Hard Work, Breeding Pay Off for Sheep Exhibitors

1/19/2013 7:00 AM
By Teresa McMinn Southeastern Pa. Correspondent

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Eli Claycomb was busy grooming his yearling Montadale ram prior to entering the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s small arena last Saturday.

While he wouldn’t end up taking home the supreme champion ram meat banner, he said he was pleased to have made it as far as he did in the competition.

The contest included about 20 exhibitors of rams and ewes from breeds such as Corriedale, Dorset, Hampshire, Merino, Southdown and Suffolk.

The event was judged by Eric Burns of Ohio.

“We’re just hoping to do our best,” said Claycomb, 18, of East Providence Township, Bedford County, Pa. “To say that you even made it to supreme is good.”

Claycomb’s family raises about 40 sheep —including Corriedale and cross breeds — at a time.

His mother, Kathy Claycomb, and girlfriend, Morgan Hall, 18, helped him prepare for the competition.

“These kids have been showing since they were big enough to hold onto their sheep,” Kathy Claycomb said.

Like her son, Kathy Claycomb was active in 4-H when she was a kid and also showed sheep at the annual Farm Show.

Showing sheep, especially in winter when it’s difficult to clean the animals, is hard work, she said.

“You pull a lot of all nighters,” she said.

Christopher MacCauley, 19, of Atglen, Chester County, Pa., won the supreme champion ram meat contest for the second consecutive year.

His friend, Taylor Peck, 21, of Pittstown, N.J., showed the ram with him. MacCauley and Peck attend Penn State University in State College together, Peck said.

They are also members of the United Junior Suffolk Sheep Association’s board, she said.

Derek Wilson, 14, of Titusville, Crawford County, Pa., won the supreme champion ewe meat competition with his Southdown.

He described the experience as “awesome.”

His family’s farm includes about 125 sheep, he said.

Derek said the key to producing an award-winning sheep lies in great breeding.

Apparently, he would know.

Derek also exhibited the supreme champion ewe in the Junior Breeding Sheep Show, which included 13 breeds judged on composition, color, wool and muscle breed characteristics.

Derek’s ewe in the junior show was also named the grand champion southdown.

“We just have good ewes at home that we get good quality lambs out of,” Derek said.

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