4-H Swine Club meets to prepare for Fair season
4-H Swine Club instructor Tressie Carter kicked off the Fair season for those hoping to raise and submit a pig for this year’s competition last week, as she walked 4-H student both new and returning through the basics of walk to look for and be aware of as they cultivate their hopefully prizewinning swine.
“Your breeder is going to be your friend and your go-to in this process,” Carter explained. “Most breeders will never sell you a pig that is injured or sick, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know what to look for.” Carter questioned those in attendance about what sorts of features to look for in pigs they were interested in purchasing for their projects, and received a range of informed responses. “Muscle,” was one response. “Gait,” was another.
Despite many of the students’ familiarity with the Fair competition process, both Carter and Extension Educator Sawyer Fonnesbeck provided more detailed information about the particulars of identifying and taking care of high quality swine in a competitive environment.
Fonnesbeck explained the importance of determining when to switch feed types in order to maintain maximum growth and health during the process. The market weigh-in date for swine is May 9, and the animal must have been under the possession of the 4-H student for 70 days prior to the weigh-in. The current minimum weight for a market pig is 220 poounds, while the standard for a top pig is around 260 pounds.
Carter explained the ideal body shape for a high quality swine, as well as some areas of development to watch out for, including foot development, and neck muscle. Because pigs can grow one to two pounds a day during this process, she stressed it was important to make sure that the growth was a healthy balance of fat and muscle. “It’s easier to watch the weight while they’re growing than to try to take it off later.”
The Extension Office will be offering a number of classes during the Spring Break holiday to help young 4-H students with their market livestock.