School Ag Days
Tips for a successful Ag Day
Choosing a lamb, calf or kid for Ag Day is exciting. Once you have made your choice, the fun of caring for your pet begins. There is a lot to learn and you can check out the resource below for some practical help.
Selecting a calf, lamb or kid
You’ve decided to exhibit a calf, lamb or kid goat at your school’s Ag Day. Before approaching a farmer to select an animal, you may need to check that you have enough space and time to do a good job.
Calves, lambs and kid goats need safe, well fenced areas to graze in. Grass should be fresh and long. Many decorative plants can be poisonous to your new pet, so make sure they don’t have access to the garden.
Make sure you have enough time to look after your calf, lamb or kid goat. You will need at least 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening, everyday.
Looking after you Ag Day Pet
Keep a close eye on your new pet, and if anything changes, get your parents to check it out. Make sure you keep all the gear and bedding clean and dry.
It is very important that you have good hygiene when working with your animal. There are diseases you can catch if you aren’t careful, so make sure you always wash your hands and wear protective clothing, especially if your animal is sick.
Talk to your vet about the best time to get your animal vaccinated and treated for parasites. If it’s a boy you’ll need to think about when to get him castrated as well.
It is common for lambs to have their tails shortened (docked) in order to prevent flystrike later in life. This should be done when the lamb is as young as possible (to keep pain to a minimum) using a rubber ring with a special applicator. The Code of Welfare has recently been updated (May 2021) and now states that lambs tails must kept long enough to cover the bottom of the vulva in girls and the equivalent length in boy lambs.
Calf horn buds need to be removed (this is called disbudding) at about two weeks of age. Kid goats need to be disbudded even earlier than this so it is probably best to discuss this with the person you got your animal from, or your vet.
All animals MUST be given effective pain relief at the time of disbudding, regardless how old it is. This means, at a minimum, local anaesthetic must be used, but it is also a good idea to provide longer acting pain relief (such as a long acting anti-inflammatory) to keep your pet comfortable.
Talk to and pet your animal. The friendlier they are, the better they will perform for you at Ag Day.
Start off by fitting your animal with a halter or collar. Once they seem comfortable with this you can begin teaching them to walk with a lead. Your animal should be trained to walk on your right, with its head/shoulder level with you – you don’t want to be pulling them and you don’t want them to be pulling you!
Don’t let the lead drag on the ground, and never wrap it around your hand as you could get really hurt if they suddenly start running.
Stopping should be slow and smooth, without tugging sharply on the lead. Practice standing still, and only allowing the animal to move forward again when you are ready. This is important so that the judge has time to look at your animal when you go to Ag Day.
Once you are happily walking straight, start practising turning. You should lead on the outside of the curve, and the turn needs to be quite large, to begin with.
Training should be fun for both you and your animal. Make sure to train every day, but not for so long that either of you get bored or tired.
Remember you are on display as well, and judges will be looking for signs that you are comfortable with, and care for your animal.
A few days before calf club make sure your animal is looking clean and tidy. You can use a cover to help keep it clean. Don’t forget to keep training.
On the day, make sure you have all the gear you need:
- A water bucket so they can drink during the day. – This is very important!
- Something to feed your pet e.g. meal/pellets and a feeding container, bottle of milk
- A cloth and/or brush
- Clean halter and lead rope.
Check out our guides to caring for your Ag Day pet
Abomasal bloat is a serious and life-threatening condition that affects approximately 1 in 3 bottle-fed lambs and kids. The best way to prevent this devastating condition is to feed your lambs and kids with yoghurtised or soured milk for every feed from 5 days of age...
Lambs And Kids Most of the lambs and kids that become available for Calf Club are orphans. Usually the farmer will nurse them through the first few days and then they can be passed over to you. Make sure the animal is healthy with no diarrhoea and has been fed...
Feeding For the first three or four days of its life, your calf should drink colostrum. Right from the start, your calf will need feeding twice a day – in the morning before school and in the afternoon after school. If you live on a dairy farm you can of course get...
Info sheets & how-to guides
It’s often not only what you do, but also how you do it that’s important, that’s why it’s always a good idea to have a guide handy. Check out our printable info sheets below and ensure you are taking the best approach.