I hope to find everyone that has been reading the blog happy with the progression of their show pig! If you are still having trouble training or have any questions please feel free to ask!
Now we are starting the third week of training and I would like to stress the importance of repetition. Pigs like most of us, like to follow a daily routine. I understand there is a lot going on for many of you with school, sports, band, work, and whatever else, but we need to make sure that we are still walking our pig daily! This is to continue to train them for show day, plus to provide exercise. Exercising daily will keep their joints loose so they will stay sound, increase appetite, and allow regular bowel movements.
Today we are going to start talking about the tricks of the trade. Common questions we get are how do I keep my pigs head up, how do I keep the skin conditioned, and how do I build endurance? If you can master these three things you will be ahead of the game! The problem is too many showman start working on these things too late! It is important to start all of this now.
How do I keep my pigs head up?
There are many ways you can accomplish this, and I think the best way is to do a combination of a couple of things. First I would recommend that the feeder and the water are up off the ground. (Make sure the pig can easily access food and water though) Second, when you are walking your pig DO NOT let it dig in the yard. Take your show utensil and tap the pig under the chin. You may have to do this constantly in order to keep the head up. Again this is a repetition thing. Third if you live next to a hay, grass, or bean field it helps to walk through that so the pig is forced to lift their up. Last, some people put marshmallows at the end of their show utensil and use that to lead the pig with their head up.
How do I keep my pig’s skin condition looking fresh?
The key is to start early and keep the skin fresh the entire time. It would be helpful for you to own either Sudden Impact or Revive; these are about the same products. They are a no oil, skin conditioner. All you need to do is shake the bottle, spray it on your pig, and brush it in. This keeps the pig from getting dry skin and makes their hair look healthy and shiny. You will be able to find this at any farm supply store. If one of these products is too expensive for you that is just fine! Buy cheap women’s hair conditioner, run water over your pig (away from its pen) then rub in the conditioner. However if this is what you do you MUST rinse it out! Do not leave it on the pig or it will clog the pores and make things worse. Also, just keeping your pig’s pen clean will help a ton. You should rinse your pig off every day, unless it is cold in your barn, but only use soap about twice a week. You can take a brush and water and clean off most stains if you stay on top of it.
How do I build endurance in my pig?
Having endurance built up in your pig is the easiest way to win showmanship and do well in placing classes. I will talk more about endurance in the next blog but for now here is what you need to have on your mind. At the show you will get your hog up and ready about two classes before yours (10 mins), you will walk to the holding pen be in there for probably 5 minutes, showing your pig takes about 10 minutes and then if you win you will have to do the process over again, not to mention if you’re going to do showmanship. So that is a LONG time you need to be prepared. By the time your show comes your pig needs to be able to walk at least 25-30 minutes without getting tired! Today your pig needs to be in the 5-10 minute mark. *This is without getting tired and/or stubborn.
I can’t stress enough how important it is that you get your pig out as much as possible, and continue to work on going a little farther each time and work with teaching them how to respond to the show utensil.
Just as a fun note: For those of you in the surrounding area this is the first weekend of the Indiana Junior Swine Circuit!! Four shows will be held this weekend in Richmond, In. Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday! This is a great way to get your hog some show ring experience and see where you compare to other hogs. Here is the link to the IJSC website for more information. www.ijsc.org