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Off to the show

Courtesy Photo Luke Dukart shows a prize-winning sheep at the Rambouillet show at the North Dakota State Fair in July.

DHS senior taking sheep to Kentucky livestock expo

Dickinson High School senior Luke Dukart has been raising and showing sheep since he was 5 years old, and in November he will travel to a show in Kentucky.

Dukart entered 10 sheep in the open and Jr. Ramboillet show division of the 37th annual North American International Livestock Exposition.

The NAILE is recognized as the world's largest purebred livestock show with more than 22,000 entries and nearly $700,000 in prizes and awards. The event is scheduled to take place Nov. 6 through the 19 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

"I'm excited," he said. "It should be a good show."

Dukart has been showing sheep for a number of years, but this is the first time he has shown at the NAILE.

"I was asked by some family friends if I would like to go with them, so I figured I would give it a shot," Dukart said.

Dukart is the son of Blaise and Melanie Dukart. He has two sisters, Alecia and Katelin.

"Raising sheep is a family business. We have had sheep as long as I can remember," Dukart said.

Melanie Dukart says there are many benefits to having livestock.

"Raising sheep or animals in general teaches kids responsibility, independence, leadership and scheduling," she said.

Luke Dukart prefers working with sheep over other livestock because he says they are more manageable and easy to work with.

"It's easy to see he has a passion and eye for sheep," Melanie Dukart said.

"It's just like cattle only on a smaller scale," Luke Dukart said.

Ramboillet is the Dukart's chosen breed because "they are a dual purpose breed. They have both good meat and wool," Dukart said.

"What sets the Ramboillet sheep apart from other sheep is their wool," said Kurt Froelich, North Dakota State University Stark County extension agent. "Ramboillet wool is very fine and the finer the wool the better the price."

The Dukart's own about 70 head and show rams and ewes.

"I pick the ones to show based on which ones are structurally sound and appear to have the most meat on them," Luke Dukart said.

To prepare his sheep for competition he says he "sits 'em up and makes them look good by brushing and clipping them."

"It's a fair amount of work," Luke Dukart said.

"Luke has done very well," Melanie Dukart said. "We are very proud of him, not all kids have the ability to work with animals the way he does."

Dukart says he is looking forward to the show and especially getting to see old friends he's met on his many sheep showing and 4-H travels.