Kay Lynn Roberts-McMurray
The Ely Times
On a ranch 25 miles east of Ely, the Moore family has raised their family with the traditional ranch family values of hard working ethics, being responsible and the 4-H motto of “learn by doing.”
Parents Lance and Nicole Moore have had all four of their children, Bailey, Montie, Mallory and Emily, very active in 4-H activities. This year, Mallory and Emily took on the challenge of raising steers.
Mallory, 16, said she spent four years raising lambs until she stepped up to raising a steer last year. Last years’ steer weighed in at 1,490 pounds and sold for $3,600. Emily, 14 the youngest of the four children, explained she raised lambs for three years, and this was the first year in raising a calf for the market auction.
Last year, Emily’s lamb scored Grand Champion coming in at 132 pounds, and was purchased for $1,980.00 by Kinross Gold.
Not all youth in 4-H participate in a market project, there are other 4-H programs that don’t involve animals at all. But for those that do, learning to raise and sell animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and pigs can teach important lessons, like leadership, communication, decision making and problem-solving, all while making some extra cash.
Emily and Mallory explain the process of selecting their calves. “We own about 450 cows,” Emily said. “We don’t buy our steers, we pick them out of our herd, so about Nov. 1 is when we get our steers, before we ship the rest of our calves off,” Mallory said.
The calves are about 6-8 months old when they are picked out, and weigh about 800 pounds already.
After they make their selection, the sisters explain that they start putting halters on the calves, and tying them up so they get used to the halter and know that they can’t get away. Journals have to be kept keeping track of feeding, medical records, and more.
When asked what their weekly schedule consists of, they note, lots of walking, feeding and bathing.
“We get up about 5:30 each morning and we take them on about a mile walk, do a little bit of hills, then we feed them. We bathe them about 3-4 times a week. They like to be washed and brushed,” Mallory said.
“They get a blow dry too,” Emily said. The calves are fed again each night. A total of 25 pounds of grain is fed to both of them daily.
Mallory’s steer, Ozzie, weighs 1,350 and Emily’s heifer, Marg, weighs 1,240. That’s a lot of weight for two teenagers to be pushing around so getting them to be tamed while their young was very important, they both noted.
“Once their tamed they don’t try to get away from you and they don’t give you any problems and that’s nice because when their big you can’t control them as well,” Mallory said.
The girls explained that steers do take a lot more time due to their size, but the both agreed they really like steers because they seem more intelligent.
Emily said, “We could work with a lamb for 3-4 hours one day, and the next day they have forgotten it all, and it takes months to get them to recognize anything.”
When asked if either of the girls get emotionally attached to their market animal, Emily said she gets excited when she gets the check for the sale.
Mallory said she got really attached with her first steer. “You know you cry when you put them on the truck and all, but you raise them to sell them, you know what the end is going to be like so you try not to get too attached.”
After the sale of each animal, the Moore’s have a livestock account that the money goes into to cover the expenses of the show of animals the following year, and the rest of the money goes into the personal accounts for college and such Mallory said.
Last year, Mallory made almost $2,000 once all of the costs for raising the steer was deducted.
Getting up early to take care of their animals, car pool in to town, or to catch the bus to school doesn’t keep these girls from maintaining 4.0 GPAs. Mallory also plays basketball and softball.
The girls said they couldn’t take all the credit for their animals though. “Our dad is a pretty smart guy, he breeds all of our sheep and cows,” Mallory said.
And, while they work hard all year long to raise the animals for the market auction they are not there on Sunday for the auction. They come from an LDS family, and their commitment to church on Sunday is very important to them.
Mallory said, “It’s kind of hard because you want to be there and you want to sell your steer, but I have other commitments that are a little bit more important to me.”
Billie Sue Heckethorn, White Pine County’s 4-H Community Based Instructor, was raised participating in 4-H and in turn raised her own kids to participate in 4-H, so her passion for the program is strong, and it has shown by the increase in the number of animals in the market auction this year.
With 27 lambs this year, which is an increase of nine from last year, one more steer than last years’ nine and the biggest increase is pigs with 46 this year, an increase of 14 more than last year.
Heckethorn said, “The auction and shows are coming back to life, we are getting more community interest and support.”