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Merced Fair livestock auction sees jump in number of animals, sales
merced fair pic
The number of animals for sale at the 2015 Merced County Fair Junior Livestock Auction was up by 54 from the 2014 sale and the total auction sales increased by $35,940. - photo by Photo Contributed

At the 2015 Merced County Fair Junior Livestock Auction 619 animals were sold and the sales totaled a whopping $614,582.

The number of animals auctioned was up by 54 from the 2014 sale and the total auction sales took an impressive jump by $35,940 from the 2014 total of $578,642.

Youth from around the county in 4-H and FFA, as well as independent exhibitors, watched as their market goats, lambs, swine and beef were sold at the annual auction, held at the Les McCabe Arena during the 124th Merced County Fair.

The auction was a huge success is many ways said Garrett Pedretti, superintendent of the Merced County Fair’s Livestock Department.

“There were a large number of animals sold in eight hours,” he said. “It was very hot so it was important to keep the auction moving – but it was done so professionally. I’d like to thank the auctioneers, buyers, volunteers and staff for making everything run so smoothly and successfully. The buyers are always good about staying for the entire auction to support our kids.”

 The bred heifer sale was held June 10. The replacement dairy heifer sale and rabbit meat pens were sold at separate auctions on June 11.

At the Junior Livestock Auction, the average bid was $5.68 per pound, up from $5.44 per pound at the 2014 auction and the average seller price for the 2015 auction was $992.86 compared to $1,026.15 in 2014.

While some fairs are seeing a decline in livestock exhibitors, that isn’t the case at the Merced County Fair. Pedretti, who showed cattle at the Merced County Fair as a 4-H and FFA member, said interest in animal projects continues to grow at this fair.

“The local 4-H and FFA clubs are reaching out to students who don’t live on farms, ranches or in rural areas, but want to be involved in agriculture,” he said.   

The auction represented a lot of young people who were willing to put in “countless hours at home and at the fair,” Pedretti said. “It teaches them responsibility, management and leadership skills.” And he noted that he continues to see more young people who donate all or a portion of their auction sale money to charities.

At the dairy replacement heifer sale there was an increase in the number of animals sold from 41 in 2014 to 55 this year. But the average price per head was down at $3,074 compared to $3,836 last year. The total sale was $169,100. At the rabbit auction, 123 lots were sold – 64  single fryers and 59 meat pens (3 rabbits), compared to 102 lots sold in 2014. The total sale was $30,645.

The market animals sold at this year’s livestock auction were 15 beef, 339 hogs, 127 lambs and 138 goats. The biggest change this year was there were 43 more goats sold at auction.

The average per pound bid at the 2015 fair are as follows: goats, $8.20; hogs, $4.27; lambs, $7 and beef, $3.19. The total sale for goats was $89,349.The total sale for hogs was $351,749. The total sale for lambs was $115,065 and the total sale for beef was $58,418.

The 2015 Merced County Fair’s Grand Champions are: Kohl Bright, LeGrand 4-H, Grand Champion Beef, $7.40 per lb., 1,298 lbs., $9,605; Macy Oh, Buhach Colony FFA, Grand Champion Goat, $10 per lb., 96 lbs., $960; Taylor Curutchague, Los Banos FFA, Grand Champion Lamb, $7 per lb., 141 lbs., $987; Katelyn Baptista, St. Anthony’s 4-H, Grand Champion Hog, $6 per lb., 261 lbs., $1,566.  

The 2015 Merced County Fair’s Reserve Grand Champions are: Allyson Sousa, Hilmar FFA, Reserve Grand Champion Beef; Tyler Dietz, Weaver 4-H, Reserve Grand Champion Goat; Brooklyn Silva, Our Lady of Fatima 4-H, Reserve Grand Champion Lamb and Lawrence Borba, Gustine FFA, Reserve Grand Champion Hog.