My dad has a nifty little portable hog scale, and the weekend before the fair he volunteered to bring it over to weigh Madeline’s fair pigs. This was a big help, because when you get to the fair with your pigs you have to unload them in a specific order. Derby pigs have to go over the scale first, followed by market pig entries. So it helped her decide which ones to enter into which classes. It also gave us an idea which of the 3 were closest in weight to help pick which ones to use in the “Pen of 3″ entry where you want your pigs to be very even and uniform.
Madeline had just made them a mud puddle about an hour before Dad came over, which made the whole thing a messy endeavor.
Once at the fair the pigs get a daily bath up until the day of the show. Madeline recruited her friends Emily and Jadee to help. Having livestock at the fair is one of the most fun things. Lots of waterfights occur at the hog and beef washing stations. Jadee plus their friend Anna also helped all day at the swine show, with cleaning and brushing and oiling. And Anna helped her show her Pen of 3.
Madeline showing her derby barrow
A couple of days before the swine show Madeline said to me, “I don’t care if I get a red ribbon or even a white. I want to show pigs again next year just because I’ve had so much fun with them.” That made me so happy to hear. I’m always reminding her that 4-H is not about the ribbons, it’s about the experience and learning things.
We aren’t able to winter farrow and therefore don’t have piglets available at the right time for a 4-H swine project. So we purchased these pigs from my brother. They’re a nice crossbred commercial pig. Because we don’t pay big bucks for show pigs, and because we continue to follow a natural feed ration, we had prepared Madeline for the likelihood of receiving red ribbons on her pigs. And as more than one other “swine project dad” told Matt, “Just remember, there’s two competitions going on in the ring – the show pigs and the regular pigs.”
So imagine her delight when she was “side-penned” with her very first pig in the ring The show ring is lined on one side by 10 pens, indicating places 1 through 10. The judge looks over the group of pigs being shown, sends some over to the sidepens, releases the rest from the ring, and then takes another look at the pigs in the sidepens to determine final placement. She ended up with 7th and a blue ribbon for her derby barrow, a blue ribbon for her derby gilt, 9th and a blue ribbon for her market gilt, and a blue ribbon for her pen of 3.
For next year she’s interested in ways to increase Lean Gain naturally. So if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments!
Final stats on her derby barrow:
Beg Wt: 58
End Wt: 267
Fat Free Lean.lb: 109.61
Fat Free Lean %: 55.47
Lean Gain: .87
Stats on the winning derby barrow:
Beg Wt: 56
End Wt: 342
Fat Free Lean.lb: 142.25
Fat Free Lean %: 56.21
Lean Gain: 1.11