Imperial Valley Press
Feeder calves auctioned at the Fair in larger numbers
A slightly new twist on the 2023 California Mid-Winter Fair’s annual auctions took place on Friday, March 10, where dozens of 4-H and FFA students showcased their best livestock and marketed animals to the public.
There were so many feeder calf entries that the CMWF created a whole separate auction just for the feeder calves, Fair
CEO Alan Phillips said in a previous interview with IVP. Over 200 feeder calves alone were auctioned off, an auctioneer said during the event.
The auction event has become a tradition for many families who see it as a way to teach their children responsibility, teamwork, and entrepreneurship while promoting agriculture and rural life, locals said.
Bo Shrapshire, long time board member for the Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta livestock committee, said students will take on a project to raise an animal to learn life skills. They must adhere to the ownership limit per the regulations, which differ depending on the animal. A student can raise a steer or horse for at least 120 days. A lamb or hog must be owned for at least 60 days. Each animal also needs to meet a certain weight depending on their goals, he said.
“We’ve been providing an outlet for these kids for over 90 years,” Shrapshire said.
He said 4-H and FFA teaches young entrepreneurs the proper skills needed for success. Students get to compete regionally, state-wide, or nationally.
Aside from cattle, students can take on projects with smaller animals, such as poultry or rabbits, said Shrapshire. They can also learn showmanship by showcasing the family canine, or participate in non-animal competitions, such as photography, engineering, and oral presentations.
Feedlot operators from the Imperial Valley sponsor the feeder calves “because it’s gonna cost a young individual a fair amount of money to buy a steer, especially a show steer.” Shrapshire said.
“Sometimes they’ll spend upwards of 3- to4-thousand dollars,” he said.
As a child, Shrapshire participated in 4-H, learning his animal’s care came first before anything else.
The auction, according to Shrapshire, is a way for the community to come together and support the youth. Students send out letters to buyers to invite them to the auction, explain their project, and what they learned. Their bidder then comes to the auction, fills out a form, and is given a buyer number for the auctioneer to bill. They make sure the student makes enough money, and won’t lose money, on their project. The money is typically put away to help pay for the student’s college expenses, he said.
Shrapshire says it’s always gratifying to help students reach their goals. Shrapshire said the students’ individual stories are great examples of community involvement and what people will do to help children.
Once a price is determined, there are different ways one can handle the animal, he said. Even if the animal is taken home, the person can still take that difference off of their taxes as a donation. “Whatever the animal is worth – its value – you cannot take that off, but you can take off the difference of the selling price, buyback price, or real price.”
“You never know what someone’s strategy is,” Shrapshire said. “You can only give a child $10,000 a year tax free. If grandma and grandpa want to get a child through college, they can come buy their animal here, and they’ll only be out of the resale price. The rest would be a donation and wouldn’t affect what they do with the money they want to give to their grandkids.”