Auction take tops $250,000 as 802 4-H animals take their final walks

Sarah Doctor, left, waits for her name to be called to take her steer into the show arena during the cattle auction. Brittany Dilley, back right, watches the auction.
Sarah Doctor, left, waits for her name to be called to take her steer into the show arena during the cattle auction. Brittany Dilley, back right, watches the auction. Photo by Jessica Williams.

More than $250,000 changed hands on Thursday, July 30, as 802 animals were trotted through the Huntington County 4-H auction.

But while the number of 4-H animals was up from last year, the total auction take was down by $50,000.

It's the second straight year of declining bids. The total auction take this year, including the appraisal prices and premiums, was $256,360. That's down from the 2008 total of $306,525. The auction had a record-breaking year in 2007, taking in a total of $315,765.52.

The 802 animals sold this year compares to 758 animals sold in 2008, and 769 in 2007.

Each animal goes into the ring with a set market price which, unless the buyer places a hold on the animal, is paid by the slaughterhouse. The bidder pays the premium - an amount over and above the market price - which goes straight to the 4-H member selling the animal.

This year, the average premium paid per animal was $198.74, down from the average premium per animal of $250.41 paid in 2008. In 2007, the average premium per animal was $264.38.

Trevor Brewer, a 4-H member from Huntington Township, left the ring with the heaviest pocket of all. He got $4,600 for his grand champion barrow from the swine show. The 272-pound animal, which had a market price of only $108.80, was purchased by a group calling itself the "Friends and Family of Trevor Brewer."

While dairy animals are traditionally not sold at auction, each of the three dairy showmanship winners sells a gallon of milk at auction. Those three gallons of milk brought in $1,775, up from $1,500 in 2008. All of the money paid for the milk is premium, so the average premium per gallon this year was $591.67, up from $500 last year.

Of all the species sold at auction, dairy and sheep were the only ones to see increased premiums.

Sixty-one sheep were sold this year for a total of $20,750, with premium money making up $13,486 of that total. The average premium per animal this year was $221.08. The 52 sheep sold last year brought in a total of $17,250, with $11,227.79 of that amount in premium money - for an average premium per animal of $215.92.

In the beef auction, 60 animals were sold this year for a total of $75,375; of that, $15,749.98 was premium money, for an average premium of $262.50 per animal. Last year's 67 head of beef sold for a total of $98,100. The 2008 premium total was $25,620.28, for an average premium per animal of $382.39.

Ninety-five goats were sold at auction this year for a total price of $24,030, down from last year's total take of $29,500 for 102 goats. The premium paid was also down, from $24,889.70 last year to $19,216.70 in 2009.
The average premium paid per goat this year was $202.28, compared to $232.89 last year.

In the poultry auction, 262 birds were sold this year for a total of $39,000, all premium money, for an average premium of $148.85 per bird. Last year, the 228 birds brought in a total of $49,625, for an average premium per bird of $217.65.

Eighty-seven rabbits brought in a total of $13,400 this year, with $12,773.51 of that paid out in premium money for an average premium per rabbit of $146.82. In the 2008 auction, 79 rabbits brought in a total of $16,950, including $16,346.65 in premiums. Last year's average premium per rabbit was $206.92.

The 234 swine sold this year brought in a total of $82,030, including $57,387.60 in premium money, for an average premium per animal of $247.17. In 2008, 227 swine crossed the auction block, bringing in a total of $93,600, including $60,592.93 in premium money for an average premium per animal of $266.93.