By Gabriel Monte: Freedom Newspapers
Chelsea Henrich, 16, mustered all her strength to control a steer more than 10 times her size in front of a crowd of bidders Friday at the Curry County Junior Livestock Sale.
After months of feeding, walking and washing the 1,300-pound steer, it was time to part ways.
The auction raked in about $328,000, said Junior Livestock Sale committee chairman Chris Thomas. The auction made about $320,000 last year, according to Thomas.
Though auctioneer Johnny Paiz admits most buyers are paying more than market price for the animals, such as steer, dairy cows and lambs, the point of the auction was to reward the teen farmers for their hard work.
“We’re not raising animals,” he said. “We’re raising kids.”
Business owners or their representatives bid on 121 animals. Some will keep them, others will sell them to a packer for slaughter.
The animals on auction were selected from the different junior livestock shows held throughout the week.
The exhibitors are members of 4-H Clubs and FFAs in Curry County.
Clovis Livestock Auction owner Charlie Rogers bought a fifth of the grand champion steer “Uncle Ethan” from Brian Blackburn, 16, of the Grady FFA. The steer sold for $7,300 – 17 times its listed market value.
Rogers said the steer will be sold to a packer later.
“I’m just here to support the kids,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about … to support the kids for all the hard work they do.”
Blackburn said his winnings will go to feed for the next steer he raises and to a college fund.
Blackburn has been participating in the livestock sale since he was 9. He’s learned not to get attached to the animals he raises.
“It’s part of the business,” he said. “Once you sell them, you just got to let them go.”