Raising livestock gives young Cole Countians new perspective
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Sellers at the market livestock auction took home more than just a payoff and an empty trailer.
Wednesday evening’s market livestock auction marked the culmination of many months of livestock training and care for local 4-H and FFA members.
According to auctioneer Bill Gratz, the young caretakers receive a “tremendous amount of benefit in seeing what their work will produce.”
“They learn that there’s no free ride in life,” he said.
Gratz has volunteered as the auctioneer at the Market Livestock Auction for several years and characterizes the event as “great for kids.”
Youth participants such as Jayce Tschirgi echoed Gratz’s sentiments.
“It (raising steers) teaches hard work and dedication,” he said.
Tschirgi will be a senior at Russellville High School this fall and participated in the steer auction for the first time this year. Some of his friends have raised and auctioned steers in the past.
“I wanted to try and learn,” he said.
Tschirgi raised and trained his steer, Sylvester, for just over a year. “It’s sad to see him go. You get attached to him,” Tschirgi said.
After constantly feeding, watering and training his steer for several months, Tschirgi hoped to sell him for $1.35 per pound, which totals about $1,300.
Participation in livestock events can also guide future career choices, according to Tschirgi.
“It helps you decide if you want to raise livestock or work in animal science,” he said. “I have learned so much. It’s a great experience.”
Kamryn Twehus, 11, has already reaped the benefits of raising livestock at a young age.
Twehus began raising livestock four years ago, after watching her older sisters for several years.
“I grew up with it,” she said.
Twehus sold her 8-month-old hog, Crystal, on Wednesday evening.
Sold at a final weight of 260 pounds, Crystal was about 70 pounds when Twehus began raising her.
Acclimating Crystal to the presence of people was one of the most difficult tasks in preparing her for the auction ring, Twehus said.
“(Raising livestock) teaches responsibility,” the Blair Oaks student said.
Bridget Brennecke, 15, has overcome several challenges in order to bring her steer, Hercules, to auction.
“He’s very stubborn,” she said.
Hercules presented hurdles for Brennecke initially but “he’s tamed down,” she said.
“You don’t want a steer with poor manners,” she said.
After 18 months of training Hercules, Brennecke hoped to sell him for around $1,000.
She is auctioning a steer for her third year and was introduced to the activity by her neighbors, who also raise steers.
Though Brennecke, who attends school in Russellville, has formed a bond with Hercules, she reminds herself that she will raise another steer for next year’s fair.
“He’s been loved and taken care of,” she said.
Aside from the “leadership and responsibility” that Brennecke believes she has gained from raising steers, she also enjoys the social aspect.
“I enjoy meeting new people,” she said.
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