4-H and Youth

WVU Extension Service Tail Docking Length for Youth Shows

This policy applies to 4-H and FFA breeding sheep and market lamb projects and the exhibition of these animals by youth at fairs and shows in West Virginia.


Download the official policy (PDF)

To keep an accurate record and to be able to verify lambs, Extension personnel are asked to report all lambs disqualified. Report any violation online via the Extension Reporting System. Please note: To make the application most usable for agents across the state, please report the State Fair EID as the Primary ID Type whenever possible. Scrapie Tag information should be reported for the Secondary ID. Animals should be reported within 24 hours of being disqualified. Policy questions/comments should be directed to Jean Woloshuk, Jennifer Williams and database questions/comments should be directed to the Extension Technology Office. Sheep producers and youth show officials support a change in youth (4-H and FFA) project and show rules. As organizations that promote educational programming with life skills attainment, it is prudent to exemplify ethical treatment of animals and utilize quality management practices.

Proper Use of the DeTail Device: With the lamb standing square, place the DeTail Device under the tail, with the tail contained in the trough. Ensure that the flange is in firm contact with the pin bones, the trough is firmly against the base of the tail, and the barrel of the device is held level. Use disinfectant on the device after measuring each sheep. If the end of the tail meets at least the edge of the 0.7-inch recessed line closest to the lamb, it is deemed to have met the minimum standard. This device should not be used as a guide for docking location. It is still advised to dock all lambs at the distal end of the caudal fold (American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Sheep Industry (ASI), etc). Rule Enforcement Protocol: It is recommended that enforcement of the 0.7-inch minimum standard be done at the weigh-in of animals at the show by a three-person committee. One person should be designated to measure all lambs. If the initial measurement identifies a lamb as below the standard, the two other show officials will each make one measurement of the suspect animal. All three measurement officials must agree that the lamb is below the 0.7-inch minimum before the lamb is disqualified from exhibition. More information about the DeTail Device and background information about the lamb tail docking rule is available online. You may want to download and reproduce a copy of Using the DeTail Device to Address the Tail-docking Issue in Show Lambs for use at shows.