The arena at the Manatee County Fairgrounds was full of prize-winning steers. There was a palpable buzz of excitement as an auctioneer’s staccato cadence sought the highest bids for the cattle raised by Manatee County youngsters.
Noah Boyd was unimpressed.
“I want to see pigs,” he told his grandparents, Preston and Priscilla Boyd of Bradenton.
Noah Boyd is only 3 years old, and the steers, most of which weighed well over 1,000 pounds, were too big for his liking. He was amused, though, that he “saw one peeing.”
The annual steer sale at the 2017 Manatee County Fair started at 1 p.m. Saturday. The bidding action was a sharp contrast to last weekend’s swine sale. Buyers paid higher prices than usual for hogs, many going for more than $5 a pound. That’s more than a price of pork usually sells for in a supermarket.
At Saturday’s steer sale, the auctioneer started the bidding for each animal at $3 a pound, as he had with the hogs the week before. But he usually ended up lowering the price. Some steers sold for as little as $2 a pound.
The prices are lower this year because people paid more for the pigs.
“The prices are lower this year because people paid more for the pigs,” said 13-year-old Cade Cannon of Parrish.
It was his fifth year selling a steer at the fair. He had started raising this year’s steer just after the fair last year. It weighed maybe 100 pounds when he started. On Saturday, it weighed 1,100 pounds.
It sold for $3.75 a pound, one of the higher prices at this year’s fair. His personal record was $6 a pound a couple of years ago.
Cannon said he never names his steers.
“I don’t want to get attached to them,” he said.
Saturday evening, the steers from the sale, most of them about 18 months to two years old, would be taken to slaughter. The young people, many of whom are members of a 4-H club and the FFA, know that when they get started, but some of them can’t help feeling a bit sad when they say good be to their animals.
In a judged show prior to the auction, Montgomery had been awarded second place in the Manatee County Steer competition. Judges looked at everything from the amount of fat and muscle on the steer to the way it behaved to the health of its coat.
Margie and Brian DuQuette of Myakka City said their 16-year-old daughter, Kaylie, would be emotional tonight knowing the fate of her steer, Montgomery.
“She gets attached to all of her animals,” Kylie’s mom said.
In a judged show prior to the auction, Montgomery had been awarded second place in the Manatee County steer competition. Judges looked at everything from the amount of fat and muscle on the steer to the way it behaved to the health of its coat. Kylie had spent a lot of time over the past few months tending to Montgomery’s shiny black hair.
“There’s more that goes into his hair then hers,” Brian DuQuette joked, gesturing toward his wife.
Buyers were mostly local companies and farmers. The prices they paid were above market value. Many of them volunteered to pay even more than their winning bid. They’ll lose money, but they help nurture the next generation of Manatee County agriculturalists.