Premium sale sets up youngsters for future 4-H projects

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Farm Forum

To ensure 4-H’ers have the funds for next year’s projects, animals shown at this year’s Brown County Fair were auctioned off at the 4-H premium sale on Aug. 22.

During the auction, “buyers” pay premiums for animals as recognition for the effort the youth put into their livestock projects.

The exhibitors get to keep their animals and the money from the premium sale.

Each 4-H’er is allowed to pick as many as two animals to lead through the show ring during the auction. Animals eligible for the sale include beef, sheep, swine, dairy, dairy goats, meat goats and poultry.

Brothers Travis and Daniel Sharp of Bath earned premiums for their 4-H dairy cattle on Aug. 22 after showing the animals at the fair. Daniel is 18. Travis is 15.

The boys’ mother, Gretchen Sharp, said the buyers at the sale are bidding to reward 4-H’ers for their hard work.

“The buyers, they’re just being generous to the kids and providing a premium for them because they’ve worked so hard all summer with their animals. So the kids are actually taking the animals they’ve been working on all summer into the ring to exhibit them for the buyers to buy the premium on them,” Gretchen said.

She said buyers select what animals to bid on based on their relationships with the 4-H’ers family.

“This isn’t a traditional sale where they are buying animals,” Gretchen said.

Daniel said the sale isn’t the most hectic event during the fair, but it is something to look forward to at the end of a long week.

“It is a really good thing, and I appreciate what the sponsors do. This is the final sendoff for the 4-H season,” Daniel.

Thirteen-year-old Tessa Erdmann of Groton shows meat goats in 4-H and had two of her goats registered for the premium sale. She expected to get as much as $300 per animal.

That money will go toward her project for next year, which includes showing meat goats and possibly beef cattle.

“You get money for your projects next year to keep going, to purchase animals and to keep showing them,” Erdmann said.

Fellow 4-H’er Cassandra Townsend, 15, of Andover also shows meat goats and relies on the premium auction to help purchase more goats for future shows.

“You don’t spend as much for next year,” Townsend said.

While some participants buy animals from local auctions or sales, others choose from their home herds. That’s often what the Sharps said they do.

Daniel said he chooses dairy heifers based on traits that promote longevity in the ability to reproduce.

“Tall, but a little bit finer-boned because you don’t want that excess body. You want all their water and feed intake to go to milk production,” he explained.

“You’re always looking for structural correctness with any species you show. You want to have an animal that will last and produce. If it’s a breeding animal, you want it to have longevity,” Gretchen added.

For beef cattle, muscle structure and density are important traits because they reveal how much meat the animal will produce when taken to market, Daniel said.

For next year’s projects, new animals will be purchased at the beginning of the calendar year, Gretchen said.

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