101 Animals on the Auction Block

Twelve days of fun, during the 2015 Minnesota State Fair, will come to an end on Labor Day. While Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban headlined this year’s grandstand shows, that wasn’t the highlight for 16-year-old Zachary Mattson. This 11-year member of the Ben Wade Blazers 4-H Club won Division II Dairy Steer and took home the plaque for Overall Reserve Dairy Steer.

“Last year I received the second purple in my class but didn’t place in my division,” says Zachary, who has shown steers at the Minnesota State Fair for the past four years. “The thrill of competition and the opportunity to meet new people keep me coming back. Through 4-H, I’ve learned to always set a goal and shoot for it.”

Participating in the Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock 9026 Beef DairySteer Champion Division II Zach Mattson Freeborn Auction-X2Auction is a dream come true for any young livestock producer. This year’s sale on August 29 set a record by raising $498,000 from the 101 animals on the auction block. Each 4-H exhibitor who participates in this “Cream of the Crop” auction is responsible for finding sponsors. Zachary would like to thank the many friends, local business owners and agribusinesses who helped sponsor his steer including: Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, American Foods, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Bright Seeds, Concessionaires, Croplan, Hagens Repair, Kensington Bank, Mergens Family, Midwest Machinery, MinnWest Bank, Paffrath Jewelers, Pro-Ag Farmers Co-op, Runestone Insurance, Staples Seed Service, Tendrleen, Villard Implement, Watkins Family and WestCon.

“Our biggest thanks goes to our Heavenly Father for watching over us and for giving us strength and patience during those days of training when it was especially hard,” says Kerri. She and her husband, Matt, farm in partnership with Matt’s parents.  “To Him goes all the glory for our success. He brought us through and continues to walk with us as we prepare for next year.”

As a new 4-H year year begins, you can bet the Mattson children will sign up for 4-H Beef and Dairy projects as raising cattle is a family tradition for this family. Zachary and his siblings, 12-year-old Austin and 10-year old Taylor, help their parents and grandparents on their farm in west central Minnesota. Their operation consists of a 120-cow dairy, 40 cow/calf pairs and a 200-cow feedlot. They also raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

“We really enjoy working side by side,” says Kerri, who grew up on a Wisconsin farm. “It’s so rewarding to be involved in an operation where parents, kids and grandkids work together to accomplish the day-to-day goals. Our kids learn to handle many situations. They accept responsibility at a young age, and they develop a work ethic they can use everywhere.”

Right now the family is working to help educate consumers about their products. Dairy steers are raised and sold under identical USDA grading systems as traditional beef breed steers. Beef is an excellent food source for protein, vitamin B12, zinc and iron. To help support the product they produce, today the Mattson family is sharing one of their favorite recipes for Upside Down Meatloaf.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of enjoying more beef in your diet, click on the links below:

Upside Down Meatloaf


1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. ketchup

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

3/4 c. milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)

3/4 c. oatmeal or crushed cracker crumbs


Grease loaf pan.  Mix the brown sugar and ketchup and place 3/4 of the mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Mix the remaining ingredients together and put into the loaf pan.  Put the remaining brown sugar/ketchup mixture on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Turn upside down to serve.

If you are short on time use a muffin tin instead of a loaf pan.  Put a spoonful of brown sugar/ketchup on bottom of each muffin, place hamburger mix in and top with brown sugar/ketchup mix.  Baking time gets cut in half.