Merced County Fair livestock auction prices up by $15,000

At the 2011 Merced County Fair Junior Livestock Auction, 547 animals were sold, and while the total number of animals auctioned was down slightly from 2010, the average sales prices were higher than last year.

"Prices overall were up but what really counts is the way the community continues to support these kids," said Richard Regalo, superintendent of the Merced County Fair’s livestock department, in a press release.

The 2011 Merced County Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction sales totaled $384,149, an increase of $15,800 from the 2010 total of $368,349.

The average bid was $4.04 per pound, up from $3.09 per pound at the 2010 auction and the average seller price for the 2011 auction was $825.57 compared to $677.84 in 2010.

"Our community is very supportive of these young people, especially considering the economic times," said Regalo, adding, "Buyers are staying all day at the auction to support the kids and keep the prices up." He also pointed out that moving the fair to June makes it easier to keep folks at the auction because the weather is nicer. "This was the coolest auction we've ever had," he said, compared to the warmer temperatures at past fairs before the fair moved from July to June.

A veteran of a few fairs when extreme heat made it challenging to keep animals, exhibitors and auction participants healthy, Regalo said, "The weather was really pleasant – it made it comfortable for exhibitors, staff, parents and everyone else."

But nice weather on auction day doesn't sell an animal. The key to getting a good price for an animal no matter if it’s a lamb, a pig or a beef, is a good marketing campaign before the fair even starts, Regalo said. “It isn't just about raising the animal, part of the project is promoting the animal to get people to bid on it."

It also makes a big difference when the 4-H or FFA club has a booster organization that helps kids out with their projects, he said. The fact a lot of kids did exhibit their animals and get a decent price for them “says a lot about the 4-H and FFA programs and our community” he said.

Although there were a lot of animals that went through the auction this year, the sale, which lasted just over 8 1/2 hours, went well, Regalo said, adding he applauds the auctioneers who volunteered their time once again to run the auction. “They are really good about supporting the kids and making sure they get good prices for their animals."

The livestock superintendent also gives a lot of credit for the success of the livestock events and auction to the Livestock Office staff and volunteers -- parents, 4-H and FFA leaders and teachers. “They were all 4-H and FFA members and they return year after year as a way of giving back.”

There were fewer market livestock sold at the fair this year – 547 compared to 568 last year. The animals sold were 19 beef, 346 swine, 122 lambs, 60 goats, 40 single fryer rabbits and 43 meat pens (three rabbits to a pen). The biggest changes at this year’s auctions were the increase in the total number of rabbits -- 48 meat pens sold in 2010 and there were 34 more pigs sold this year.

The average per pound selling prices at the 2011 fair are as follows: The average price per pound for goats was $5.77, beef was $2.35 per pound, the average price per pound for lambs was $5.33, for swine the figure was $3.38 per pound and rabbit meat pens (3 rabbits per pen) were sold for an average price of $194.

The average price per head for the Dairy Auction's animals was $3,592. The average price per head for the Bred Replacement Heifers was $3,592.

The 2011 Merced County Fair’s Grand Champions are: Montana Oh, Buhach Colony FFA, Grand Champion Goat, $10 per lb., 97 pounds, $970; Tyler Dietz, McSwain 4-H, Grand Champion Market Lamb, $10.64 per lb., 138 pounds, $1,468; Chuck Huff, Atwater FFA, Grand Champion Market Beef, $3 per lb., 1,275 pounds, $3,825 and Jack Ford, McSwain 4-H, Grand Champion Market Swine, $96 per lb., 265 pounds, $25,440.

The 2011 Merced County Fair’s Reserve Grand Champions are: Shelby Grinder, LeGrand 4-H, Reserve Grand Champion Market Beef; Chelsea Baker, Golden Valley FFA, Reserve Grand Champion Market Lamb; Sam Ford, Buhach Colony FFA, Reserve Grand Champion Market Swine and Katie Migliazzo, Buhach Colony FFA, Reserve Grand Champion Market Goat.

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