4-H and Youth

Lamb Tail Docking Policy

Last November, I met with a group of faculty from Extension and the Davis College to review and discuss our policy regarding the docking of lamb tails in 4-H projects. Since then, I’ve also consulted many of our experienced agriculture faculty and statewide stakeholders. After much thought, I see no clear and convincing evidence that a change in policy is warranted. In addition to our discussion, I considered:

  1. While there may not be an abundance of research on the subject, there is a study suggesting a cause and effect relationship between tail length and rectal prolapse. When in doubt, we should give preference to even the slightest advantage for animal welfare.
  2. The American Veterinary Medical Association supports our position: https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Docking-of-Lambs-Tails.aspx “Lambs’ tails may be docked for cleanliness and to minimize fly strike, but cosmetic, excessively short tail docking can lead to an increased incidence of rectal prolapse and is unacceptable for the welfare of the lamb. We recommend that lambs’ tails be docked at the level of the distal end of the caudal tail fold and at the earliest age practicable. Because tail docking causes pain and discomfort, the AVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible.”
  3. In an e-mail last August, the National 4-H Headquarters endorsed an AVMA video in which Dr. Snyder state “Because of its consequences, however, the AVMA finds ultra-short docking of lambs’ tails unacceptable for lamb welfare.”

Therefore, our policy remains in effect and Extension personnel are expected to enforce the policy as trained.

Let me also address a rumor that suggests some personnel changes will result in the policy being changed in 2015. While I can’t speak for future administrations and Extension faculty, I find a policy change highly unlikely without substantial evidence from respected research institutions.

Sincerely, Steve

Steven C. Bonanno
Interim Director
West Virginia University Extension Service


Youth in Ag

The WVU Extension Service maintains a 4-H youth in agriculture program to strengthen the capacity of families and youth to achieve life-long learning and productivity.

WV Dairy Cattle Show and Festival
4-H Goat Project Information
4-H Poultry Project Information

Learn more about Youth Agriculture.

See more at Youth in Agriculture Online Resources

National FFA web site


4-H Shooting Sports

West Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports. West Virginia has produced some of the best rifle shooters in the world.

What is Shooting Sports?

The West Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports (SS) Program encompasses the goals of volunteer leadership, capacity building for youth and families, and environmental stewardship. The program is designed to:

  • give youth thorough safe instruction and training in the use of firearms (muzzleloading, air pistol, air rifle including small bore, and shotgun), archery equipment, and wildlife conservation;
  • enhance self-confidence, personal development, responsibility, and sportsmanship;
  • create an appreciation and understanding of natural resources; and
  • provide volunteer instructors safe and proper instructional techniques and information on how to plan and manage shooting and conservation clubs.

The West Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports Program teaches young people between the ages of 9 and 21 the safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment, in addition to instruction in wildlife conservation. 4-H Adult Volunteer Leaders are trained and certified to be positive role models and mentors for youth in the 4-H Shooting Sports Program.

Should you, or maybe someone you know, in Youth Agriculture or 4-H Shooting Sports, or be interested in participating as a volunteer instructor, please give call Jean Woloshuk, West Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports Program Coordinator at (304) 293-2708