Like many of the 4-H and FFA members selling animals Saturday at the California Mid-State Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction, 18-year-old Russell Whitaker said he was following in his family’s footsteps.
“I owe a lot of it to my older sister, Whitney,” Whitaker said.
He said his sister showed him how he could make a living selling livestock, and he’s been doing it ever since.
The Atascadero FFA member also credited his mother, Dena Whitaker, and his mother’s fiance, Willie Pantoja, for helping motivate him, leading to the chance to show and sell hogs across the country, including in Iowa, Colorado and Arizona.
“They’re the main reason I’m here right now,” he said.
Whitaker graduated from Atascadero High School in June, but he’s been selling livestock for 10 years now. He said he couldn’t remember a period in that time when he wasn’t taking care of hogs.
On Saturday, that experience paid off with the sale of a 261-pound Reserve Grand Champion Market Hog, which went for $36 a pound.
“I’m extremely blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had,” he said.
Saturday’s Junior Livestock Auction saw 850 animals worth more than $2,188,063.25 million sold by 4-H and FFA students, according to unofficial figures from the fair.
A 121-pound lamb raised by incoming San Luis Obispo High School sophomore Bella Marden, selected to benefit the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund in honor of the recently retired Farm Supply CEO, was sold for $192 per pound, according to organizers. The money raised will go to help youth agriculture programs in addition to at-risk youth programs.
Marden’s late grandfather, LeRoy Mosinski, a former San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Lieutenant, was a longtime friend of Brabeck.
The overall total did not include “add-ons” as of Saturday night. “Add-ons” allow fair goers or interested parties to give additional money toward an animal’s purchase.
The unofficial overall totals were up from last year’s Junior Livestock Auction, which drew more than $2,096,205.75 million on 817 animals sold.
Breaking it down
The average price for hogs was $8.79 per pound, down from $9.10 last year. The average price for goats was $14.05 per pound compared with $13.17 last year. The average price for steers was $4.01 per pound, down from $4.11 last year. For lambs, the average price was $12.83 per pound, down from $13.12 last year.
▪ 87 heifers sold at $5,114.94 per head, totaling $445,000.
▪ 79 steers sold for $39,233.25.
▪ 178 lambs sold for $310,832.50.
▪ 447 hogs sold for $968,863.50.
▪ 48 goats sold for $58,909.
▪ 4 rabbit pens sold for $4,300 — an average of $268.75 per pen.
▪ 4 chicken pens sold for $7,825 — an average of $489.06 per pen.
▪ Wyatt Judge of San Luis Obispo FFA sold the Grand Champion Heifer for $8,500.
▪ Hayden Taylor of Pozo 4-H sold the Reserved Grand Champion Heifer for $13,500.
▪ Carly Wheeler of Santa Lucia 4-H sold the 4H Reserve Champion Heifer for $11,500.
▪ Lacey Haas of San Luis Obispo FFA sold the FFA Reserve Champion Heifer for $7,500.
▪ Brayden Kahler of Cerro Alto 4-H sold the Grand Champion Hog for $3,752.
▪ Russell Whitaker of Atascadero FFA sold the Reserved Grand Champion Hog for $9,396.
▪ Rachel Wilkins of Lockwood 4-H sold the Grand Champion Rabbits for $1,500.
▪ Kendall Savage of Chaparral 4-H sold the Reserved Grand Champion Rabbits for $1,200.
▪ Kendall Savage of Chaparral 4-H sold the Grand Champion Goat for $2,112.
▪ Tanner Bevill (independent) sold the Reserved Grand Champion Goat for $1,027.
▪ Holyn Sylvester of Canyon Country 4-H sold the Reserved Grand Champion Market Broilers for $1,200.
▪ Emma Wiest of El Paso De Robles 4-H sold the Grand Champion Lamb for $2,740.
▪ Kaci Walker of Templeton FFA sold the Reserved Grand Champion Lamb for $2,130.
▪ Wyatt DeBusk of Atascadero FFA sold the Grand Champion Steer for $8,946.
▪ Johnny Schmitz (independent) sold the Reserved Grand Champion Steer for $9,450.