Threemile, Morrow County 4-H kick off 2023 Dairy Heifer Program

On Friday, Feb. 3, the Threemile Canyon Farms team welcomed 15 Morrow County 4-Hers and their families to the farm to kick off the 2023 Dairy Heifer Program. Now in its fifth year, the program matches dairy heifers with participating students to take home, raise and care for, providing each student with a unique learning opportunity.

Throughout the seven-month program, 4-H students and their families attend regular showing and grooming clinics and have routine at-home check-ins with Threemile veterinarians and nutritionists. Participants are also introduced to other aspects of animal care at Threemile and the dairy industry such as animal welfare and nutrition, management, and veterinary science.

Macy Goodwin, Morrow County 4-H Program coordinator, said she’s excited about the upcoming year. “This is a great project and a great opportunity for the youth of Morrow County to learn about the dairy industry and everything it has to offer,” Goodwin said.

Jeff Wendler, DVM and Threemile Director of Livestock Operations, created the program in partnership with Morrow County 4-H, after he learned about strong member interest in dairy operations.

“The Dairy Heifer Program is one way Threemile invests in young people in our community, as we know the future of the agriculture industry lies in their hands,” Wendler said. “It is designed to educate youth and community members about the dairy industry, specifically giving 4-H participants the opportunity to raise and care for a heifer themselves.”

To be accepted in the program, students must participate in an interview process to demonstrate they can care for the heifer, have transportation for the animal and are committed to completing the program. At pick-up day, students attend an educational seminar to discuss expectations and receive care instructions. Then, the heifers were weighed and loaded into trailers, off to their new homes for the next seven months. The program culminates at the Morrow County Fair, where each participant has the opportunity to show their animal in the ring before returning it to Threemile.

Wendler said he’s proud of the kids and families that participate each year. “It is rewarding and inspirational to be part of the learning and growing the kids do as they move through the project with their families,” Wendler said. "We are grateful to be participate alongside our friends and neighbors."

What do Morrow County 4-H families say about the program?

Parent Rachel Archer has had kids participate in the program since its inception. “The support and encouragement that Threemile gives the kids is why we have participated in this program for five years,” Archer said.

First-time program participant, Saul Madrigal, said “I am excited to be a part of this program because I really like animals and it looks really fun!” 

And, Ashley Lindsay, second year member parent said, “Claire fell in love with the heifer as well as everyone involved in the program. It’s been a fantastic experience learning to care for an animal as well as seeing people involved and helping for the benefit of the whole program!”