrawal period for the drugs given?
4. Have any of the animals on the farm been ill or shown symptoms of illness?
5. If acquiring a market animal, what is the approximate weight?

Bringing New Stock Home
Once you make the decision to purchase new stock, there are many additional considerations to keep in mind. These include: 
1. Transportation. If you do not own a trailer, you may need to make arrangements with the breeder or someone else that has a trailer to transport  animals for you. Please remember that although some people may want to help you out free of charge, as a courtesy, you should be prepared to pay someone to provide transportation. 
2. Unloading. Making sure that your facility is ready to acquire new livestock before they arrive is essential and can make the transition less stressful. Make sure that you have a pen identified for new animals to go into that is set up with water and appropriate feed when you arrive. 
3. Settling in. Newly acquired animals should be quarantined, or kept away from other animals that are already housed on the premises, for a minimum of 21 days. The more physical space you can put in between animals, the better. 
4. Comingling. When you are beginning to comingle animals, remember that each specie has a herd hierarchy. It is important to make sure that hazards to animals as they establish their place in the herd or flock are kept to a minimum. 
For more information about your 4-H animal science projects, visit