Tears as young boy says goodbye to slaughter-bound lamb he reared

Tears as young boy says goodbye to slaughter-bound lamb he reared

By Chris McCullough

These tears are tears of love as a young farm boy says goodbye to one of his own lambs that he reared and is now destined for slaughter.

Growing up on a farm is a real educational adventure for children as they explore the land and learn all about animal production.

In reality, farms produce food and ensure animals have the best life possible before they ultimately are sent for slaughter.


However, after forming such close relationships with an animal a child has brought up since birth, it can be a tough day when they have to say goodbye.

That is exactly what happened to eight-year-old Dalton Carpenter from Franktown in Colorado when he led his lamb through a sale ring before it went for slaughter.

Although Dalton understood clearly why he was doing it the tears of love for his lamb Beans rolled down his face as he led the animal into a truck for its final journey.

Dalton’s parents, Dillon and Brittney, run a small farm keeping a few animals on it but it was the boy’s passion for breeding sheep that persuaded the Carpenters to introduce four breeding ewes to the farm.


Back in March Dalton wanted to participate in the fat lamb project for his first year in the 4-H young farmers’ programme. His parents made it clear to him the lambs would possibly end up being sold at the Douglas County Fair.

The boy proudly reared the lambs, feeding them before school and had them in tip-top condition before the show and sale.

Both his parents are super proud of Dalton for his achievements and how he has matured during the entire steep but rewarding learning curve.

Brittney said: “Proud doesn’t even come close when I reflect on what I learned about our eight-year-old son. Back in March, he decided to do the fat lamb project for his first year in 4-H.


"We made sure that he understood the end would result in one of his lambs most likely being in the sale at the fair and fulfilling its purpose as an animal produced for food."

“Dalton knew he would get attached to both ewe lambs, which he named Pork and Beans, and he knew where one would likely end up. He surprised us with his tenacity when it came to early morning feedings before school and late nights nursing a sick one through pneumonia.

“He taught them how to lead and brace. He measured and weighed feed and supplements as well as making sure they had clean fresh water at all times. I would catch him hugging and loving on them when he would have a quiet moment. There was no doubt that he loved them,” she said.

When it came to the day of the fair Dalton was visibly very proud of his lambs as he walked them around the show ring.

“He had built a beautiful partnership with Pork and Beans. As a mum my heart was so full and I was in awe of my boy. I looked at his dad beaming with pride of his son,” said Brittney.

During the fair, one of the lambs - Beans - made the cut and a very pleased Dalton happily posed for a photo with his prized lamb in front of the buyers.

However, as the auction number was painted on the lamb’s back the emotion finally took over Dalton as the tears streamed down his face.

Brittney said: “That night we watched him proudly walk Beans around the ring and sell her for a number beyond what any of us ever expected. The incredible thing about 4-H auctions is that buyers don’t pay just what the animal is worth, they exceed far beyond their market value because they believe in our children’s hard work and want to invest in them.”

Dalton left the sale ring with a huge smile beaming across his face but as Sunday came the Carpenters knew it would be a tough day.

A colour on Beans' back indicated which truck she had to go to and it was brave Dalton’s task to lead her there.

“My heart ached as I watched my child say goodbye to his partner,” Brittney said. “As much as I tried, I couldn’t help but let the tears stream down my face.

"My boy gave her many hugs. His father, fighting back his own tears, asked if Dalton needed him to take Beans to the truck but he insisted on doing it himself."

With tears flooding his eyes Dalton said one last goodbye to Beans and walked back to the barn where he was embraced with many hugs from other 4-H members wiping away their own tears because they too had said goodbye to their partners.

Brittney said: “My son is my hero. He is bigger than I ever knew. My son ran the race and finished regardless of his feelings and emotions. He loved his lamb, but he knew what was important.

“He raised a great product through blood, sweat, and tears, and he completed his project. He never asked to keep her. He never tried to quit. He gave it his all and succeeded.

“We are a family that loves to eat meat and he wanted to contribute to that in his own way by raising a market animal. He will never forget Beans but is ready to do it all again next year. This is what 4-H is all about,” she said.

And, if you want to know what happened to Pork; well she is back on the farm to be used as a breeding ewe.