Project swap is a winner
Sam Coffin and Lane Hecht are classmates and friends. They're also 4-H members from McClouth, Kan., who proposed trading 4-H projects this year.
Coffin typically participates in the swine project, and had no previous experience with raising or showing sheep.
Hecht typically participates in the sheep project, and had no previous experience with raising or showing a hog.
The boys reasoned swapping projects would allow them to learn more about caring for animals, and were pleased when their parents agreed.
Coffin had planned to try breeding hogs for the first time this year. He was successful, and swapped a baby pig for a lamb that Hecht had bred from his 4-H flock.
The two boys agreed to share feed and equipment to hold the line on expenses, and exchanged helpful how-tos in caring for the animals and prepping them for showing at the 2012 Leavenworth County Fair.
While both reported reaching their goal in learning more about animal care, the outcome offered a few surprises:
Coffin reported "lambs take more work" after finding that he needed to practice walking the lamb and what he calls "setting it up" for showing.
Hecht reported that raising a hog and prepping it for showing was easier than raising and showing sheep, and believes he "got the better end of the deal."
Both are winners: Coffin earned the Grand Champion award with his 4-H hog at the Leavenworth County Fair, and Hecht, who raised and entered a littermate of Coffin's hog, earned the Reserve Grand Champion at the same event.
Coffin also showed a female littermate, who earned the Supreme Grand Champion Breeding Gilt Award at the Fair and a trip to the Kansas State Fair this September.
The market lambs also fared well: Coffin's lamb (from Hecht) earned Champion Tunis, and Hecht's lambs earned the Champion Suffolk and Reserve Champion Hampshire awards.
Coffin reports he plans to stick with the swine project; Hecht will add the swine project next year and build on it.
Trading projects also has helped each of the boys sharpen their skills in showing different animals: Hecht earned the Champion award, and Coffin the Reserve Champion award in Round Robin Showmanship, also at the Leavenworth County Fair.