Livestock auction numbers are up

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 Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Seth Newman represents his hog on the auction block at the Junior Fair Livestock Sale. The Helping Hands Happy Hearts 4-H Club member earned a $260 premium bid for his animal. Tim Beathard is the auctioneer.

The numbers are in.

According to Kevin Roseberry, bookkeeper for the Madison County Junior Livestock Committee, this year’s fair auctions brought in about $7,000 more in premium bids than in 2006.

Approximately 190 buyers—representing businesses, organizations and families—spent a total of $140,125 on animals exhibited by 4-H and FFA youths at this year’s county fair. The sales took place on July 13-14.

How a Jr. Fair livestock sale works

No matter what happens in the livestock auction, a Junior Fair exhibitor gets the going “market price” for his or her animal. The market price is what the animal packing companies pay for the actual animals. This year, the packing companies spent a total of $71,685 on hogs, feeder calves, steers, goats, rabbits, poultry and sheep at the Madison County Fair.

The bid an exhibitor receives in the auction is called a “premium” and is separate from the market price. A premium is essentially a bonus on top of the market price. The high majority of auction participants do not keep the animals, and therefore only pay the premium.

Each year, a few top bidders do opt to have the animals butchered for their personal consumption. In these cases, the bidders pay the premium and the market price. This year, a handful of bidders took home five hogs and four steers.

General review of this year’s sale

For the second consecutive year, the number of animals up for sale at the auctions was higher than the previous year. Last year, 434 animals were on the auction block. This year, 475 were sold.

The species with the biggest increases in numbers were hogs (172 in 2006 vs. 189 in 2007), goats (33 vs. 40), and sheep (129 vs. 145).

Otherwise, Roseberry said, the sales went much as they have in the past. The changes he has observed have happened at other fairs.

“Some of the other fairs I heard from this year had a lot more buyers going together as groups to buy animals,” he said, mentioning Fayette County specifically. “We have a few buyer groups, but not a lot.”

It’s an option local businesses might consider, he said.

“By going in with other buyers, it would be a way to allow businesses who haven’t traditionally gone to the auction to support the youth of the county in a cost-effective manner.”

The 2007 sales breakdown

The final breakdown by species for the 2007 sales is as follows. Premiums, market prices and boosts are listed:

• Steers—A total of $7,275 in premiums was paid to 15 exhibitors for an average of $485 per animal. (The market total was $15,601.70.)

• Feeder calves—A total of $11,925 in premiums was paid to 31 exhibitors for an average of $384.68 per animal. (The market total was $14,838.30.)

• Hogs—A total of $62,045 in premiums was paid to 189 exhibitors for an average of $328.28 per animal. (The market total was $22,460.29.)

• Poultry—A total of $5,370 in premiums was paid to 43 exhibitors for an average of $124.88 per project. (The market total was $197.60.)

• Goats—A total of $6,775 in premiums was paid to 40 exhibitors for an average of $169.38 per animal. (The market total was $2,065.38.)

• Rabbits—A total of $795 in premiums was paid to three exhibitors for an average of $265 per project. (The market total was $30.)

• Cheese trays (Dairy)—A total of $2,500 in premiums was paid to nine exhibitors for an average of $277.78 per exhibitor.

After each species sale, with the excep-tion of dairy, some bidders donated “boosts” to increase the average premium per animal a certain amount, increase the premium on certain animals, or increase the minimum amount each exhibitor earned.

Stanley Electric Co. boosted the premium averages for all species, while Farm Bureau boosted hog, goat and sheep averages, Madison County Hospital boosted hog averages, and the Cress Family boosted sheep averages.

Across the species, including individual animal boosts, the boosts totaled $5,646, up by about 10 percent over 2006.

Giving Back

Junior Fair livestock sale money doesn’t flow just one way. Not only do bidders pay exhibitors; every year, some exhibitors then donate part of their proceeds to charitable causes. The total amount youngsters donated this year was $4,111, up from $2,892 in 2006. Among the beneficiaries were the Chris Kelly Scholarship Fund, Bill Green Building Fund, American Cancer Society, ALS Association (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Ronald McDonald House, and the Madison County 4-H Endowment Fund.

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