Animals come from across Midwest for fair

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staff, Gazette
Friday, July 27, 2012

— Today’s Meat Animal Sale at the Rock County 4-H Fair will be one of the final stops for roughly 550 barrows, lambs and steers up for sale.

The livestock arrives from destinations across the county, state and region. Some animals are raised on farms run by exhibitors’ family members, while others are purchased from breeders. Exhibitors that live in town often turn to friends and classmates from rural areas for places to buy or raise their animals.

About 25 percent of the beef animals are bred and raised on the exhibitors’ own farms, said fair beef Superintendent Austin Arndt. The rest come from breeders.

Cade Austin’s grand champion steer was bred and raised on his family’s beef operation in Milton. Meanwhile, Harmony 4-H member Rylee Ochs bought her reserve grand champion steer from Jones Show Cattle, a Gridley, Ill., breeder that specializes in selling animals for exhibit at fairs and other competitions. She raised it on her family’s beef operation in Milton.

Ochs said her show cattle are treated differently than the other cattle on her family’s feedlot operation. Her steer, for example, was kept in what is known as a cooler, an air-conditioned shelter.

“It keeps him comfortable and keeps him eating,” she said. “We raise a lot of cattle, and the ones outside of the cooler just don’t eat as much when it’s hot.”

Noah Morris of Clinton FFA purchased his grand champion barrow from breeder Curt Watson of Edgerton. Morris said he has been purchasing his fair swine from Watson for the past six years.

“There’s very few commercial hog operations left in the county,” said fair swine Superintendent Mark Gunn. “Most of the hogs we have coming in to the fair come from show breeders. They (show breeders) are all over the Midwest.”

Milton FFA’s Jessica Duoss, who had this year’s grand champion lamb, said she has been buying her fair sheep from the same breeder for the past several years. Duoss had the reserve champion lamb in 2006 and grand champion barrow in 2008 and 2010.

Hailey Gestrich of Plymouth 4-H won both the grand champion heifer and the reserve grand champion heifer in the Rock County bred-and-owned class.

Animals shown in the bred-and-owned class must be owned by the exhibitor, the exhibitor’s immediate family or the exhibitor’s family farm name, according to fair rules.

The purpose of the class is to encourage exhibitors to “show and promote females that were bred in Rock County in hopes that our youth will become more involved in beef cattle production,” according to the Rock County 4-H Fair rulebook.

Hailey’s grandmother, Chris, has been the beef project leader for 28 years. She and her husband, Steve, run a beef operation on Stuart Road in the town of Plymouth.

“We all work together as a family to get ready for the fair,” Chris Gestrich said. “We’re very proud of the work we do.”

Last updated: 5:03 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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