A pair of sisters from Brownstown made the same tough decision on Saturday that other 4-Hers have been making for years — sell their animals during the 4-H livestock auction at the Jackson County Fair.
Kelsey Wischmeier, 12, of Brownstown was the first of the pair to enter the show arena with her 1½-year-old dairy beef cow in tow. As she led it around the arena, the cry of bidders could be heard from different places within the building.
As each bid was made during the annual 4-H livestock auction, auctioneer Jon Claycamp announced the current price in that rambling, rapid speak that only an auctioneer can produce with any consistency.
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The final call came and went, and Claycamp announced that Wischmeier’s cow had brought in $2,300 from The Peoples Bank in Brownstown.
It was a scenario played out 192 other times during a hot, humid day.
Several minutes after Kelsey sold her cow, her 14-year-old sister Kylee Wischmeier, 14, led her 1½-year-old cow into the arena. That one sold for $2,100 to Mellencamp Irrigation & Excavation LLC.
Both of the sisters said it was hard to let the animals that they had taken care of for so long go, but they knew all along that the ultimate goal of raising a hog, cow, goat or a sheep is making some money.
“You get attached to them,” said Kelsey of her cow.
It’s the same feeling 4-H’ers who have exhibited livestock feel each year if they decide to sell their animal at the end of the fair.
Kylee agreed with her sister about giving up her cow.
“The hardest part is letting them go,” said Kylee.
The sisters said often 4-H members that sell their animals have raised them from birth and have become more like a pet dog or cat, making it even harder to let go. Others purchase their livestock from breeders after they have been weaned.
Grant Hackman, 17, who has shown dairy beef for six of the nine years he has been in 4-H, belongs to the first group.
“After knowing them for 16 months, it’s hard to put them on a trailer and say goodbye,” said Hackman, who also is from Brownstown.
Like the Wischmeiers, Hackman is realistic, however, about the process of raising livestock to show at the 4-H.
There’s more than just money to be made from showing and then selling your animal at the auction.
Hackman said the experience of raising an animal is one of the reasons he and many 4-H’ers choose to exhibit livestock.
“You learn about them, and you learn the responsibilities that go with them,” said Hackman of showing the animals.
Hackman said he learned a lot about taking care of animals through his time in the 4-H program. That includes that that everyday jobs of feeding, watering and keeping them clean come first.
There are other benefits to exhibiting livestock, he said.
They include meeting new people and allowing him to spend time with his dad, Mike Hackman, and brother, Brock Hackman.
All add to the experience and drive home why he loves being part of 4-H livestock shows, he said.
The Wischmeiers said they enjoyed the showmanship portion of the experience the most.
“When you show them and win, it shows how well you’ve done,” Kylee said.
Many of the animals at auction will go to directly to slaughter houses, and the buyer receives the money while others are processed locally for companies parties or other uses by the individual buyer.
The 4-Hers also generally know what’s going to happen to the money their animal brings from the auction.
“I’m saving mine for college,” said Kylee, who says she wants to pursue a degree in the medical field, though she’s not sure where she’s going to school yet.
Her sister has similar plans.
Hackman said college also is in his future, and he will most likely pursue a degree involving agriculture with the money he earned from Saturday’s auction helping pay for it. His dairy beef cow went for $1,800.
The Wischmeiers’ and Hackman’s cows were three of the 24 dairy beef sold at auction, along with 109 pigs, 25 goats, 21 beef cows and 14 sheep.
The total was 193, down from 221 in 2015. The total sale information was not available at press time.
Although a 4-H’er may exhibit two or three pigs during the fair, they are only allowed to sell one at the annual livestock auction. If they exhibit different species, they may sell one of each.
Animal;Swine;Sheep;Dairy Beef;Beef;Boer Goat;Total