For 16-year-old Brandon Becker of Marietta, selling his 529-pound dairy steer is not about the money.
“It takes a lot of work, and it’s not enough to just throw food in their pan and call it a champion,” Becker said.
The Junior Fair Large Animal Sale took place at the Washington County Fair livestock pavilion Tuesday evening, and this year featured entries for dairy feeder steer, market lambs and market beef cows.
“You have to work with them every day, and make sure they’re well kept,” Becker said.
Becker, who is a member of the Churchtown Shining Stars 4-H club and is in his fifth year raising animals for the fair, sold his steer for $2,000.
“We never really know exactly what they’ll go for, but the kids always have a good idea of what it will take to break even,” said Tracy Waite, educator with the local Ohio State University Extension Service office.
A total of 38 dairy feeder steer were auctioned off Tuesday evening, along with 84 market lambs and 21 market beef cows.
“It feels awesome,” said 10-year-old Morgan Antill of Beverly, one of the youngest 4-Hers to win the reserve champion award for her dairy steer, named Buds. “They’re really fun to play with, so I plan to keep doing this.”
Antill’s reserve champion steer went for $1,800, weighing in at 503 pounds.
Most fair participants said they just hope to at least break even when selling their animals, but use profit to go toward raising animals for future fairs.
“It’s expensive, especially the feed, and you always have to work to make sure they’re fed and watered all the time,” Antill said.
Becker said he would just be happy to not lose any money on his steer’s sale, as packers must pay $1.71 per pound for steer entries.
“I’ve worked a lot in the past on friends’ and my cousins’ farms and helped out whenever I can, so I’ve been doing this a while,” Becker said.
Vincent native Aidan Woodruff, 10, received the champion award for his 1,309-pound market beef cow, making it his second consecutive champion win.
“His name is Braxton, like the Ohio State player,” Woodruff said. “I like to show him off.”
His father, Jeff, said raising the cow was a lot of work, but it has paid off.
“He gets fed every morning, rinsed and blown dry, and at the start of May we stick him in a cooler so his fur grows faster,” Jeff said.
Though many dairy steer are resold for their milk, market beef cows and lambs are often sent straight to a local processor after being auctioned off.
“They’re most often sold for their meat, and usually end up in Kroger or some grocery store,” Waite said.
Kesselyn Bigley, 11, of Lower Salem, had double the work for the large animal sale this year, as she waited her turn while tending to her female and male market lambs, Twilight and Limp, who both received premier exhibitor and Whispering Willow Sheep Breeders Awards.
“I work with them and walk them every evening and set them for each day,” Bigley said.
Now in her third year of raising animals, she said she has no plans to stop.
“I love working with the animals and spending time with them,” she said.
Along with a good turnout at the animal sale, which carried on throughout the night Tuesday to fit in all 143 animals, fair officials reported fairly average attendance at the fair throughout Labor Day weekend.
“Sunday was down quite a bit, we think because of all the rain, but Saturday and Monday’s attendance were both up a bit,” said Fair Board Treasurer Sandra Hickey. “So we think in all it’s evened out and it’s been about average.”
Attendance on Saturday was about 6,600 and on Monday, attendance reached 5,738, up more than 1,000 from last year’s 4,651.
“I think that was because the (Dukes of) Hazzard guys were here, and that was something new, so it brought in some more people for Monday,” Hickey said.
Junior Fair large animal sales
Dairy Feeder Steer
- Champion: Brandon Becker, Marietta, $2,000.
- Reserve Champion: Morgan Antill, Beverly, $1,800.
- Champion: Erin Hague, Marietta, $1,500.
- Reserve Champion: Cole Welch, Little Hocking, $1,800.
Market Beef Cows
- Champion: Aidan Woodruff, Vincent.
- Reserve Champion: Zachariah Henthorn, Fleming.
Source: Washington County Large Animal Committee.