Perhaps it was coincidence, but a day after the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 650 points, the price paid for the grand champion steer at the Fort Worth Stock Show also plummeted.
Mufasa, a 1,329-pound European crossbred steer shown by Ben Bezner of Texline, sold for $200,000 during the Sale of Champions. That’s a nice payday but $40,000 less than last year’s top steer brought.
The steer was purchased by Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Properties during the annual sale of the best junior livestock at the Stock Show, which ended its 23-day run on Saturday.
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The last time the grand champion steer sold for $200,000 or less was 2014. And on only two other occasions in the 102-year history of the Sale of Champions has there been a greater price decrease between consecutive sales. In 1997 and 2009, the grand champion steers sold for $45,000 less than the previous year.
Nonetheless, Bezner, a 17-year-old junior at Dalhart High School in the Panhandle, was thrilled with his payday — especially since he initially thought he had finished fifth in Friday’s junior steer show.
“At first, when the judge was pulling us, he pulled me fifth,” said Bezner, recounting his feelings while in the championship class show ring. “The judge walked us around [some more], and he pulled me first, but I thought he pulled me fifth. So everybody was cheering for me, and I thought, ‘Why are y’all cheering for me? I finished fifth.’”
Bezner said his money will be used to pay for college.
“It will either be Texas Tech or Texas A&M,” said Bezner, who plans to study ag business. “ It kind of goes back and forth every day.”
When Bezner’s was informed that Mufasa had actually been named grand champion, he said, “I was in shock.”
Bezner’s good friend, Austin Breeding, 18, of Miami, another small town in the Panhandle, showed the reserve grand champion steer and it sold for $90,000 to K&L Enterprises.
For Perot, buying the champion steer was continuing a family tradition.
“It’s a tremendous honor. We feel very blessed to be here,” Perot said. “We have been in the cattle business for a long time. My first Stock Show was in 1976 and I bought the grand champion with my father that year.”
Hillwood Properties also purchased the grand champion steer in 2003 ($125,000), 2004 ($132,000) and 2016 ($210,000), in addition to numerous other Sale of Champion purchases.
Saturday’s Sale of Champions featured 291 top steers, barrows, lambs and wether goats. They were among the more than 11,000 livestock shown by FFA or 4-H students at the Stock Show.
A passion for pigs
Jayton Benavidez picked up a passion for pigs from his papa and it paid off on Saturday.
Benavidez’s grand champion barrow sold for $45,000 to Standard Meat Co./Syracuse Sausage, which brought a chuckle from the crowd.
And while the payday put a smile on Benavidez’s face, he said that raising barrows — or pigs — with his dad, Josh Benavidez, is its own reward.
“Dad showed pigs when he was in high school,” said Benavidez, a student at Cameron Yoe High School in Cameron. “It’s something I can do with him.”
And they do a lot together. The 264-pound crossbred named Bigs was one of more than 1,000 hogs the pair have raised together over the last 12 years, Benavidez said. Josh Benavidez said he and his son are “going all the time, either to show pigs or to look at them.”
Half of the $45,000 from Bigs will go into the next bunch of project pigs for the Benavidez duo. The other half will go into a college fund that Josh Benavidez said already holds about $40,000. Someday, that dough will go toward an animal science degree from Texas A&M.
“I want to be a large-animal veterinarian,”Benavidez said.
The $75,000 lamb
Bryce Hamlin knew he had a rock star when he saw the lamb he named Don Juan.
“Good sheep will get you a long ways,” said the 15-year-old who goes to Sands High School in Ackerly, which is just north of Big Spring. “When I was looking at the lambs, [Don Juan] had his head held back and walked and acted like a rock star. I’ve had a few first and second place; but this is the first time I got grand champion.”
Stronghold Resources rewarded Hamlin’s good eye and hard work with a $75,000 bid that is a record for the grand champion lamb. That will go a long way toward college tuition for a young shepherd who wants to go to Texas Tech University, though he hasn’t thought a lot about a major.
“I’m floating in a river of opportunities,” Hamlin said.
The $75,000 was $35,000 more than last year but behind the record $100,000 that was paid for the top lamb in 2011.
Sale of Champions
Grand champion steer sale prices
2018 - $200,000
2018 Sale of Champions
Grand champion steer:$200,000
Shown by Ben Bezner of Texline
Bought by Hillwood Properties
Reserve grand champion steer:$90,000
Shown by Austin Breeding of Miami
Bought by K&L Enterprises
Grand champion barrow: $45,000
Shown by Jayton Benavidez of Cameron
Bought by Standard Meat Co. and Syracuse Sausage
Reserve grand champion barrow: $20,000
Shown by Joe Tyleigh Price of Snyder
Bought by Endeavor Acquisitions
Grand champion lamb: $75,000
Shown by Bryce Hamlin of Big Spring
Bought by Stronghold Resources
Reserve grand champion lamb: $40,000
Shown by Hudson Franklin of Shallowater
Bought by Ladies on the Lamb
Grand champion wether goat: $35,000
Shown by Hayden Schroeder of Zephyr
Bought by Anna Davis
Reserve grand champion goat: $15,000
Shown by Maci Alexander of Magnolia
Bought by Caroline Carter and Mary Kathryn King