Many kids show livestock at the county fair every year, whether they show ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, hogs, or cattle. After showing at the fair, some members choose to sell their animals. Because 4-H is a program that is here to teach life-skills to the next generation, a lot of livestock exhibitors choose to sell their project animals at the sale the Monday after fair. Every year a sale is put on by the Clayton County Extension Office and a group of local auction houses.
The auction is a great way for us to learn how an auction works. As we raise our market animals, we learn how to feed and care for them. The reason market animals are raised, of course, is to go to market. Selling our exhibits at the fair gives us an idea of how an auction really works, and all exhibitors and their families are able to meet with the buyer afterwards.
Our problem that we face is with the buyers. The buyers we get, we are very grateful to. But because our buyers are so few, animals are going for regular market price or below. Being a showman at the fair myself, it is discouraging and disappointing that my cattle can be sold for such a low price after all the work put into them. All of the animals at the fair have been custom grown and finished to be shown; this means that very, very, special care has been given to these animals so that they can reach their full potential in both quality and quantity.
Potential buyers in the community believe they face several problems. Many are afraid to buy an animal because they will not be able to utilize all of the meat. Simple solutions to this problem have been found. For the smaller animals (chickens, ducks, and rabbits) the buyer can send the animal home with the exhibitor. Then their money will be given to the exhibitor who will use those funds for projects for next year or pay off previous animal expenses. For the larger animals, families have been known to get together and pool their money in one animal. Two or more families can buy a steer, hog, goat, or sheep, and split the meat.
There is also the choice to take your animal and re-sell it at a sale barn. This brings us to another concern . Transportation. This one is easy to fix. Volunteer trailers take your purchased livestock to the local locker or sale barn of your choice. There they will be processed or re-sold.
Help us encourage our local youth to stay involved in agriculture. Let this be a learning experience for both the members of Clayton County 4-H and yourself. Join us on Monday, August 6th at 9:00 a.m. for the annual Clayton County Livestock Auction!