Youths already preparing for August fair

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2006 Moffat County Fair Dates Market lamb and goat weigh-in May 10 Market swine weigh-in May 11 Open horse show Aug. 4-5 Moffat County Fair Aug. 7-12 Livestock sale Aug. 12

There may be snowflakes in the air, but area youths are already thinking about the livestock they will show this summer.

Local 4-H and FFA members are gearing up for the 2006 Moffat County Fair, set for Aug. 4 to 12.

"Market steers have already had their mandatory weigh-in on Feb. 5," said Jackie Goodnow, office manager of the Colorado State University Moffat County extension office. "Steers need to be owned for120 days before showing them at the fair."

Youths showing market steers also have a "rate of gain" trophy to compete for this year.

Market lambs and goats will be weighed in May 10, and Goodnow said youths should be contacting breeders now.

"You can start buying animals by the end of March or mid-April," she said. "It all depends on when the breeders will have them ready to go."

Goodnow said some youths travel as far as Denver and Iowa to purchase the show animals they hope to turn into grand champions.

Lyndi Wellman, 16, has shown breeding sheep for nine years and will try a market lamb for the first time this year.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "You've got to keep them in control when you walk them before the judges. It takes a lot of training."

Karen Maneotis has lived in Craig for 36 years and has shown animals all her life. She is the leader of Double Trouble, a 4-H group specializing in lambs, goats, pigs, and steers. She agreed it's time to start calling breeders, but buyers should be aware of what they are getting into.

"It's a huge commitment," Maneotis said. "These kids are up every morning tending to animals for two or three hours. Then it's a couple of hours every evening feeding and watering."

Maneotis said raising animals is a great way for youths to learn responsibility as they determine the right feed and insure that the animal is vaccinated and wormed, as well as supplying fresh water every day.

She warns there is also the cost to consider.

"Some lambs and goats start at about $100 and go up from there." Maneotis said. "Equipment is also expensive. Shears for the lambs can run $200, and you'll need feed pens and halters."

Goodnow said the extension office is a good place to start for those new to livestock showing. The office has information about breeders, when sales take place and requirements for showing animals at the county and state fairs.

Judges look for good confirmation, muscle definition, and structural correctness along with a healthy animal that walks well before the judges, said Maneotis.

"It's a lot of work caring for these animals," she said. "But if you're dedicated, it's worth it."

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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