Students' hard work pays off at livestock auction
SEBRING - The 2013 Highlands County Fair Junior Livestock Sale featured 141 animals, steers, heifers and hogs, and auctioneer Brian Trimble in center arena coaxing bids from area buisinessmen. The sale started Thursday evening with Avon Park Middle School student and FFA member Jordan Faucett's 1,326-pound Grand Champion Steer going to Brewer Citrus with the highest bid of $3 a pound. Highlands County Extension Office Livestock Agent Randy Gornto said the steers were "floored" at $3 a pound, meaning the students received a minimum of $3 per pound. The heifers were floored at $2.75 a pound.A group of businessmen provided the "floor" for the students, Gornto said. "It's a tremendous deal because there is a lot of cost," he said. The average steer costs about $1,000 to $1,100 to purchase back in the summer and then another $1,500 to $1,800 goes to pay for the feed, making the total investment around $2,700 to $2,800. That's if everything went well and they didn't need a veterinarian. "So it's an expensive project and the community support that we get is just tremendous to support these kids and support them in agriculture," Gornto said. The hogs averaged about $3 a pound and ranged from $2.25 to $5 a pound, he said. The students are asked to help market their animals by talking to different businessmen and inviting them to the sale and convincing them to help their project out, which the students should be involved in because it is a part of agriculture and part of the education process, Gornto said. Prior to the livestock sale the students made last-minute preparations with their animals. Hill-Gustat Middle School eighth-grader and FFA member Austin Hart entered a 971-pound heifer while his sister, Kayla, a Sebring High Student, entered a 950-pound heifer. Austin said he had picked up some tips from his sister. "She taught me how to walk it and how to show it," he said. He spent about two to three hours a week tending to his heifer. Austin's father, Curtis, said it was more like two to three hours a day. Lake Placid Middle School eighth-grader Kiara Slade, representing the Venus Country Critters 4-H Club, entered a 795-pound heifer and a 224-pound hog in the show and sale. She used her hands to keep her heifer "Diamond" calm and relaxed. She doesn't have her show brush so she is just using her hands, Kiara' mother, Tanya Slade, explained. This is her sixth year showing a hog and second year showing a heifer. She really likes doing it, Tanya said. The students have a lot of fun with their animals and they spend a lot of time with them.
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