4H Pigs ???

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Peace n Quiet, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. Peace n Quiet

    Peace n Quiet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pa
    This year my kids are looking to do a pig project for 4H. Although we're familiar with other livestock, we have never raised a pig before so this will be a new experience.
    I've found out that the kids buy their piglets in April, and register for the local club by May 1st. Being that I am pregnant, and due in March, I would like to get everything ready for the pigs now... so that when they arrive that part of the work is already done.
    Now for the questions....
    What do you keep your piglets in? What feed/supplements are recommended? Please keep in mind that while the kids will be showing the pigs, we aren't looking to buy "show pigs" - something that's done quite seriously around here. I just want my kids to learn about raising these animals, and hopefully, do it successfully enough to get them to the correct weight for the fair and sale - and manage to look and feel respectable through the whole learning process.
    Also, what are you paying for piglets in your area? I've checked around, and prices here are anywhere from $40 to $150 per pig. (of course the higher $$ are for show quality)
     
  2. Hi Peace n Quiet,
    Where are you located? When is your fair?
    Better get those younguns in a 4-H club before the baby comes. Some clubs organize in January or even right after last year's fair and some push the sign-up deadline. That's bad for the kids though. Too much to do between then and the judgings.
    For the kids' sake, please get them a decent pig if you can. Judges can squash them pretty quick. Hopefully, your fair show is set up so that the classes are small, but a fat pig gets very little attention from the judge and the kid senses that real quick. The kid can usually do ok in showmanship with any judge as long as they have a clean and well-mannered pig. Pig shows can be stressful on the animal, especially if it's hot. Our boys usually have two pigs each and they take their nicer pig out for showmanship.
    Buy a good show feed (for a good pig), ask at the feedmill when to switch to the next protein level. It's just as expensive to feed a poor quality pig as a high quality one. And, you can make a good pig fat by not feeding a balanced feed.
    Pigs don't need a lot of room, you can raise each pig in a 4X4 pen with wood or concrete floor. They will root under just about any fence on dirt unless you add electric on the bottom inside. They need exercise, so if kept in a small pen, the kids will need to get them out and walk them. It can be a lot of fun, bring the camera!
    Getting a pig to the right weight will be tricky for you if you don't have any type of scales. And a pig can lose 10 pounds quick. If they are eating right they should gain right. Make sure to use the pellet feed wormer as directed by your feed dealer.
    Read the 4-H books, there is good info in there. I believe there are resources at showpig.com, I usually go there for AI websites.
    $100 at a publicized sale should buy you a decent pig. You might go to the "end of the season" sale for the cheapest pigs. Very few quality farms will let you come on the farm to buy because of the possibility of spreading diseases.
    Raising two pigs together is better than one. They eat and grow better, they are more content.
    DON'T do what your neighbor is doing just because you think he knows what he is doing. The folks that win or are trying to win may be pushing the rules and you don't want to be caught up in that.
    A pig does not have to have his hair cut to do well. There's tons of controversy over that and to be safe, only use plain soap water on your pig, nothing with oil.
    I wish you the best of luck! Our youngest son will be showing for the final time in 2004 and it's been a ride. Our oldest son won Grand Champion at the 2002 fair and it was all worth it to see that smile on his face. There's a long story behind pigs at our place. Even though we grew up a few miles apart, my husband and I found each other because I wanted to meet him (he was in my brother's 4-H club in the years when they were segregated), so I told my parents I wanted a pig for 4-H, not just any pig, but a red pig and I knew where to get one. (My future husband and his dad were raising red pigs!) As the story goes, our oldest (after taking cheap fat pigs for 2 years) wanted a good red pig when he was 14 yo, so against DH's wishes, I took the boys to a sale and bought a "birthday" gilt for my son. It was his project and DH started getting excited and involved too. The folks from whom we purchased the pig traveled to see her during the summer and became friends of ours. She won her class, but was too big, which was ok because DS wanted to take her home anyhow. He took her homegrown pigs the next couple of years.
    I wish you the best with the baby and the pigs!
     

  3. I know my reply was long, but I left out the following:
    Your market pigs should be 6 months to 6 months, two weeks old on the day weigh-in at your fair, so count back and buy this age pig, not a day younger!
    Check your local rules for any dates/deadlines regarding a spring weigh-in.
    And, your pigs must be kept cool or wet during the summer. Pigs do not sweat.
    Happy New Year!
     
  4. Peace n Quiet

    Peace n Quiet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the advice... keep it coming if you think of anything else.
    We are in Ne Pa, and our fair is the third week of August. We plan on buying 4 - maybe 5 pigs, two for each kid, and one for us to butcher.
     
  5. mamagoose

    mamagoose Well-Known Member

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    SE Ohio
    Those were my replies above, I wasn't logged in earlier.

    mamagoose