Saturday, December 2, 2006

Revised Maryland 4-H Tail Docking Policy

Following the past year's show season, the Maryland 4-H Youth Development Program, with leadership from the 4-H Animal Sciences Curriculum Committee, has reviewed the tail docking policy. The Curriculum Committee has conferred with numerous staff and faculty, volunteers and youth, Extension faculty in others states, and with the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association. A state-wide listening session was held in Timonium in early November with over 70 participants.

The current policy will continue with several amendments. Breeding sheep will be treated separately from the current policy, and there will be an appeal process for market lambs.

2007 Market Lamb Policy
"Market Lambs exhibited after January 1 of the current calendar year will be accepted for 4-H participation only if tails are not docked shorter than the level of the distal end of the caudal tail fold. Market Lambs that are properly docked will have a minimum tail length of 0.7 inches at 4-H Activities, 4-H weigh-ins and taggings, and 4-H Shows, measured by the approved measurement device, which will be placed against the base of the tail and pin bones."

Appeal Process
If a market lamb fails by the committee’s ruling, the youth and one adult (family member, legal guardian, 4-H leader or FFA advisor) will have five (5) minutes to use the approved measuring devise and attempt to prove to the committee that the animal meets the 0.7 inch standard. If this is not accomplished, the market lamb is disqualified. If the youth can prove to the committee within the 5 minute limit that the market lamb does pass the 0.7 inch standard, the animal will be permitted to exhibit at that particular 4-H show, activity, etc. At this point, there is NO further appeal process. The decision of the committee is FINAL.

Breeding sheep
Breeding sheep will be treated separately from the current policy:

"Breeding sheep shall have NO evidence of surgical docking, prolapses, purse strings, sutures, etc. If any of these are evident in breeding sheep, the breeding sheep in question will be sent home immediately by the Extension Educator, Sheep Superintendent, or the appropriately deemed individual. There is NO appeal process for breeding sheep. "

The 4-H Youth Development Program in Maryland will strive diligently to apply the policy and rules fairly and consistently in all venues and with all youth.

Questions regarding Maryland's 4-H tail docking policy should be directed to J. Willard Lemaster, 4-H Animal Specialist, by e-mail at or telephone at (301) 314-7187.

Source: Dr. Richard Bryne, 4-H Program Leader, Maryland Cooperative Extension, December 1, 2006.

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