Ingham County Live Animal Auction

For the past 5 years, Saddleback has purchased animals at the 4H live animal auction to support the college funds for some amazing kids and their incredible families. We have been able to donate over $20,000! Due in large part to our community.

The goal of 4H is to help kids develop life skills through experiential learning programs. One of those programs is the LiveStock Auction that occurs at the Ingham County Fairground. Kids are taught responsibility, confidence, and leadership by raising an animal and bringing it to the market to sell for a premium price. Many of the kids use the money they raised to help pay for college. At 5am, when most kids are sleeping, these kids are up feeding, grooming, and tending to their animals.

For the 2021 Live Animal Auction, we wanted to give the community an opportunity to donate to the auction, without needing to purchase an entire hog. We started a fund that people could donate to. Anyone that donated received a Saddleback Gift Card for equal value.

Below we breakdown the amount of donations raised and where the money went.


We also wanted to feature some of the amazing kids involved in the program by telling their story.

First up, Wesley:

Last year we had the privilege of purchasing one of Wesley’s pigs from the show. This year things are a little different, Wesley is competing again, but is also helping coach his siblings through the program. He also took on a new challenge, raising a lamb.

Wesley has many interests outside of the 4H program, he loves soccer, plays basketball, and runs cross country and track. We asked him how he is able to do so many things at once, his answer was unbelievable

“I have to prioritize and plan for what I love to do the most, which means I get up around 6:00 am every day all summer to feed, walk and wash my animals before I go to soccer camp and other sports training all day, and I’m back in the barn until after dark most nights doing the same thing. I do multiple things all year long because I’m trying to learn different things from different experiences, and I love most of all competition!”

When asked about helping his siblings, he said the main goal, aside from instilling a great work ethic, was to let them know to “become friends with their animals … Our show animals become our best friends”

We were curious about where he learned the necessary skills to raise a great animal. He essentially said it is a collaborative effort. His mother, Melissa, is better at certain aspects (training the animals for showings), his father, Tim, is better at other areas (i.e. selecting the best quality food for each animal to ensure the best health for the animal). He also said he learns from other friends he meets at the shows.

As mentioned above, this is Wesley’s first time raising a lamb. We asked him what new challenges this has presented. He said, because it was brand new to him, it was incredibly difficult. The skills he had acquired for raising pigs do not translate with lambs. At first, the lamb, whose name is Fudge, “was a little crazy”. “I asked a lot of questions, but still made the mistake of not training him correctly early enough, so I had to work extra hard later to get him ready to show.”

We were curious about how he was introduced to the 4H program, “My mom and dad were both in 4-H and showed animals when they were young. They always believed what they learned was important for us kids to experience. Since I’m the oldest, we got a couple of pigs the year before I was able to show so I would be able to see what it was like. I have always loved animals and was excited for my first year. Each year is hard work and takes a lot of time every day, but I still love it.”

If you’re interested in having your kids join the program, Wesley thinks it’s a great idea!

“If you are interested in raising and showing livestock I would suggest you do it, it is a really fun activity and a great group of friends – it’s like a big show family! Raising animals is a huge commitment though, it takes a lot of patience, time, and hard work. But when you get in that show ring and do a good job it feels so good. You will feel amazing!”

Thanks, Wesley!



Next up, Meah:


If you have any involvement in the Ingham County Live Animal Auction, chances are you know the Palmatier family. Meah Palmatier has been dominant in the auctions since Saddleback first got involved.

We have made it a loose tradition to purchase the Grand Champion Market Hog every year. Since Meah is so incredibly talented, this means we are often end up purchasing her hog (she has won Grand Champion 3 of the last 4 years!).

We asked her to list a few of her accomplishments:

⁃ Champion Showman for my age division at the fair the past 4 years

⁃ Grand Champion Market Hog at the Ingham County Fair 3 out of the past 4 years

⁃ Top 10 in the Michigan Swine Youth Challenge

⁃ Exhibited the Champion Michigan Breed Purebred at the Michigan Livestock Expo in 2020

⁃ Received the Premier Stockman Award for Michigan Livestock Expo for 3 years.

If you are not familiar with the world of showing livestock, this list is IMPRESSIVE. We often joke that she is the equivalent of the Alabama Football Program for raising animals.

Meah has participated in the Large Animal Auction for the past 8 years. She said this year was slightly more difficult than most. Due in large part to the fact that she and her siblings raised 18 pigs! “Which includes getting up every morning to clean pens, feed, walk and bathe them.”

Meah has many hobbies outside of raising her animals. “Aside from working with my animals I really enjoy playing volleyball at the Varsity High School and National level. I also have lots of fun playing basketball at Williamston. I am very involved in my school being a member of organizations like the National Honor Society, Student Government, peer to peer to name a few. I also enjoy baking and sewing with my Grandma. And like any girl my age, I like spending time with my family and friends.”

After high school, Meah has plans to attend college (hopefully playing volleyball). Then eventually sees herself either becoming an orthodontist or doing something in the agriculture field.

When asked if Meah would like to stay active in the 4-H program after she can no longer compete, her answer was perfect, “I definitely see myself staying involved with the 4H program when I am no longer able to participate. I want to give back to an amazing organization that has helped develop me into who I am today. I want to continue to help younger youth in 4H get more involved with livestock, and find a love for the livestock industry as I have developed.”

Thank you, Meah!