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Some pig: Hog fetches $9,915 at 4-H auction

July 31, 2018

Nearly 1,500 for a chicken. How about $325 for a turkey?

No, they’re not supermarket prices.

They’re prices paid Monday at this year’s Allen County 4-H livestock auction at the Allen County Fairgrounds. 

The money came from friends, relatives and corporate buyers who wanted to encourage young farmers-to-be to continue their interest in raising animals, or, in some cases, who wanted to pad a favorite youngster’s college fund.

Nearly 100 entries, from rabbits and steers to pigs and goats raised by young 4-H members were brought into the showing pen to be sold to the highest bidder.

It’s a midsummer ritual that’s been taking place for years as a way to close out the Allen County Fair.

This year, several of the selling prices were records. For example, a male pig raised by Joel Arney of Fort Wayne was claimed for 1,300 higher than the previous record for pigs set in 2016.

Pig price inflation? No, said Arney.

“I just have a whole lot of people who care about me and want to see me do well next year,” said the 19-year-old graduate of Carroll High School headed to Manchester University in a few weeks.

In his last year in 4-H, Arney said the money that paid for the pig Monday came from the common practice of soliciting relatives, friends and parental business associates to pool funds to buy an animal.

Sometimes the money is plowed into an animal to show next year, but often the money goes to help a 4-Her along the road to higher education, he said.

That was the case for Jacob Anderson, 18, a graduate of Heritage High School, who raised a 1,285 he expected.

The Monroeville resident’s chosen college is Iowa State University where he hopes to major in agronomy. He’s participated in 4-H for 10 years, raising animals in the poultry, goat, rabbit, cattle and swine categories. 

A stewer rabbit raised by 10-year exhibitor Korbin Parker, 18, of Fort Wayne also brought a record price: 2,250 set in 2007, auction officials said. 

Although the $145,077 in total sales landed in fourth place since 2001, there were 58 more registered buyers, bringing the number to 232, said Loren Schaefer, auction spokesman. 

That shows continuing support for the program. “The more people who are here to contribute to the 4-H auction, the more dollars for the kids to get for their animals,” Schaefer said.

Besides purchases made for their own consumption, buyers sent 14 pigs, four goats, a steer and a lamb to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, a nonprofit organization that raises money to butcher livestock and game donated by farmers and hunters for distribution through food banks and feeding programs.

“The average-size pig of 250 pounds will provide about 600 meals,” said Debra Treesh, executive director. 

Sixteen-year-old Logan Kurtz’s pig, named reserve grand champion barrow, brought $1,400 for the Carroll High School sophomore-to-be : not a record. But Kurtz of Arcola, who is planning to study something related to agriculture in college, gets his reward from being in 4-H elsewhere.

What does he like best about participating? “Probably being a leader : showing younger kids how to show pigs,” he said.

Missy Howard, who grew up in 4-H, now has her own children : Brady, 11, and Holly, 10 : active raising animals.

As Holly wrestled with a turkey named Tom just before auctioning him, her mother said 4-H is not about money.

“It teaches them responsibility and compassion,” said the woman, who home-schools the children at the family farm outside Leo-Cedarville. 

And it builds friendships, said Arney, whose career in 4-H ended Monday. “There have been quite a few tears shed in the last week,” he said.  

rsalter@jg.net 

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