Editor’s note: The following information was provided by UW-Madison Extension – Walworth County
Meat Animal Sale Caps off a Year of Learning for Local Youth
More than 175 Walworth County 4-H and FFA members will participate in the Walworth County Fair Meat Animal Sale on Friday, September 3. For many, this activity will serve as the climax of their yearlong beef, sheep, or swine market animal project experience.
For most members, this year’s project experience began as early as October 1 and has been comprised of a blend of education, skill development, comradery, and hard work—all of which members agree mixes up into their brand of “fun.” Some members breed and raise their own market animals; others purchase market animals to finish growing and show. Regardless, they spend countless hours with their animals—lovingly feeding them, watering them, grooming them, managing their health, and training them in preparation for their big moments in the show ring and at the sale.
A survey completed by 31 Walworth County project families gleaned important information about the impact that the meat animal project experience is having on members. One hundred percent of survey participants agreed that the experience has contributed to them becoming more responsible, more confident, and better sportsmen. Ninety-seven percent said that the project has made them better problem solvers. Ninety-four percent say they recover more quickly when things don’t go as planned and are better prepared for college and work than they would otherwise have been. Eighty-one percent attribute the project to strengthening their record keeping skills, and 71% say they are at least somewhat interested in pursuing an animal science or agribusiness career as a result of their experience.
Asked to describe what life skills they are learning from their market animal projects in their own words, members shared these top five responses (in ranked order): 1) work ethic/hard work; 2) communication skills; 3) patience; 4) dependability/perseverance; and 5) responsibility. They also noted a number of project-specific learning gains including disease prevention among their animals, understanding their role producers in the food chain, and being able to explain the importance of producing wholesome meats for consumers.
Members cite working with their animals and the bonds they form as two of the things they most enjoy about their project work. As stated by Wyatt Dolan, a Richmond 4-H Club member, “I enjoy seeing my pig grow from a piglet into a full grown barrow. Being able to watch him and see him grow and work with me is so cool!” “I enjoy exhibiting the better part of a year’s hard work and dedication that my family and I have put into my steers,” says Natalie Yates, a Sugar Creek 4-Her. “I like showing around the country, meeting new people, and learning hard work ethic skills,” Brailee Ehlen, Elkhorn FFA, stated. “A lot of time and dedication is put in to be successful,” says Emily Ellsworth, a Spring Prairie 4-H Club member.
Members say that sale participation itself teaches them a variety of things including the importance of networking and marketing and the meaning of gratitude. Additionally, it’s clear that sale participation is a means to an important end for most members who are hoping to make and save money to offset costs related to post-secondary schooling and independent living after high school.
The 172nd Walworth County Meat Animal Sale will be held on Friday, September 3, at 10 a.m. in the Wiswell Center at the Walworth County Fairgrounds. Sale order will be beef, sheep, and then swine, with the sale of Grand and Reserve Grand Champion live and carcass animals following at approximately 3 p.m. Bidding is in cents per pound of live animal. Champion carcasses are also sold on a live weight basis. Buyers may send their purchases to a locker plant for custom processing or to market for resale (paying the difference between the purchase price and the market price). They may also opt to donate their purchase to the Buyers’ Appreciation Banquet held in late September or to an organization of their choice.
The Walworth County Business Association will clerk the event. Terms of sale are cash, check, or credit card. All are welcome to attend and bid on these quality meat animals! Due to locker plant limitations resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, local processing spots are limited and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis as the sale progresses. Buyers will be notified as locker plant spots fill up. An unlimited number of spots exist for sale animals being sent to market.
Project members encourage individuals and businesses to check out this year’s sale for an opportunity to buy quality meat and support local youth. “Buying an animal at this year’s sale is a great investment,” says Ridge Prairie 4-H member, Laura Williams. “It helps kids out by helping them for the future, and you get some great tasting pork in your freezer! Think of all the bacon!”
As stated by Lucy Stinebrink, Springfield 4-H Club, “Not only will you be buying quality meat, but you can feel good knowing the animal was cared for. Plus, you are making a difference in a child’s life!”