Showing a market hog
Showing a Market Hog
Andy Harrison, Pine Grove Middle FFA
10 x 12 or 16 x 16 pen – hog panels or comparable fencing. Shade with protection from afternoon sun, pigs can and will sunburn very
easily. Do not put baby oil on their skin to soften. Remember when you used
baby oil for sun tan oil.
Drainage – ability to allow water to run off pen area Pen needs to be accessible by truck and trailer to load out pig unless you want
to carry a 265 pound pig in your arms to the trailer.
FRESH WATER – ideally a nipple waterer or some type of auto watering device.
IF your pig is not drinking water, they will not eat and gain weight. Do not run a water hose across a long distance of yard, the sun heats water up to 140+ degrees. They will not drink at this temperature
Feeder or feed container Consult your advisor
Selection of pig
– consult your FFA advisor
A show pig is like an athlete, they are selected for specific traits and performance.
The neighbor that has pigs probably does not have the genetics or type of pig needed for the show. Your advisor will help you select or pick out a pig for you. You are looking for a pig with a level top from hip to shoulders, sound feet and legs, width in the top or loin, thickness and expression in the hams, clean under the jowl.
The type of pig the market is looking for today differs greatly from what the
judges looked just a few years ago. Gone is the pig with the hard chiseled look or sort of the look of a body builder. Pigs of this type at times carried the stress gene and the meat tended to be dry and lacked the flavor and moisture the consumer demanded. The finished pig the judge looks for today will have some cover or fat for a softer look. Muscle and thickness are still important but not as sharp or hard. The judges also like to see some depth of body and maybe a little “gut” as this means the animal has capacity to hold feed and this is also the bacon area. Also, when everything is equal, structural soundness will separate pigs which are close in type
Successful Feeding of Show Pigs
Achieving success with a show pig relies on several factors. Among these are
good genetic potential, type of care given to pig, time spent with pig, a good supply of clean cool water and a sound nutrition program. How you feed your pig probably will have the biggest effect on how the pig develops for the show than anything you do once you get the pig to your home. Today’s show pigs are genetically bred for performance. To give a simple example, a NASCAR race car is built for high performance and speed
and requires a special high octane gasoline to run to its potential. The same is true with your show pig. They must have s diet high enough in protein to develop the muscle and high enough in energy to gain weight and put on the desirable fat cover. The amino acid lysine is critical and the level is important.
The general feed guideline today is to use an 18% protein feed with around 5% fat and about .9 to 1.1% Lysine. Lysine is the most essential amino acid in a hog’s ration needed for muscle development. A real heavy muscled hog with a lot of muscle expression will need a lysine level on the lower side of the levels. The feed industry has developed feeds which are specifically formulated for the nutritional demands of the show pig. These feeds are designed to develop a lean muscular hog and help the animal gain weight at a fast rate and provide for the proper amount of fat cover that is desirable for today’s market hog. Many of these feeds are 18 to 20% in protein, have a high energy level with added fat, and have the correct level of amino acids (Lysine) required for muscle development. Most modern market hogs today do not require as high of level of protein as they did a few years ago to get the desired look the judges are looking for in the show ring.
Sometimes in is necessary to utilize the feed additive Paylean to be used the last 3 weeks of feeding before the show. Paylean® is a very good material when fed according to directions by developing a lean muscular hog. It is very important to follow the directions as labeled. Feeding at above labeled amounts can be detrimental to the animal. Before feeding a Paylean product, consult you FFA advisor. Not all pigs need Paylean, because the type of pig has changed through genetics as well as what the show ring judge is looking for. For questions on use of Paylean, consult with your advisor.
Below are some suggestions of types of feed that are available that we suggest.
Sunglo 101 – 20% protein pelleted Sunglo 501 – 18% protein - Pelleted Dumor Show Pig – Tractor Supply 18% protein West End Milling – Show Pig Feed – made with Sunglo (Akey) premix)
o Show Pig 2 ½ - 18% protein ground type feed
Purina Honor Show Chow- Show Pig Feeds Sunglo Explode with Paylean® - not all pigs need Paylean. Some may
need smaller amounts than others. DO NOT EXCEED LABELED AMOUNT. My recommendations is not more than 9 grams per ton rate. Improper use can cause problems for you animal. Consult your Ag Teacher before feeding this product
It will be important to know how much you pig has gained and what it
weighs. You may have to adjust intake of feed or modify the content of the feed to reach the desired appearance and weight for the show. Some items in addition to the Paylean products might include beet pulp to expand the gut or middle, steamed rolled oats to restrict gain, additional fat to get the desired level of finish or fat cover. Your advisor can help you with this information.
Since all pigs are different, there is no real way to feed every pig the same.
Consult your FFA advisor on specifics on feeding your pig.
You may have to adjust feed amounts or add other products to the feed
toward the end to help your pig reach the optimum condition and weight for the show.
o Self feeders – convenient – caution to check often so not to run out
of feed. Make sure feed is clean and not molded or insect infested. Clean feeder out completely periodically. Be sure the feeder is attached to something so it cannot be turned over.
o Hand feeding – feed morning and night. You will have a better
idea of feed consumption. Allows more contact with pig getting pig use to exhibitor.
To start with your pig will eat 3 – 4 pounds per day. Basically you will
o Weigh the feed; everybody has a different idea of what a scoop of
feed weighs. The only way to know exactly how much your pig is eating is to weigh with a set of scales. If you do not have access to scales, see your FFA Advisor and they can help you determine the amount of feed you are feeding
o If hand feeding twice per day, put feed out, if pig cleans up feed
and still seems hungry, give a little more. Basically you want to have the pig leave a little feed between feedings.
o Be sure to dump out old feed and clean out feed pan daily. (You
don’t like to eat from a dirty plate).
o It is important to provide plenty of clean cool water for your
hog. They will not eat if they are thirsty. Drinking water tends
to stimulate feed consumption. Water is essential for proper
growth and feed utilization. Bottom line- if they do not drink
water, they will not eat and they will not gain weight. Most of
the problems we see with poor weight gain goes back to lack of
water consumption. A water hose running over the yard for 50
feet to a water nipple is not acceptable since the water in the
hose will probably be over 140 degrees and they will not drink
A further note on feed, just because a feed is the same protein level as another feed, it
may not be the same. The feeds we suggest have a good reputation and have a lot of the
other things in the feed which are important for the show pig. If you want to try another
feed, contact your advisor first. Best of luck with you show pig. IMPORTANT – DO NOT GIVE YOUR PIG ANY MEDICATIONS WITHOUT
FIRST CONSULTING YOUR ADVISOR OR A VETERINARIAN.
– Several times your teacher will want to weight your pig to help you
monitor weight gain to make sure you are on track for the proper weight. This prevents
having a pig which is too light or too heavy to make the show. Your pig should gain from
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds per day. It takes about 4 to 5 pounds of feed to make one pound of
Your pigs will need to be treated at least twice for internal parasites such
at worms. Products such as injectable Ivermectin or Dectomax are good since they reach a higher level in the system faster and also help with external parasites. About two weeks after the first worming use a feed based product containing Safeguard or Atgard which can be added to the feed. These are good because they are easy to administer and they have a different mode of action and target different species of internal parasites which can slow the performance of your pig. Use a different product each time you worm your pig. Safeguard (fenbendazole) must be fed for three consecutive days to be effective. Be sure to consult label for amounts and withdrawal times before the show.
Flies and mosquitoes – these can be a big problem for your animal. Flies hurt
weight gain and mosquitoes leave red lesions on the skin which will cause itching and discomfort. The best way to control these insects is to control the source which means cleaning the pen and eliminating standing water. There are several spray products for livestock to help with insect control. Be sure to watch out for ants as they like pigs.
Exercise and skin care
Walking – taking the time to walk your pig daily accomplishes several things.
First it helps your animal get use to you and walking with you. This is important in the show ring. Secondly and probably most important it help tone muscle and control weight gain.
Brushing and washing – Regularly washing and brushing helps clean the skin
which helps the animal stay cool and the condition of the skin. This helps the skin stay soft and smooth rather than dry and scaly. The animal will fresher in the show ring. Also it helps the animal acclimate to the student.
Protect from sun – pigs will sunburn, keep shade available. Cooling – pigs do not tolerate heat well. If possible at times have water dripping
available or a place for pig to get in mud. Dripping water is better since misting water can cause repiratory issues. This contradicts the washing but a cool pig is a happy pig.
More information later, basically if you walk your pig and use a small
whip or short riding crop to guide your pig it will get you started.
As you progress with your project, there will be many questions, do not hesitate to
contact your teacher for information. If at any time you pig appears sick contact
you’re your teacher immediately.
– The all important topic
Obviously the student wants to make some profit on this project. This is what
makes the activity and time invested worthwhile. This project teaches a lot about financial management, planning, communication skills and self confidence. Following are some key facts to consider:
o The show pig will cost around $250 to $300 o Entry fee $35 o Feed – around $200 - $250 o Figure you have around $500 in the animal ( does not include soap to
wash the pig, some type of driving stick and brush, and clothes to look good for showmanship)
o If the pig sells for $2 per pound and the student is paid another 50 cent per
pound in add on money for a total of $250 per pound. A 250 pound pig will bring $625. A small sales commission comes off the selling price at settlement.
o A real important point is to have as many people at the sale to bid so to
help bid the price up on the pig. It also works to have two or more people go together to buy the pig so the price could be higher.
o Have people that either do not win the bid or there as supporters to put
“add on” money on the pig as an amount per head or per pound. This is handled directly with the student.
o We’ve had students in the past get over $3 per pound in sale price and add
o Important – start seeing potential buyers early. The earlier you see them
and the more often you see them, the more likely they will be there to support and bid at the sale. Newsletters and pictures sent or delivered periodically work well.
The show pig project is a family project. There are times when the student cannot feed or check on the pig so a family member will have to help out. This helps the family spend some time together on a common project. It will take time but usually it helps the student prioritize their time with other school activities and studying. We plan to start buying pigs in early August so get your facilities ready. If you have any questions or interested, please feel free to contact me Andy Harrison Pine Grove Middle School 300 3764 cell – Revised August 1, 2012
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