Two Rock Ranch lamb raised by 4-H’er fetches high price at auction

— Photo from Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson displays his white dorper from Berne’s Two Rock Ranch at the 2022 All-American Junior Sheep Show, in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

BERNE — A Saratoga County 4-H’er teamed up with Berne farmer Emily Vincent, of Two Rock Ranch, to raise a lamb that racked up awards and ultimately an astronomical price at auction this week. 

Colin Anderson, 15, of Charlton, New York, sold a white dorper lamb for $3,048 at the Saratoga County Fair on Sunday, July 24, Vincent told The Enterprise this week. Colin said that the price represents a per-pound figure of around $24 — almost 2.5 times his original goal of $10 per pound, which would let him break even. 

“And then it ended up getting to, like 15, and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, we’re doing really well,’” Colin said of the whirlwind bidding process. “And it kept climbing and climbing. Once it got to 18, 19, I was in such shock, I didn’t even realize that it got to 24.”

He said that the typical market price for lamb at auctions can range from $2.50 per pound to $4.50, depending on the week. Altogether, his sale, after accounting for the 3 percent that 4-H takes, as well the expense of raising the animal and the animal itself, yielded him a net profit of around $1,700, which he’ll put toward infrastructure in his barn and future projects.

Before its sale, the lamb was designated grand champion of the 2022 All-American Junior Sheep Show, the Saratoga 4-H show, and the Saratoga County Fair in varying categories, including overall. 

Colin, whose family owns a farm in Saratoga County, has been helping raise livestock since he was 8 years old, he said, but he’s more experienced with producing breeding stock than terminal. The two require different mindsets, he said, and are shown to judges differently. 

When showing off a breeding sheep, there’s less focus on the musculature, which producers accentuate with a technique called bracing — basically, flexing the muscles, Colin said. 

As for feeding and raising his lamb, Colin worked with Vincent, who added over 100 white dorpers to her ranch last year and caught Colin’s attention through her lambs’ performances at different livestock events in New England.

“I worked really closely with her to feed the lamb right, see how she feeds her lambs because it might be a little different from how I traditionally feed,” Colin said. 

Dorpers are a hardy breed out of South Africa that, Colin said, “aren’t super popular up here, yet.” Because they’re native to an arid climate, they feed, breed, and grow exceptionally well compared to other types of sheep, according to the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal Science

The ewes that Vincent purchased last year were from Yucca Lily Ranch, in Texas, which, she pointed out in a press release at that time, is renowned for its sheep. Vincent intended to preserve the build and appearance of those sheep at Two Rock Ranch, she had said. 

The 4-H auction program was a fun way for Colin to focus his talents, he said, since he’s drawn t0 the financial side of farming and intends to go to college for agricultural business. It was the first time Saratoga County participated in the 4-H auction program (Albany County, meanwhile, has not yet done so). 

“I really love the business aspect to farming and marketing animals and meat,” Colin said. “I think that’s probably my favorite part. But I really do love all aspects.”

The auction program helped him learn about making connections on the business side, since participants had to source their own bidders. 

Colin was somewhat blasé about the prospect of raising a lamb for the purposes of eating — it’s something he’s asked about pretty commonly, he said — in part because that aspect of farming had always been known to him. 

“I never get super emotionally attached to the animals because I know they’re going to die at some point in time,” he said. “You always have to be ready for it.”

He added, though, that he waited as long as he did to raise a sheep for slaughter “because I think we should be focusing more on the breeding aspect and raising the next generation.”

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