The New Hampshire 4-H Livestock Auction is held annually in September at the Hopkinton State Fair. This year’s show and auction will take place on Monday, September 2nd. Beef, swine, goat and lamb are raised by 4-H’er’s, shown and then sold by live weight at auction, but the work starts much earlier in the year for 4-H Livestock Auction participants.
4-H’ers invest a lot of time and money into raising a healthy market animal, maintaining accurate records and recruiting buyers for the final sale. 4-H’ers are expected to complete all of the necessary tasks that a full-scale farm would to produce a quality product and turn a profit.
We caught up with some of this year’s participants for a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into a successful 4-H Livestock Auction project and to learn more about what we can expect in September.
What’s your name and how long have you been in 4-H?
Hayden Gardner, 8 Years.
How did you get into 4-H?
Part of the reason I’m in 4-H is that my Mom was in 4-H. She showed dogs and goats. As soon as she got out as a member she turned around and went right back as a leader. So, she's been involved in 4-H for a while. Her mother was in 4-H, and so was my great-grandmother.
My first club was a dog club. After 3 years we started up the Merrimack County 4-H Swine Club. We started with 5 kids and now we’re up to 14 members. There’s a good age range and we’re the only swine club in the state so there are members from a lot of different counties.
I've been told that you are the youth co-chair of the NH 4-H Livestock Auction. Can you tell us about that?
I was on a committee in the first year. It was fun to see how it was put together. Normally as a participant, you see what goes on in the front of the auction but I get to be behind the scenes and see all of the resources and planning that go into putting everything together. It's like a whole other world.
What would you tell someone that was considering buying an animal at the NH 4-H Livestock Auction?
Well, I mean the 4-H'ers are raising them, so you know they’re well taken care of. We have detailed records of the entire life of the animal. Food, veterinary care, and some kids go so far as to do a day to day log of what they did with their animal, like if they went out and groomed the animal they would note that. These are very well taken care of animals, you know, they aren't factory farmed animals. They’re healthy and high quality.
What animals will you be selling this year?
We are selling boer/toggenburger-cross goats in the auction. They're taller because of the dairy qualities of the toggenburger, so we have to work a little harder to get muscling on them. They are a bit lighter than full blooded boer goats.
How do you reach potential buyers?
It's hard with goats as there aren't many people around here who eat or know about goat meat. To try to market our animals, we visited Greek restaurants and had some luck there, and there’s also a community of immigrants who are familiar with goat as a part of their cuisine. We went to them and they were very excited and came to the auction.
If someone was considering participating in the auction, how would you recruit them?
I would say that it's a really good project. It teaches a lot of life lessons, although it isn't easy. It's also not necessarily hard, but it does require a lot of time and research especially if you haven't raised a market animal before. But I feel like you can learn a lot by doing the project and it's a good experience. You're dealing with money, you're dealing with expenditures and profits, the animal itself and their health and anatomy. All of that stuff.
What do you do with the money you receive from your auction sales?
That paycheck goes right back into next year's animals. I reinvest in my project. It feels good.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We're hoping this year's auction will be great and we're going to have a tent which will make it a bit cooler. Last year was our first year at Hopkinton and we learned a lot about the space and wanted to make it more efficient this year. Last year was a great learning experience.
You can show your support
There are many ways you can support the New Hampshire 4-H Livestock Auction. Fiscal sponsors are important to producing the event and it’s an excellent way to publicly show support for the future of agriculture in New Hampshire.
Attending the auction as a buyer is a direct way to help a 4-H’er develop life skills and responsibility through their market animal project – and you get to bring home fresh, local, quality meat. Auction buyers are encouraged to register early to receive information about the show schedule, auction instructions and passes to the fair.
To learn more about becoming a sponsor or buyer, please complete this form.