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Michalke raises FFA grand champion/supreme reserve champion lamb

Also shows junior champion and reserve champion dairy goats

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Taylor Michalke showed five animals at this year's San Diego County Fair including a lamb which won Future Farmers of America grand champion and supreme reserve champion honors and dairy goats which won junior champion and junior reserve champion awards.

"I'm just very happy that they had a fair this year," Michalke said. "This is my best one yet."

Michalke, who completed 10th grade at Fallbrook High School in June, is a member of Fallbrook's FFA chapter. She spent five years in Fallbrook 4-H prior to enrolling in Fallbrook High School and transitioning to FFA. Michalke, who was born at Fallbrook Hospital, is now 16 and was 9 when she joined 4-H. Her mother, who was Traci Erickson at the time, was in Fallbrook 4-H and Fallbrook FFA. Her father, Paul, was in FFA in Colorado.

Michalke began showing lambs at the San Diego County Fair in 2016; that year she sold a 140-pound lamb at auction. Her lamb at the 2017 auction weighed 124 pounds. In 2018, her 127-pound lamb at the auction won the mediumweight division. Michalke also showed a dairy goat during the 2018 county fair's livestock breed show, and that goat took first place in her class.

In 2019, Michalke raised two lambs who both won their weight classes; 120-pound Denali was the 4-H mediumweight champion and 93-pound Marvel won the feeder class. The feeder class lambs are too light to be taken to the auction and do not compete against the other weight class champions and reserve champions. Denali, a Hampshire/Suffolk cross, was the 4-H grand champion. Michalke was unable to be in Del Mar during the 2019 livestock breed show.

In her first year as a Fallbrook FFA member Michalke raised two lambs. The 2020 market livestock show was virtual, and neither of the lambs placed in their class.

"I wasn't disappointed that I didn't win anything. I was very disappointed when they cancelled the fair because I loved going and showing in person," Michalke said.

This year, the June 26 auction was virtual, but the participants showed their animals in person. "I'm just happy to be back and I'm very happy that I got to show in the ring again. I couldn't ask for more than that," Michalke said.

The dairy goats show took place June 20. Michalke showed three LaMancha goats: 3-year-old Diamond, 1-year-old Tina Rex, and 4-month old Olive. Diamond and Tina Rex were bred in Kansas by Jen-Mae-Ka Kids Dairy Goats. Blue Line LaManchas is the Michalke family herd, and Olive was bred by Michalke.

"I really loved showing them," Michalke said.

Diamond placed third in the senior doe class. Tina was the junior doe champion and Olive was the junior doe reserve champion. "It was really cool," Michalke said of having both the junior champion and the junior reserve champion.

Michalke added that the reserve champion was a goat she bred herself. "I thought that was very cool," she said.

The Ramona Country Fair will take place July 30 through Aug. 1, and Michalke will show her dairy goats there.

The two market lambs Michalke showed at the fair were both Hampshire/Suffolk crosses. Both were 8 months old when shown at the fair, and Michalke acquired both from Rocky & Sons Show Lambs, which is in Fallbrook. Whitney, a ewe, weighed 143 pounds on the fair scales. Pecan, a wether, was 121 pounds.

The lamb classes were based on weight but were not official weight classes. The class competition took place June 23. Pecan placed first in his class. Whitney was second in her class.

Later, on June 23, the FFA class champions and reserve champions from each class competed for FFA grand champion and FFA reserve champion. Pecan was selected as the FFA grand champion. "When the judge went up to shake my hand I was not expecting it, and I was very, very happy," Michalke said.

"It's a very big deal to me, and I was very happy when it happened because I was not expecting it," Michalke said. "I never really expect to win, but I try my hardest and what happens happens."

Michalke has thus now raised both a 4-H grand champion lamb and a Future Farmers of America grand champion lamb. "I'm very grateful. This doesn't happen to everybody," she said.

"I am very grateful to everybody who helped me and to Rocky for being very supportive of me. He was a big part of making that happen," Michalke said. "I'm happy that Whitney got to go into the final drive, too, because that doesn't happen every day."

Rocky's sons include Fallbrook 4-H member Alan Morris, whose 118-pound lamb was the 4-H grand champion.

In past years, the FFA grand champion, the FFA reserve champion, the 4-H grand champion, and the 4-H reserve champion competed for supreme grand champion and supreme reserve champion. The Grange had been inactive at the market livestock show for several years, and in past years any Grange exhibitors competed in the 4-H division. In October 2020, the East County Grange, which is based in Alpine, was chartered. This year the market livestock show had a separate Grange division.

"Instead of four lambs, this year there were five due to the new division," Michalke said.

For some species, there were six animals in the championship drive. East County Grange member Karstin Wagner had the only Grange lamb, who weighed 131 pounds, so the lamb championship drive June 24 consisted of five lambs.

Prior to entering the championship ring, the exhibitors were in a line, and their names and awards to that point were announced. "This was the funnest champion drive," Michalke said. "This was definitely the most interesting."

Morris' lamb received supreme grand champion distinction. "I was so happy for him that he got to win grand champion," Michalke said.

The judge announced Pecan as the supreme reserve champion. "He put his hand out to shake mine and I started tearing up because I was not expecting it," Michalke said.

Last year Morris raised the supreme reserve champion lamb. "I don't really expect to win. It just happens," Michalke said.

"I was happy to be in the final drive," Michalke said. "I went over the top with happiness. It was a fun day. It was a good day."

Michalke also participated in the showmanship competition with Pecan. "Showmanship is really rough," Michalke said. "Just one wrong move and you could mess it up."

They placed first in the FFA senior division. "I wasn't expecting it, so I was very happy and overjoyed," Michalke said.

"I worked very hard," Michalke said. "It paid off, so I was very happy."

First place in lamb showmanship advanced Michalke and Pecan to the master showmanship competition for all large animals. They placed fourth.

"I was happy with whatever I got," Michalke said.

Rocky & Sons Show Lambs paid $875 for Pecan at the auction. Sara Schmitt of Escondido purchased Whitney at a barn sale for $650; Schmitt plans to use Whitney as a breeding ewe.

"I'm proud of all my friends and everybody I competed with because they did a very good job," Michalke said.

Michalke also expressed her gratitude for family, friends, and others who helped her.

"I'm extremely grateful for how well I did this year, and I cannot wait for next year," Michalke said.


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