Age was no barrier for Nicholas Sheridan, who at the age of 13, competed against seasoned cattlemen and sold his registered Black Angus bull for top dollar at the 2014 Klamath Bull Sale.
The ambitious young cattle producer has been raising Black Angus cattle for five years, since joining the Bacon Bits n’ Friends 4-H Club in Newberg. His herd breed is exclusive to registered Black Angus steers, heifers and bulls. “Nicholas raises some of the best stock in the area and has really done well,” says Yamhill County 4-H leader John Nyberg of Newberg.
Quality bulls are often marketed through special “Bull Sales” that are held all over the country. The Klamath Bull Sale is one of the most prestigious bull marketing events on the west coast, attracting buyers from across the nation. The bull Nicholas raised and took to the sale brought the highest price at the sale. “He’s on the right path,” says Nicholas’ father Mark Sheridan who also raised and showed cattle in his youth.
But he didn’t start at the top. “My first 4-H project was a commercial heifer and I didn’t do so well with her. So, I decided I was going to improve. I found a wonderful man in Eastern Oregon and got some cattle from him to start my new and improved herd,” says Nicholas.
Nicholas chose the registered Black Angus breed because of their calving ease, their milk production, their good mothering and their carcass qualities. In his breeding program, Nicholas has placed an emphasis on performance of each animal. “A performance heifer may not look as good as a show heifer, but they have excellent Expected Progeny Differences, or EPDs,” he explains as he looks over the group of heifers he is hoping will calve this year.
EPDs provide estimates of the genetic value of an animal as a parent. The differences in EPDs between two individuals of the same breed predict differences in performance between their future offspring when each is mated. EPDs are calculated for birth, growth, maternal, and carcass traits and are reported normally in pounds.
The bull Nicholas raised and sold at the Klamath Bull Sale will become the foundation bull for a new herd of 200 cows in Monique, California. “I hope to see that bull again,” says Nicholas. The rancher offered to let him visit her ranch to see how the bull is getting on, and to view and help weigh his calves. “That will help me see what I need to do with my breeding program in the upcoming years,” says Nicholas.
“4-H has taught me how to present myself and how to improve who I am,” says Nicholas, who enters Yamhill Carlton High School as a freshman this fall. “It is very good for developing leadership and skills you will need later in life. It has helped me with school and will help with college and job applications,” he adds.
“Through his 4-H club membership, Nicholas has been exposed to lots of other types of animals besides cattle,” says Kim Sheridan, Nicholas’ mother. “It has enabled him to build new relationships. They have become second families for Nicholas.”
According to Nyberg, the 4-H’er is very dedicated to his cattle project: “Between caring for the animals and school, that’s all he does.” Nicholas says he finds he has to explain himself to his friends at times, reminding them that the care of his cows comes before leisure activities. “These animals mean the world to me,” he remarks as he gently strokes the sleek, black hair along a heifer’s neck.
For more information about 4-H in Yamhill County, visit www.extension.oregonstate.edu/Yamhill or call 503-434-7517.
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