NEWMAN - An interest in livestock drew Orestimba High junior Landon Mendonca into the FFA program as a freshman.
“I have always liked animals, and wanted the opportunity to show one at the fair,” he explained.
Mendonca, the son of Chris and Kim Mendonca, is currently raising his second FFA steer project and hopes to be able to show in a traditional county fair setting this summer.
Last year, with the county fair canceled, an alternative, one-day event allowed beef exhibitors from across the county the opportunity to show and sell their steers, Mendonca explained.
While appreciative of that, he said, the atmosphere was far different from that which he enjoyed as a first-time exhibitor at the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock.
He hopes to be able to return to the county fair livestock ring this summer, even if the format is not traditional.
“The fair has a lot more energy,” Mendonca said. “At the fair I was there all day through the whole week. I made a lot of new friends from different schools.”
Mendonca showed a market swine project his first year in FFA, and then switched to beef.
“I like the bigger animals. It is more of a challenge, I guess,” he commented.
Mendonca acquired his current steer in January, at a weight of about 600 pounds. He will feed it out until reaching a desired weight of more than 1,300 pounds by fair time in July.
When selecting a steer, Mendonca explains, he studies factors such as the structure, the walk, back straightness and hair on the animal.
Mendonca said he will balance the nutrition to properly finish out the steer in preparation for the show ring.
He spends two to three hours a day, seven days a week, at the school farm, feeding, walking, washing and grooming the steer.
His interest in livestock is more than just passing, Mendonca explained.
He hopes to use the knowledge gained from working with various species to further his goal of becoming a large animal veterinarian.
In the meantime, Mendonca is making the most of his FFA experience.
He attended the Greenhand conference in his freshman year, and this year plans to attend a leadership conference. He also has an interest in livestock judging.
His FFA experiences, Mendonca shared, have been positive.
“I have enjoyed the people,” he reflected. “I enjoy the energy, and the experience that FFA gives you.”