Two local FFA teens prepare for PA Farm Show

By on October 31, 2018

FFA members Jeremiah Snyder, Manheim, and Danielle Oberholtzer, Ephrata, have spent the summer down on the farm — literally.

Jeremiah, 16, and Danielle, 19, raised goats and sheep for the fall fair circuit and farm shows in Lancaster County with an eye on the “Super Bowl” for them — showing their animals at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg in January.

The teenagers are not novices in raising and showing animals. Each has won champion and reserve honors at local fairs including Manheim, Denver, and New Holland. Jeremiah breeds goats and lambs at the Herr Family Farm in Manheim and picked his show entrants from the spring flock of sheep and herd of goats. Danielle, who will begin breeding this year, picked her show animals from trusted suppliers.

Now that the local fairs are done, they will concentrate on getting their goats and lambs — entered in the Farm Show — ready for the competition, keeping them healthy, fit and toned and at just the proper weight specified by the market competition.

We’ll check in with them in late November and follow them to the competition in Harrisburg during the January 5-12 Farm Show week.

Jeremiah Snyder and the goat he is raising for the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Jeremiah Snyder

Manheim Central High School junior Jeremiah Snyder doesn’t have too much free time. He works part-time “milking” at Baker Hill Farm saving money for college, and has a number of goats, lambs, and hogs to care for during the week, as well as helping his dad with the care and feeding of a beef steer and dairy beef steer.

In getting his animals ready for the Farm Show, Snyder is very conscious of their weight. His lamb must weigh no less than 90 pounds while the goat has to weigh in between 65 and 120 pounds, meaning they are on a special diet for the next three months.

Snyder gave his (no-name) Farm Show goat — a Boer — a little practice at local fairs this fall and it was recently named (non-sale) champion of the New Holland Farmers Fair, where the young breeder also received the Showmanship Award. He will be showing a lamb and goat at the PA Farm Show in the market competition.

Snyder has been showing at the PA Farm Show since 2012, as well as at local farm shows and fairs. He got started at age 10, when his sister Gwendolyn, an FFA member in high school, took an interest in raising show animals.

It could not have pleased Jeremiah’s dad more. Brian Snyder comes from a dairy farm background and enjoys working with his children.

“It has given them both strong work habits and taught them a lot about responsibility, “he says, “and given me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Gwendolyn, who got it all started, is now married and raising a family and finishing her college education living in Lancaster County with her Marine veteran husband.

Snyder explains that the Farm Show, like many local fairs, is a market competition, which means the animals are sold at the end of competition and enter the food chain. He says the champion or reserve champion at each fair is usually purchased by a company in the ag field for well above market price to support the young people who raise them. He smiles when he remembers one of his champion lambs selling last year for $20 a pound — nearly 10 times the market rate.

“It’s all money for college,” Snyder says.

In two years, he hopes to attend Thaddeus Stevens.

Jeremiah is showing a Shropshire lamb and a Boer goat at Harrisburg. He has nearly a dozen female ewes and a ram with several doe goats in the barn. He bred his 2018 show goat with a buck from another herd.

Danielle Oberholtzer

Danielle Oberholtzer and her lamb, Francesco, at the New Holland Fair.

Danielle Oberholtzer, a 2017 Ephrata High School graduate, is working this year to earn money for college. She looks forward to a career in the ag world.

A five-year FFA member, Oberholtzer is a veteran showing lambs at local fairs and has been on the circuit for four years. This season, she exhibited lambs at Elizabethtown, Ephrata, Denver and New Holland, and is looking forward to her first PA Farm Show. Her lamb, Francesco, received Champion honors at the Denver Fair and Reserve Champion at New Holland. Her lamb, Rio, took top honors at New Holland in the heavyweight/market class.

When asked her plan for the next three months, Oberholtzer explains that getting her animals — including the goat she has just acquired — to gain muscle is important, as well as to be sure they have a good length of loin with a flat level top (back) so they show well were all top priorities.

“This means keeping both the goat and sheep within the weight restrictions,” she says, “and we actually weigh the feed each day before they get it.”

Oberholtzer also makes sure the Farm Show goat and lamb will be exercised daily with walks and runs to keep them fit.

“We even have a ramp so the goats can climb in their pen,” she says.

Oberholtzer’s 13-year old brother Andrew, a 4-H member and student at Ephrata Middle School, is learning the ropes from Danielle and showed lambs, for the first time, at the local fairs this season. He is working with his sister this fall and helping her prepare for Harrisburg.

Oberholtzer’s animals are housed at Dave and Jen Knowles’ farm in Ephrata. Her lamb is a Suffolk-Hampshire mix. Her goat is a Boer.

Both FFA members compete in both market and no-sale competition and know at the January Farm show the competition will be fierce and their animals will have to be the top half of their class to make it to the final competition in the market auction.

Lititz Record correspondent Art Petrosemolo, a city guy in his second year living in New Holland, is getting his shoes dirty (really) learning about farm life. This is his first experience with FFA and 4H groups and their activities. He decided to follow two teenagers as they prepare for the Farm Show. This is his first report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *