How do you keep a 2,200-pound steer calm and composed when he is transported from the blissfully serene environment of Coast Union’s back pasture into the shrill, bustling atmosphere of the livestock barns at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles?
I visited those barns July 26 and was stunned at the cacophony. Noisy is an understatement, with enormously loud fans screaming at full speed every few yards, and the public address speakers (directly above Coast’s livestock location) endlessly blasting out shrill fair updates and commercial announcements.
As to keeping her livestock unruffled, FFA member Sarahi Beltran knew what to do. With help from her father, Jose Beltran, she prepared her steer and heifer for the racket by playing loud music right next to the animal several days ahead of their visit to the fair.
Beltran’s steer and heifer were purchased in September 2015, and it turns out the steer has asthma, which required expensive medication. Will prospective buyers be turned away because the steer has asthma? “He’s not going to live very long anyway,” said Sarahi, an incoming junior at Coast.
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How attached has Sarahi become to her steer? “I’m in between; I’m halfway going to miss him, and half not miss him,” she said, understanding the process of raising beef cattle for slaughter.
Sarahi earned $4,100 for her heifer and $4,800 for her steer. She took third in her heifer class, fifth in Advanced Beef Showmanship.
Incoming senior FFA member Cammie Tatham interrupted an exercise walk with her 1,047-pound heifer (which she walks every couple of hours) to explain that she paid $2,000 for the animal. That money came from the $6,000 she earned selling a heifer and steer at last year’s fair.
Cammie earned $4,000 for her heifer and $4,780 for her steer. She was second in her replacement heifer class, and second in Beef Showmanship.
This year she also marketed a steer, which weighed 1,279 pounds. Her goals after high school include “living on a ranch and raising cattle. Also, I want to be a nurse,” she said, and dealing with “the gross things” associated with nurturing cattle — “bad smells, sickness, wounds, if they get them” – has prepared her for her nursing career.
She added, “I also want to be a midwife. I love babies, I love hanging out with them, and I recently got to witness the birth of baby born to my mom’s best friend.”
Beltram and Tathum weren’t the only Coast Union students to come away with ribbons and strong sales at the fair. Overall, Coast Union’s FFA students earned a collective $53,000, in addition to numberous awards, according to FFA adviser Darcy Dobrec.
Among the top FFA students was Paige Spiller, who earned the FFA Reserve Grand Champion Replacement Heifer honor, the first time a Coast Union student has received that award. Spiller also won the Cattlemen’s Choice Award, which includes a $750 scholarship.
Spiller placed first in her replacement heifer class, and fourth in Beef Showmanship. She sold her heifer for $8,500, Dobrec reported.
Angel Gonzalez was second in his heifer class and fifth in Novice Beef Showmanship. His heifer sold for $5,500.
The students who sold pigs at the fair earned a total of $21,000 as each pig presented earned more than $2,000. Nik Robertson was fifth in Crossbreed Market Class; Sophia Mendoza was eighth in Crossbreed Market Class; and Melody Robertson earned ninth in Novice Swine Showmanship.