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Raising Cattle a Challenge This Year For Local Youth Farm Groups

The Santa Maria Fairpark is buzzing with activity today with people getting ready for the Santa Barbara County Fair. Local youth organizations have been showing off livestock they’ve raised this year, hoping to cash in on their efforts. But it’s the cattle-raising that’s been particularly difficult this year.

From poultry, to goats, and even turkey, the livestock section of the Santa Maria Fairpark is an absolute zoo. Raising the animals has taken the kids in local youth farm-organizations months of work and now they’ll be sold at auction.

“Lots of them take out bank loans to by them. They pick them out themselves. They feed them, they wash them, they water them, they doctor them. They basically are totally responsible for them,” said Candy Evenson, Livestock Superintendent.

Cattle are the biggest investment when it comes to time and cost.

Marc Westall and Alexius Jones were up to the challenge, spending months raising several calves.

“On a daily basis we have to feed them, we have to water them, and sometimes we have to practice leading them around,” said Westall.

“You have to pay for it all and then you always get your paycheck,” said Jones.

The paycheck at the auction this year may not cover as much of the expenses as it used to. Marc’s father Ken says the drought has increased the cost of upkeep.

“We’ve seen hay prices double if not triple,” said Ken Westall. “Feeder steers are $2 a pound when they used to be $1. It’s just a different world.”

Regardless of the size of the final paycheck, Westall says his kids have learned a valuable lesson.

“It’s responsibility when you got to go out twice a day and take care of an animal and make sure they have feed and water,” said Westall. “That’s the main thing we’re instilling.”

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