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Livestock champions achieve Sale records
JACKSON -- Records are made to be broken, but at the 38th annual Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions, they were shattered.
Dean Jousan, 4-H livestock specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said six records were set at Thursday's sale. Since the sale began in 1970, buyers have paid more than $3.5 million for the champion and reserve champion market animals exhibited at the Dixie National by Mississippi's 4-H and FFA youth.
The final 2007 sale total was $279,008.50, which is $40,315.50 more than the previous record set in 2005. Generous buyers were the key to the sale's success, including record amounts for a steer, a lamb and a goat.
The grand champion steer, exhibited by Kody and Kash Miller of Mize FFA, tied the previous record of $17 per pound, but because of his size, the buyers paid a record total of $22,916 for the animal. The steer's buyers included Gov. Haley and Marsha Barbour, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi and Ergon.
Buyers with Brookshire's Grocery and Regions/AmSouth Bank helped set a new price per pound for a lamb when they paid $60 per pound for the grand champion lamb, exhibited by Lauren and Pate DeMuth of Hinds County 4-H. The lamb also set a record by bringing a total price of $9,060.
Britt Brookshire said his company has been involved in youth livestock programs for almost 80 years and began taking part in the Dixie National sale five years ago shortly after Brookshire's came to the state.
“When we first opened stores in Mississippi, we asked Ag Commissioner Lester Spell for suggestions of projects we could be involved with. This sale was one of his recommendations,” Brookshire said. “These projects are right up our alley. We're in the food business, and these kids and their projects are the backbone of our country.”
The grand champion market goat, exhibited by Canan McKellar of Tate County 4-H, brought a record $80 per pound. The buyers paid a record total of $7,200 for the top goat. The buyers included Direct General Insurance Co., Bobby and Barbara Martin, Cary and Mary Childs, and Bob and Amber Lee Glover.
McKellar, a second grader, said he and his little brothers enjoy exercising and caring for the goats on their cattle farm, but his mother recognizes the real benefit.
“Working with the goats has really boosted Canan's self confidence,” Jil McKellar said. “Goats are a lot easier to handle than the cattle, plus they have more personality and are more fun to play with.”
In addition to the sale of the animals, the Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions Committee distributed $37,500 worth of scholarships to 33 exhibitors. The five largest scholarships, $1,500 each, were awarded to the premier exhibitors in beef, dairy, lambs, hogs and goats. Academic scholarships for $1,000 each went to 25 high school seniors. Additional $1,000 scholarships were awarded to three supreme exhibitors in the categories of dairy female, beef female and beef bull.
Jousan said the scholarship requirements vary for each category, but all are the result of hard work and dedication.
“These scholarship recipients have developed perseverance and learned a lot of life skills,” Jousan said. “Now, they can take the money from these scholarships as a reward for their hard work. We want to encourage them to continue with their life goals by going to college and equipping themselves for the next stage of life.”