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Galt Herald

All the Livestock That’s Fit to Sell

May 29, 2024 02:43PM ● By Matthew Malone

Herald 4-H’s Paige Otto sells her supreme champion market lamb at the Sacramento County Fair Junior Livestock Auction. The lamb sold for $4,000. Photo by Matthew Malone

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GALT, CA (MPG) - Months of hard work for Galt’s agriculture students paid off on May 26 as they sold hand-raised livestock at the Sacramento County Fair Junior Livestock Auction.  
The auction buildings at Cal Expo were abuzz with activity on auction day, as exhibitors prepared their animals for their moment in the spotlight, spectators and bidders milled around for a good view of the auction ring, and auctioneers pattered through hundreds of entries from across the region.
Before the auction, judges evaluated the animals based on traits such as musculature, fat distribution and bone structure. At the fair, the best animal in an overall division is named the supreme champion, followed by the reserve supreme champion, and then grand champions and reserve grand champions in the FFA and 4-H divisions, as well as breed-specific awards.
Local students whose animals were named supreme champion were Galt FFA’s Avery Sperling with a market goat and Herald 4-H’s Paige Otto with a market lamb. Galt FFA’s Giovanni Egger brought a rabbit that was named reserve supreme champion.
In Liberty Ranch FFA, Bella Dulinsky’s market lamb was named FFA grand champion. Bringing FFA reserve grand champion animals were Galt FFA’s Max Machado with a market goat, and Mackenzie Gordon Tiderencel with a market hog; and Liberty Ranch’s Taylor Klein with a market lamb.
In the afternoon, Liberty Ranch FFA students Eduardo Estrada and Dylan Andrews were waiting at the chapter’s pens for their turn to sell their market goats.
This was Estrada’s first year raising an animal for the auction but he has previously raised cattle, goats and sheep on his own. Estrada said the experience has been mostly similar, except that he has needed special feed and nutrients to help his auction goat build muscle and fat.
In his third year raising goats for the fair, Andrews said that participants “learn a lot of responsibility because you have an animal that you have to care for for five months.”
Asked what they looked forward to in the ring, Andrews spoke for both students: “I’m hoping for a big paycheck.”
Among the bidders was Sacramento County Supervisor Pat Hume, who said he planned to bid on several lambs and goats. He selects students based on letters that some sent him before the auction, as well as by checking with local FFAs and 4-Hs to learn which students might need some financial help.
“I like to support these programs because it teaches kids responsibility and character and, hopefully, a little bit about agriculture so they see the value in putting food on our plates,” Hume said.
Herald 4-H’s Blake Boyd discussed the different personalities of her lambs, Ranny and Lizzo. One of her lambs was named 4-H champion in the speck division.
“Danny’s very friendly. He likes to just come up to people and be around people, and she doesn’t really like to be around people. She’s kind of jumpy when people are around her,” said Blake, who is the fourth generation in her family to show animals at the county fair.
Randy Barnes, one of the parents who assists with Herald 4-H, emphasized the resources that exhibitors put into raising their animals.
“This hopefully pays off for them because a lot of these kids have upwards of 200 hours of work in their lambs, their cattle, their projects before they get here. … That doesn’t count the cost of the feed, the cost of the animal,” Barnes said. “A lot of people don’t realize how many hours they actually put in getting ready for this.”
He noted the emotional connection that many students develop with the animals they raise, which can lead to a bittersweet feeling on auction day, as the animals are set to be taken away and slaughtered for meat.
Students “have to realize now they (animals) are sold for consumption,” Barnes said, “and that’s why we raise livestock, to keep humanity alive.”