Genetics, feeding, key to market champ’s success
Anderson wins consecutive sheep honors
Those youths in Jefferson County interested in winning grand champion market sheep might want to talk to Tadd Anderson.
The 11-year-old captured consecutive grand champion market sheep honors last week at the annual Jefferson County Fair, resulting in two large paydays for the youngster.
"I'm about the only kid to win market champion my first year and come back and do it again," said Anderson, a 4-H member. "I'm very proud."
Anderson's 149-pound sheep sold for $18.50 per pound at the auction last Saturday, giving Anderson roughly $2,700 after servicing fees were deducted.
Anderson's winning formula consists of genetics, a feeding program and lots of hard work to produce a product that topped all the sheep last week for market champion.
"Tadd has worked very hard and had to earn it," said Tadd's mother Kathy Anderson. "He had a strategy and it paid off."
Anderson purchased his winning sheep at a sale in Crook County this spring because he was the brother to the lamb ("Sparky") that vaulted him to market champion last year. He wanted a piece of the same genetics that awarded him $24/pound last year.
So, he went to the sale, bid himself and paid $330 to buy what turned out to be another market champion.
"You want to pick a lamb with lots of muscle and long loins," said Anderson, who named his lamb "Brother."
Genetics play a large role in what happens in 4-H and FFA projects. Breanna Gandy, who is a member of the Madras High School FFA chapter, earned grand champion market swine and grand champion swine showman last week.
"I think 50 percent is strong genetics, so if you have a good hog, you then have to feed it really quality feed," Gandy explained.
Gandy also had a buying strategy this spring.
"I looked around at other competitions and did my research," said Gandy, who has won FFA grand champion swine showman in consecutive years.
"When I buy, I'm looking for a good, sound hog that has great structure. If you're going to go to an auction and buy an animal, you have to look for all the qualities to make sure it's worth the investment," he said.
Gandy's $250 investment, coupled with $100-200 in feed costs, and roughly two hours per day of working with her pig had large results. She earned $14.50 per pound for her 293-pound hog, resulting in nearly $4,200 added to her bank account.
"I have fun at this and my philosophy has been to go hard or go home," Gandy said with a laugh. "I've worked really hard at this, and I'm really proud to be market and showman champion."
Gandy's father, Jon, is the local 4-H coordinator, and he said part of the 4-H program is to reward those who have put in time and conducted their research to produce a quality animal for the fair.
"You can't just have an animal with good genetics," Jon Gandy said. "You have to have an animal with strong genetics, feed your animal properly and work with them as well."
Feeding program costs vary with a wide range of products available. Some are quite expensive and others are cheaper, but Jon Gandy said you must have a plan and work your animal in order to be successful.
"Everybody's pocketbook is different and you have to buy an animal, and feed with a plan to go with your budget," he said. "There are so many different feed and breeders that everyone is going to have a different plan. It's an investment, but it's a risk as well, because nothing is guaranteed when dealing with animals."
Grand champion market beef was Peyton Matson and she is about to embark on her freshman year at Culver, and she will do so with a little more cash and the prestige of being named market champ and reserve grand showman.
"I raised him all on my own at our ranch and halter-broke him all on my own," said Matson, who breeds her own steers and has earned multiple awards for her projects.
Matson, 14, has found a passion for breeding projects. She has entered regional jackpots and also competed at the junior nationals with her animals. This year, Matson said she had over $1,000 in costs, but earned $4.25 per pound, handing her nearly $6,000 at last week's auction.
"It takes a lot of time," Matson said. "I'm very proud, but I don't like rubbing it in people's faces. I got second in showmanship, but I was so excited and happy for the person that earned first."
Janae Rhen won grand champion market goat. She $12 per pound and was rewarded with nearly $1,400.
"Nothing is handed to the kids that earn grand champion," Jon Gandy said. "They've all put in a lot of work, and a lot of times it's very difficult for the judges to determine our champions."