Tips for Success This Show Pig Season

Posted on May 15, 2014 in Swine Performance
By James Thompson

It’s that time of year! Youth across the country are rounding up their swine projects. These projects go a long way in teaching youth about responsibility.  Whether you’re competing at county, state or national levels, the swine project is a great way to build quality family time and a valued work ethic in young people.

No matter the level you compete, here are a few essential “tickets for success”:

  • Selection
  • Swine health
  • Nutrition
  • Show pig management
  • Showmanship

These five focus areas are critical in working for success in your livestock projects.  They work hand-in-hand with each other and will help you get closer to your showring goals.

Understanding the hog’s genetic potential is key in making sure you can perform in the showring. Work with a producer that can provide the correct size of hog for your targeted show and the quality that you desire.

Some key factors to consider when selecting the proper age projects are:

  • Structure: This is the foundation of selection. Make sure your project is sound on its feet and legs, and is able remain flexible on both ends of the skeleton.
  •  Muscle:  Make sure your show pig has an adequate amount of muscle with a nice shape to its top and hip.
  • Skeletal width: Select a hog that is wide-chested and stout going away.  A sound-structured hog with plenty of muscle and “width underneath” can take you a long way.
  • Balance:  Showring presence is a large part of a quality show pig.  An up-headed and level-designed pig will have that desired showring look.
  • Body: A big-ribbed, deep-centered hog is more practical in its look and can often times be easier to feed.

Swine health
Show pig health is very important.  These pigs often will experience a change in environment when purchased and relocated. Without a proper health protocol, your project could suffer drastically.  A proper health protocol consists of a routine vaccination program, scheduled worming and treatment of sick livestock.

Watch your project closely to recognize any illness that may occur (cough, off feed, depression, mucous discharge, etc.) and treat in a timely fashion.   Contact your local veterinarian to assist with your swine’s health and guidelines. Washing and disinfecting facilities before introducing your project is helpful to cut down health issues. Biosecurity can help increase your swine’s health status.  Biosecurity should always be implemented in any swine operation of any size.  Review the National Pork Board’s “A Champions Guide to Youth Swine Exhibition: Biosecurity & Your Pig Project” for more information.

No doubt, a proper nutritional program is important to meeting the full genetic potential of your project. The following products are part of the Vita Plus Pinnacle Show Feeds program:

Show Pig 40 (pelleted feed for pigs between 40 and 110 pounds)

  • Formulated to get pigs off to a good start and promote feed intake
  • Medicated with Mecadox® and Banminth®
  • 20% minimum crude protein and 1.25% minimum lysine

Show Pig 110 (pelleted feed for pigs between 110 and 200 pounds)

  • Designed for rapid lean growth and optimal skeletal development
  • Medicated with Stafac®
  • 19.1% minimum crude protein and 1.2% minimum lysine

Show Pig 200 (pelleted feed for pigs between 200 pounds and show)

  • Offered with Paylean® to increase muscle shape in final stages of growth
  • Medicated with Tylan®
  • 15.5% minimum crude protein and 0.90% minimum lysine

Opti-Soy Energy (40-pound pail)

  • Energy supplement designed for use in swine diets
  • High quality energy source for maximum digestibility
  • 95% minimum crude fat

Paylean Mixer (25-pound bag)

  • Less concentrated form of Paylean®
  • 1.8 grams per pound minimum ractopamine

Show pig management
Many key components are involved in show pig management. Clean and dry bedding with plentiful water is most important.  Your project will benefit when fed in an indoor pen system with each pig in an individual pen.  This is not always the easiest for some, due to facility challenges, but can be helpful when monitoring feed intake, adjusting your projects’ diets, and providing daily swine care.

Skin and hair treatment can be very helpful in giving your pig a healthier sheen.  This can be done with any skin conditioning products and a soft-bristled brush.  As the summer months approach with high temperatures, it will be vital to keep your pigs cool. Use fans and promote airflow in the facility.  Multiple mid-day rinses can help keep your pig cool. (Remember to keep a clean and dry pen. These rinses can be done outside the pen.)

It is very important to begin training your pig a few months before the show.  You should have daily contact with your projects and get them exposed to a showring environment. Get the pigs out of the barn on a daily basis and work them in your yard or a large pen outside. If your pigs appear hot before you work with them, rinse them and keep them cool.  A cool pig will always work better than a hot pig.

Working with the pigs is done not only for exercise, but also to allow time for you to work on “driving” your pig.  Many times, a pig with its head up and moving at a continuous pace can receive a higher placing.  This is also critical when participating in the showmanship division. The best way to learn technique for showmanship is to watch and observe the other showmanship divisions.

Best of luck to you on the upcoming show season!

About the author:  James Thompson is a Vita Plus swine sales specialist, working with pork producers in Indiana and Michigan.  He attended Joliet Junior College in Illinois to earn his associate’s degree in agriculture production and management.  He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in animal science at Western Illinois University, graduating in 2008.  For about three years, he worked as an instructor and livestock judging coach at Fort Scott Community College.  In this position, he taught nutrition, feeds and feeding, and production classes in addition to serving as a farm manager at the cattle, sheep, and hog teaching units.  Most recently, he worked as a junior buyer for a pork processing plant in Indiana.  Thompson also owns and manages a club lamb and pig merchandising business, focusing on showring success.

Category: Feed quality and nutrition
Swine Performance