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They’re Baaaaack
by Jessica Carner
Jun 02, 2011 | 4766 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Lila Ariaz-Maglio, of Ariaz-Maglio Boar and Goat in Manteca, Calif., uses a paint stamp to place identifying numbers on the back of one of her boar goats Thursday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Tribune/John Byrne - Lila Ariaz-Maglio, of Ariaz-Maglio Boar and Goat in Manteca, Calif., uses a paint stamp to place identifying numbers on the back of one of her boar goats Thursday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
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Tribune/John Byrne - Pat Ariaz, Lila’s husband, brushes the goat.
Tribune/John Byrne - Pat Ariaz, Lila’s husband, brushes the goat.
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SPARKS — Hundreds of sheep will take the stage in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Saturday, and we’re not talking about “Sheep Dippers” — these are actual four-legged critters that speak in a series of “baahhhs.”

The Nugget All-American Sheep and Goat Show and Sale began Thursday and continues today with a livestock competition in a show ring located just outside the Nugget parking structure, which is currently doubling as a sheep barn, and will culminate with a breeding stock and fleece sale inside the Nugget on Saturday morning.

“Everyone who gets a champion lines up on stage,” Greg Ahart, president of the United Suffolk Sheep Association, said about Saturday morning’s sale in the Celebrity Showroom. “So we have about 20 sheep on stage and then the curtain goes up. It’s quite an event.”

After the grand champions are presented, the livestock sale will commence. The curtain will rise at 10 a.m., Ahart said, and about 600 animals will be sold as they cross the showroom stage.

“Friday night Eddie Money is performing (in the Celebrity Showroom),” sale manager Greg Deakin said with a laugh. “Then Saturday morning is us.”

According to Jim Ketcham, owner of Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment in Edwardsville, Ill., although a large portion of the U.S. economy is suffering, the sheep industry is flourishing.

“Some of these sheep will bring as much as $10,000,” at Saturday’s sale, Ketcham said.

Deakin echoed Ketcham’s sentiments, and said the sheep business is “super strong” and that prices are up from this time last year.

“Lamb prices are at record highs,” Deakin said. “Wool prices are strong.”

Cynthia Huckins of Spring Creek, Nev., attributes the stability of sheep prices to the ability of breeders to gain a reputation for producing quality livestock.

“Lamb prices for commercial sheep are really good right now,” said Huckins, who runs about 50 head of sheep on her northeastern Nevada ranch, Ruby Mountain Sheep Company. “I think it is because most breeders are able to develop a reputation.”

Along with the sheep, a handful of Boer goats, which are bred for their meat, also are being sold this week.

“The wethered (altered) males are being sold for meat,” said Lila Meglio of Ariaz-Meglio Boer Goats in Manteca, Calif. “The females are sold for breeding purposes.”

“These goats have only been in the U.S. for a short period of time,” said Pat Ariaz, as he explained a breeder in Texas brought the first embryos to America from South Africa. “Now there are thousands of them here.”

This is the 32nd year the sheep event has been held in Sparks-Reno, Deakin said.

“This is one of the three largest purebred sheep sales in the United States,” Deakin said, adding there are more than a dozen breeds of sheep from about 25 states at the show this year, and that breeders and buyers travel long distances to be at this event. “There are buyers here from all over the U.S., literally from Maine to California.”

The sheep show has taken place at the Nugget almost every year, except for a period of time where it was moved to the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center while the Nugget was under construction.

“This is about the 15th year we have been back here,” Deakin said.

Ahart said holding the event at the Nugget is convenient for attendees because they can eat, sleep and play in one location during the show and sale.

“It is a really family-friendly event and we have a good time,” Ahart said. “And the Ascuaga family has always been very generous to us.”
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