FFA teens prepare for 103rd PA Farm Show

By on December 12, 2018

Part two: Feeding and handling

LNP Weeklies and Lancaster Farming correspondent Art Petrosemolo has been following both 4H and FFA members this fall. He wrote about the Lancaster 4H team who represented the state at the Livestock Judging nationals in Louisville in November for Lancaster Farming and this is his second in a three-part series on two local, FFA teens who are raising market lambs and goats to show at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show where Art will cover the judging and report on their finishes.

It isn’t as easy taking care of livestock during the cold, damp late fall in Lancaster County. Just ask Manheim’s Jeremiah Snyder, 16, and Ephrata’s Danielle Oberholtzer, 19, who are spending lots of time outside and in unheated barns with their market goats and lambs in preparation for competition at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show in early January in Harrisburg.

All the animals to be shown at the Farm Show have been fitted with electronic ear tags to confirm the animal judged is the animal registered.

Danielle Oberholtzer

Oberholtzer will show a mixed Suffolk-Hampshire cross lamb and Boer cross goat at the Farm Show. An Ephrata High School grad, Oberholtzer hopes to study agriculture in college starting next fall.

“It’s all about diet and exercise now,” she said in late November on an Ephrata farm where the animals are kept. Weight is important for market animals and they have to be kept within the competition guidelines for your animals’ weight class.

The lamb were purchased in late summer from Tudbinks farm in Conestoga, and her goat from Kiess-Lovell Show Goats in Linden. This will be Oberholtzer’s first of what she hopes will be many farm shows. She plans to start breeding her own goats and lambs in 2019.

Her cousin Bailey, 12, and brother Andrew, 13, are also getting their first taste of raising livestock with Oberholtzer’s guidance. Bailey’s lamb is named Curly and Andrew’s lamb is Larry, so with Oberholtzer’s Moe, they have the “Three Stooges of Farm Show entries,” she says. According to Oberholtzer, her brother and cousin “are catching on quickly on what it takes to raise competition livestock.”

Oberholtzer’s male goat (Asher) and male lamb are exercised several times a week, including climbing a ramp to work on muscle tone. She, Bailey, and Andrew handle both animals constantly so they will be show-friendly when they are touched by the judges.

Ephrata’s Danielle Oberholtzer exercising her goat, Asher. They will compete in market breed classification at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Although finishing high in class is important, Oberholtzer explains what really is important is to be one of the top animals in class so you are selected for the auction where members of the ag business community bid up the price of the animals to support their young entrepreneur future farmers.

It’s a risk, Oberholtzer says, as if your animals are not picked for auction, you receive only market price for the livestock and it does not cover your costs for purchase, feed, and boarding.

The first time Farm Show exhibitor was cautiously optimistic on how her animals would be judged as she had a strong summer-fall fair season in preparation for the main event.

Jeremiah Snyder

Manheim’s Jeremiah Snyder, 16, a high school junior, is a seven-time Pennsylvania Farm Show veteran. With his dad, he breeds and raises both market and show livestock. Snyder’s male market lamb (Mallet) and male goat (Spitfire) were selected as Farm Show animals a few months after their lambing and kidding in the spring.

The animals have been on special show feed as the Farm Show approaches and Snyder has been exercising them using a leash for the goat and a halter for the lamb. He also sets the animals as he will do at a show, and his father handles them as the judges will to get them used to human contact.

Manheim’s Jeremiah Snyder with his lamb, Mallet, and goat, Spitfire. They will compete in market breed classification at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show. (Photos by Art Petrosemolo)

“You can never tell with an animal,” Snyder says, “as it can be docile in the pen and get excited and hard to control in the judging ring.”

Snyder too is watching his animals weight, as well as their muscle development and bone structure, in the few weeks remaining before the event.

The young livestock farmer, who had a successful summer showing animals on the fair circuit in and around Lancaster County, says the PA Farm Show competition is a lot different from local fairs.

“The entries come from across the state and the competition in each class is fierce,” Snyder says.

His best finish in Farm Show competition was a sixth in lambs in 2017, and it missed auction by one place.

Snyder still has several years to compete at the junior level and he too is looking for his goat and lamb to finish high in their weight class and be selected for auction so he can put some of the winnings away for college tuition, not far down the road.

“I think my Boer goat is the best one I have ever raised,” Snyder says, “but we’ll see how it shows.”

Snyder says he has a good, but not spectacular, cross breed lamb but “You just can’t be sure what the judges are looking for, or what will happen when you get in the ring.”

The 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show will be held Jan. 5-12, at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

Art Petrosemolo is a freelance feature writer and photographer who retired in 2016 to this area from New Jersey. He welcomes reader feedback at artpetrosemolo@comcast.net.

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