County Fair Jr. Livestock Auction Winners
Jazmin Olvera, 17, Sespe 4-H, raised Romona, a 264 pound pig that was awarded the coveted Grand Champion Market Swine/4-H Champion.
By Bob Crum — Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Story and photos by Bob Crum - Part 1
Erin Berrington, 13, Piru 4-H, raised Dallas, a 1,278 pound market steer that won the coveted Grand Champion Steer. At auction, Dallas sold for $6.50 a pound.
Samantha Point, 13, is with the Bardsdale 4-H Club. Samanthaa raised a Chianina Steer that weighed inat 1,257 pounds. This hefty animal was awarded 4-H Reserve Champion Market Steer. At auction, the steer was sold for $3.50 a pound.
Julissa Montes, 13, Piru 4-H, raised a pig she named Viona that won Bred & Fed Champion/4-H Reserve Champion. At auction, high bidder Wood-Claeyssens Foundation bought Viona for $8 a pound.
Jeffery Mcguire, Fillmore FFA, raised a market steer named Dipper that weighed in at 1,356 pounds. Moreover, Dipper was awarded the title: overall Reserve Champion Steer. In the auction ring, Jeffrey’s efforts rewarded him with $7.00 a pound.
After all these years, I should know better. At an auction... don't scratch your nose or rub your right eye unless you intend to buy! Thank goodness I was outbid or today I'd be buying hay for a 1,200 pound steer or shopping for a ranch!
It's impossible to attend the Jr. Livestock Auction at the Ventura County Fair and not feel the excitement. The William P. Clark Pavilion was packed with anxious bidders at the ready. The kids were equally anxious wondering what amount the highest bid for their animal would be.
One by one the parade of animals begins... market lamb, goats, steer, swine and even chickens and turkeys. Takes a very keen and trained eye to distinguish a quality difference between one goat and another or one pig and another. Fact is, it doesn't matter. A pigs rump might be a tad lean but supporting the youngster is the bidders intention. The bacon is insignificant. So, within an hour an observer quickly realizes that there really isn't any rhyme or reason for the bid amounts. The fact that the FFA or 4-H youngster is building a college fund is justification to bid with gusto. Accordingly, from the first bid to the last, giddy bidders did their best to fulfill every kids hopes. Based on the kid's jubilant smiles, they succeeded.
Here are this years Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion winners from Fillmore, Piru and Bardsdale.
In addition to her achievement, this was an exceptional, life-changing year for Yazmine. Olivia turned Yazmine's life in an entirely different direction. “Olivia got hurt in the beginning of the year and all along I was... umm... indecisive about what career I was going to go into,” Yazmine said. “But raising Olivia back to health actually prompted me to make the decision to become a large animal veterinarian.” Interesting. “Yes, it was quite an impact,” she added.
“Olivia sustained a knee injury that prevented her from walking,” Yazmine said. “Wasn't sure that she was even going to make it to the fair. But with a vets help, and medications... from that experience I knew I wanted to become a large animal vet,” Yazmine said.
Any other special experiences raising Olivia? “Not really,” Yazmine said, adding, “being my fifth pig I have a lot of experience. Experiencing the responsibilities of maintaining animals and dealing with someone who is not human... for me to be able to help them is great.”
Issues raising an injured animal? “We did morning and night feedings. Normally I do free feedings but this year because she wasn't walking very well, I came out and fed her twice a day. And brought her feed pan to her face to make sure she ate... and all that good stuff.”
Raising an animal, any large animal, is a lot of work. Ever wake up and pondered going back to sleep? “That happens all the time, even here at the fair,” Yazmine said, adding, “you don't want to get up but you have a mouth to feed so you have to get up and go down there (the pen).”
Your support group? “I had a really good adviser, Joe Ricards, (Fillmore High) who definitely has put so much time into our animals. And my pig breeder Leonard Cruz of Moorpark. He's been such a great help. I would not have been able to raise her, or any of my pigs, without their help.
Yazmine is currently attending Ventura College. Afterward? “I'm a little indecisive about what college I'm going to attend but most likely going out of state... maybe Texas A & M.”
In the meantime, besides her current studies, Yazmine has other activities. “One of my friends is a leader of a 4-H group and she's asked me to help her so I'm probably also going to be a 4-H leader.
Julissa Montes, 13, Piru 4-H, raised a pig she named Viona that won Bred & Fed Champion/ 4-H Reserve Champion. At the auction, high bidder Wood-Claeyssens Foundation bought Viona for $8.00/pound.
This was not the first pig Julissa raised. About last year? “I won first in my class but didn't place overall.” And her reaction about her pig's championship? “I'm really excited, really happy, because I worked with her a lot.” Such as? “She was really nice, really calm but in the beginning she wasn't a good walker.” The biggest problem? “She liked to fight a lot,” Julissa said , adding, “she was really dominant with the other female pigs but eventually she got over the fighting.”
Was Viona's behavior unusual? “No, not really,” Julissa said “a lot of pigs are like that. There's at least one dominant pig in every eight pigs.” Who knew?
What about Viona's diet? “We had to hold her back a little bit because she might have gone overweight.” Was it close? “Yes,” said Julissa. Was her weight closely monitored? “Yes, we weighed her every Monday from the day we got her to the date of the fair,” said Julissa. Does the diet need to change according to weight gains or lack of? “Yes, a lot of times, chimed Julissa. The feed is pretty much the same but supplements are added according to how the pig is maturing. Julissa explained that some supplements bulk the muscle, some help add weight. Naturally, pigs like to eat... you know... like pigs. Besides regular chow, “she likes eggs, avocados, and other goodies,” Julissa said.
How about exercise? “You're supposed to walk them every day for 30 to 45 minutes,” said Julissa. Do you? “Yes.” Every day? “Yes.” Sounds like raising a pig is a lot of work. “It is, but it's fun... really fun.”
Another pig next year? “Yes well”... me and my mom have a deal. When I got to a hundred pounds I could raise a steer or heifer but I'm not there yet so until I get to a hundred pounds I'm going to do a pig.” Julissa's current weight is a mere 87 pounds.
Julissa isn't in any hurry to change what she raises. “First I'm going to see what I can do with the pigs... see if I can get a higher placement. Each year I'm progressing, going from sixth to first to Reserve Champion so hopefully next year I can get first overall (Grand Champion).”
Samantha Point, 13, is with the Bardsdale 4-H club. Samantha raised a Chianina steer that weighed in at 1,257 pounds. This hefty animal was awarded 4-H Reserve Champion market steer. At auction, her steer was bought for $3.50/pound. Last year, loyal Gazette readers will remember that Samantha won Reserve Champion Breeding Heifer.
Next year? “Hopefully I'm going to show another steer or maybe, depending on how school goes.
Besides raising a steer, Samantha also raised a heifer. So, raising two big animals kept you busy? “Yes, but I also had sports and other things to do,” said Samantha. Sports? “I played softball, volleyball, and basketball.” And the favorite? “Volleyball,” she said without hesitation.
Any interesting experiences regarding raising the two animals? “Yes, I got to buy my own steer and heifer this year... on line,” Samantha proudly said.
Online? Really? “Yes.” Such as? “Willoughby Sales and Breeders World," Samantha said. Good to know.
Samantha's support group includes her sister and her grandparents who own a ranch in Lockwood Valley where Samantha's heifer and steer romped and frolicked. Perhaps such a life is the unmentioned secret of raising a champion animal.
Erin Berrington, 13, Piru 4-H, raised Dallas, a 1,278 pound market steer that won the coveted Grand Champion steer. At the auction, Dallas was bought for $6.50/pound.
Why the name 'Dallas? “I'm a Dallas Cowboy fan”, said Erin. Makes perfect sense.
Raising Dallas was no easy feat. As Erin tells it: “When he was younger, he was really hard... he wanted to get away... he wanted just go run but as he got older he was getting really calm and better and then I worked with him a lot. Once we got to the Fair he was really calm and I got to walk him by myself without him going psycho.” Very good. Not good having to deal with a 1,278 pound psycho steer.
But what does the phrase 'working with him' entail? It's working with his feet, setting him up and getting him used to a chain halter and the stick on his stomach and his back and stuff like that.” All of which has to do with how the steer is shown in the auction ring. Presentation is important.
From where did Erin buy the steer to raise? “Silva Cattle of Kingsburg, CA,” Erin said. A quick visit to the Silva Cattle Company's website reveals a long list of their cattle winning championships. Perhaps that's Erin's secret.
Last year, Erin's steer won Reserve Grand Champion. Not good enough. This year, winning overall Grand Champion is proof that perseverance - and goo animal genes - produces grand results.
Next year? “Another steer,'' Erin promptly said. But why not a goat, or lamb, or chickens? “I raised a lamb and that was really hard,” she said, adding, “pigs are just too smelly.”
Jackpot events was a term that I heard a lot for the first time this year. A jackpot show is where the kids show their animals for awards and accumulate points. Shows can be for various animals or for one particular animal such as steer or goat or swine etc. Erin participated in a few jackpot shows such as one in Porterville.
Erin's future plans? “College to study criminology,” said Erin. “I watch a lot of the crime investigation programs and it makes me want to be a crime investigator.” Given Erin's track record with raising livestock, criminals are doomed!
Jeffrey Mcguire may be deaf but that does not in any way deter him from winning championships. Jeffery, Fillmore FFA, raised a market steer named Dipper that weighed in at 1,356 pounds. Moreover, Dipper was awarded the title: overall Reserve Champion Steer. In the auction ring, Jeffrey's efforts rewarded him with $7.00 a pound.
Last year? Jeffrey won Reserve FFA Champion for market steer. The difference between last year's steer and this year's? More muscle Jeffrey explained. A quick glance and I agreed that Dipper is indeed very muscular!
Of course there are always issues raising such large animal... right? “No,” said Jeffery, no problems.” “But,” he added, “he was lazy. Very difficult to get him to want to walk.” I'm sure that there were other issues but Jeffrey is not one to elaborate much taking everything in stride... so to speak.
And what about the auction money? “Reinvest,” Jeffrey said. So Jeffrey will soon be busy shopping for a steer. Considering his tenacity to win, it would not be surprising to see Jeffrey's next steer win overall Grand Champion... the “reserve” moniker removed. Is the fact that Jeffrey gets his steers from a ranch in Iowa his secret formula for winning? We'll know next year!
Later, Jennifer McGuire, Jeffrey's mother, mentioned that Jeffrey was busy in recent months. “Jeffrey jackpots throughout the year,” said Jennifer, “starting as early as November and showing all the way through August with only a couple months off. With this year's steer, Jeffrey has won five Grand Champions, a bunch of seconds and too many showmanship awards to count.” “As it stands,” Jennifer added, “Jeffrey is the number two beef showman in the entire state of California right now.” A remarkable track record for a remarkable young man.
Jazmin Olvera, 17, Sespe 4-H, raised Ramona, a 264 pound pig that was awarded the coveted Grand Champion Market Swine/4-H Champion. Irresistible to say: That's bringing home the bacon in a big way.
First year? “No,” said Jazmin, “raised pigs for four years.” First win? “No.” Previously? “Last year I won 4-H Reserve Grand Champion.”
This years overall Grand Champion win a surprise? “I was a little surprised but hoping,” Jazmin said, adding, “I thought there might be a little better pig than mine. I didn't think my pig would do this good at first but I believe it now.” Why the doubts? “Because”, said Jazmin, “there was a pig that was litter mates with mine so I thought that they (judges) would pick that one instead. Because they looked similar, it was kind of nerve racking.”
Considering Jazmin's experience raising pigs, perhaps there was nothing unusual raising Ramona except: “It was a little difficult building her up,” she said, “ but she look's pretty good now.” The problem? “Her build is naturally long... generally takes longer to bulk up a longer pig and cover them up, it was a struggle.” Special diet? “Not necessarily,” she said, “just that I had to feed her a little more so she would bulk up like a normal pig.” Perhaps Ramona... ahem... ate like a pig? “Yes, she ate everything I gave her including donuts.” Wouldn't this cause a different problem? “Yes,” said Jasmine, “I thought she was going to go over weight. Because she weighed 279 pounds approaching the date of the Fair, I had to hold back her feed and water. The result: a slimmed down Ramona. Maximum weight allowed is 280 pounds.
Next year? “Probably raise another pig, Jazmin said. “I was thinking about raising a steer but I'm not exactly sure yet, so, we'll see. And the auction money? “Save most of it because I'm planning to move to San Francisco after I graduate high school. Then I'll have the money for rent or maybe college, San Francisco State,” explained Jazmin. And the attraction of San Francisco? “It's just such a liberal city and has been one of my dream cities for a while.” Jazmin plans to visit San Francisco for the first time this fall. Her future studies include fashion advertising.
Some of the FFA and 4-H members have a contingency of family and friends in the auction audience who bid robustly. Sometimes the bidding involves friendly rivalries... all for the good of the kids auctioning animals.
But there are many kids who do not have that kind of support in the auction audience. For them, the financial safety net is the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, a private non-profit organization founded in 1980 with headquarters in Santa Barbara. The object of the Foundation is to support 501(c)(3) non profit organizations in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The Foundation owns the Taylor Ranch in Ventura. Agriculture, oil and gas leases provide the funds that the Foundation uses to purchase livestock at auctions.
Shirley Hughes, Secretary for the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation explained: “We meet with auctioneers before the auction and inform them of the maximum we will pay for any given type of animal. Based on that, the auctioneers know what we will pay so if he's not getting bids from anyone, he can automatically take our bid and go with it. It speeds up the auction and everything we buy goes to Food Share. And we pay for the processing.”
Is there a budget for this activity? “We don't have a budget. We do it for the kids. It's a win-win. We don't outbid anyone nor do we discourage anyone from bidding. But we do want to see that the kids get a decent price for their animals, and maybe a little extra so they have the money to buy an animal for next year and maybe put some money in a college fund. Last year the Foundation spent approximately $700,000.00 for about 600 animals at the Ventura and Santa Barbara County Fairs and the Mid State Fair,” Hughes said. Obviously the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation is a phenomenal organization providing an invaluable community service.
That wraps up another wonderful, successful year at the Ventura County Fair. Congratulations to all the 4-H and FFA kids who raised an animal. You have all done your parents, your teachers, you organization leaders and yourselves proud. Kudos for a job well done!
See you next year... same place... same smiles!