Sweeps top two 4-H market lamb positions, wins master showmanship
Village News Reporter
The two weeks Fallbrook 4-H member Alan Morris spent at this year's San Diego County Fair brought Morris and his animals numerous awards.
Morris brought a ram and two ewes to the open sheep show June 6-11 and showed two lambs and a pig at the market livestock show June 18‑25. During the open sheep show, Morris collected champion wether sire, champion wether dam and reserve champion wether dam, and supreme champion ewe for all breeds awards. The market livestock show ended with Morris receiving 4-H grand champion, 4-H reserve champion and supreme reserve champion lamb banners. Morris also won the 4-H intermediate master showmanship competition for all large animals.
"I had so much fun at the fair," Morris said.
Morris turned 13 on Nov. 23. The 2022-23 year was Morris' eighth in 4-H, but 4-H members cannot show animals at the county fair until they are nine years old (the Pee Wee 4-H level allows members under nine years old to show small animals, but that does not include place competition) so Morris made his livestock breed show and market livestock debut in 2019. The Morris family moved from Orange County to Fallbrook in 2016, and Morris' first year in 4-H was with Trabuco Trailblazers 4-H.
During the 2019 San Diego County Fair, Morris showed two mediumweight lambs at the market livestock show, and although neither placed in their weight class, Morris won the market lamb showmanship and then placed second in the junior division of the master showmanship competition. One of his breed livestock ewes in 2019 won first place in the ewe spring lamb competition and also the junior showmanship division for breed livestock lambs, while another lamb won champion yearling honors in the Commercial Grades and Unregistered division and then was selected as the grand champion wether dam ewe. Morris also showed an 85-pound goat at the market livestock show who became the 4-H mediumweight class champion and then the 4-H reserve champion.
The fair's market livestock show limits exhibitors to three large animals, including two from the same species, although the rule was waived in 2020 when the market livestock show was virtual. Morris is one of the sons in Rocky & Sons Show Lambs. Future Farmers of America chapters are associated with a high school so many FFA members continued to raise animals as part of their projects between when the 2020 county fair was canceled and when the fair board decided to hold a virtual livestock show and a virtual auction, although some likely raised fewer animals than would have been the case had the 2020 fair been physical.
Some 4-H members chose not to raise animals at all, and with fewer Rocky & Sons lambs being sold, Morris and his brother showed some of the lambs themselves. Morris showed five lambs and a goat. He won all four 4-H weight classes for lambs. His 143-pound lamb won the 4-H grand champion award and then received supreme reserve champion designation while his 123-pound lamb was the 4-H reserve champion. Morris' 89-pound goat won 4-H heavyweight champion, 4-H grand champion and supreme grand champion awards.
Since 2021 the organization class champions have been based on weight, but there aren't official weight classes. In 2021, Morris showed two market lambs, a market pig and a livestock breed show ewe. His 277-pound pig, his 118-pound lamb and his 145-pound lamb all won their class. The 118-pound lamb was selected as the 4-H grand champion and then the supreme grand champion. Morris' breed show lamb was the supreme grand champion ewe for the breed show, and Morris also won the lamb showmanship competition with her.
Morris also showed two lambs and one pig at the 2022 market livestock show. His 119-pound lamb, Glacier, and his 150-pound lamb, Diesel, both won their weight classes. Glacier was then chosen as the 4-H grand champion and the supreme grand champion.
All five lambs Morris showed at the 2023 county fair are Hampshire crosses. Rocky & Sons Show Lambs bred Unholy, the ram who was nine months old during the open sheep show.
"I had a blast showing him," Morris said.
Unholy was chosen as the champion wether sire for the Commercial Grades and Unregistered division.
"I was so happy," Morris said. "There's a lot of other good lambs in there, too."
Doja Cat, who was eight months old during the breed show, was named the champion wether dam among Commercial Grades and Unregistered division ewes. Gracie, who was nine months old, was the reserve champion for crossbred ewes.
"It shows that I put a lot of work into it," Morris said of taking both champion and reserve champion.
As the Commercial Grades and Unregistered grand champion, Doja Cat was pitted against the Registered Grades grand champion for supreme grand champion ewe and received that honor.
"I was so surprised," Morris said.
"I didn't expect her to win, but I was happy," Morris said. "I was just happy, excited about it."
Morris and Doja Cat also won the breed lamb showmanship competition.
"I was really happy about it," Morris said. "I didn't think I'd win because there was stiff competition."
No Limit Genetics, which is in Modesto, bred a Hampshire cross pig Morris named Dover. Dover, a barrow (castrated male) was 11 months and weighed 266 pounds when Morris showed him at the market livestock show. Dover placed third in his weight class. Morris and Dover were also third in 4-H intermediate showmanship.
"I feel I can work with him a little bit more," Morris said.
Unless the same exhibitor raises more than one animal who reaches the championship drive, an exhibitor can only sell one large animal at the auction. The Ramona Country Fair will take place July 28‑30, and Morris plans to show Dover in Ramona.
Morris showed two wethers (males) in the market lamb competition. CJ, who was bred by Rocky & Sons, weighed 109 pounds and was six months old during the market livestock show. Toast, who was eight months and 150 pounds at the county fair, was bred by Mayo Club Lambs, which is in the Sutter County town of Live Oak.
The county fair had six weight classes for 4-H lambs. CJ and Toast both placed first among lambs in their weight class.
The 4-H weight class champions and reserve champions compete against each other for 4-H grand champion and 4-H reserve champion designation. CJ was chosen as the 4-H grand champion.
"I was actually happy about it. I didn't think he'd win," Morris said. "A few weeks ago he injured his leg so I didn't think he'd be able to show, but he pushed through it."
Toast gave Morris the 4-H reserve champion ribbon. "He's a good one," Morris said. "I was so happy when he won. He was one of my best lambs."
This year the champion drive was June 22. The FFA grand champion and reserve champion, the 4-H grand champion and reserve champion, the Grange grand champion and reserve champion, and the independent grand champion and reserve champion are shown in the champion drive for supreme grand champion and supreme reserve champion.
The 135-pound lamb raised by Fallbrook FFA member Taylor Michalke was the FFA grand champion. Fallbrook FFA member Molly Schmierer raised a 134-pound lamb which gave Schmierer FFA reserve champion honors. Valley Center resident Shealey Belardes raised 125-pound and 126-pound lambs, which were the independent grand and reserve champions. East County Grange member Karstin Wagner had the only Grange lamb in the market livestock show, which weighed 138 pounds, so the champion drive had seven lambs.
In both 2021 and 2022, Michalke had the supreme reserve champion lamb while Morris won supreme grand champion honors. This year Michalke was given the supreme grand champion banner with Morris and CJ receiving supreme reserve champion designation.
"I was happy for Taylor," Morris said. "I was happy that my lamb at least got top two."
Michalke's wether was obtained from Rocky & Sons, as was Schmierer's lamb. Wagner, who lives in Lakeside, bred the lamb she showed at the market livestock show with that lamb being sired by Hobbs, who stands at Rocky & Sons.
"I was just happy that a lot of people won," Morris said.
The showmanship winners compete against each other for master showmanship positions. Morris placed first in the 4-H intermediate division.
"I was surprised because it was my first time winning master showmanship at the fair," Morris said. "I was pretty happy."
The auction was held June 24. CJ and Toast brought $1,300 apiece with Rocky & Sons purchasing CJ and Ocean Hill Equine Medical Group acquiring Toast.