Finally we are having nice weather for working with our pigs (or at least in the Midwest)! We have spent a lot of time over the last 5 weeks preparing ourselves and pigs for the show! I hope all of you that are following the blog are very happy with your results! As always any questions that you have along the way, feel free to contact us and simply ask.
*Remember to keep walking your pig daily and practice your showmanship skills as much as possible. The bigger your pig gets the more important it is to keep them exercised so their joints stay loose. **Now that it is getting hot out, be very careful not to overheat your pig. Taking your pig to the wash rack (or simply hose them off) before and after you walk will work wonders keeping them cool.
As we are approaching closer and closer to summer shows, I want to talk about your pig’s weight gain and where you need to be. This seems to be the biggest question that Aimee and I are getting lately.
Monitoring Weight Gain
Knowing exactly how much your pig weighs is a MUST! This way you can be exactly sure that your pig is gaining healthy amounts of weight and that you will be on target for the fair. Before you do anything be sure to READ YOUR COUNTY FAIR RULE BOOK! Every county has their own set of rules and weight limits to follow by, however I am going to give you a generalization. Most of the time, the Overall Champion comes from the weight bracket of 250-280 lbs, although there can be exceptions. Most fairs in order to show in a regular class, your pig needs to weight between 220-280 pounds. Remember to read what your fair’s rules are.
Generally for every 3 pounds of feed eaten your pig will gain 1 pound. Normal weight gain for your show pig is 1.5 to 2 pounds a day, thus your pig should be eating about 6 pounds a day. It is important that you weigh your pig AT LEAST once a week and keep an ongoing record of the weights. An easy way to do this is get a dry erase board or a note book that stays in your barn and every Sunday weight your pig and record it. Then compare and figure out how many pounds it is gaining a week. You can do this by taking how much they gained a week and divide it by 7 (or the number of days in between weigh ins.)
What should my Pig be weighing now?
You need to have a range of where your pig should be weighing now and not realize the week before your fair that your pig is 300 pounds: YIKES!!
Here is the formula that we use to configure what our pig should be weighing weekly prior to the fair:
[ (# of days until weigh in) X 2 ] + pig weight today =
*we are using 2 as the average daily gain of your pig, this number can be adjusted
Example: Fair weigh in is July 18th and our pig weighs 140 pounds today.
From May 16 to July 18 is 63 days. So:
(63 X 2) + 140
126 + 140 = 266 pounds ( This is a great weight and we are on target)
If this equation is confusing I made a chart for the range that your pig can weigh right now and make the weight limits at your county fair if your minimum weight is 220 and your max weight is 280. (Again please refer to your county rule book for actual weigh in requirements.)
Weight Range to be between 220-280lbs Fair Weigh-In Date
118 – 178 pounds July 6th, 2013
104 – 164 pounds July 13th, 2013
90 – 150 pounds July 20th, 2013
76 – 136 pounds July 27th, 2013
**This chart is based on gaining 2 lbs a day**
This chart is just a rough estimate at where you need to be weighing right now. If you are looking at this chart and you are going “OH NO! My pig is overweight!” You need to start holding your pig now! It is better to hold soon than later, thus your pig will be fresh going into fair. I recommend cutting your feed in half for one or two weeks (depending on how much you need to slow your pig down) and raise the protein level. Any time you withdraw your pig from food, raise the protein 2% to keep building muscle and bone work. Three pounds a day for one week will slow your pig up. You can add steam rolled oats to their diet, to fill their bellies but they won’t gain much weight from it. Also, just as if a person was dieting, continue to really exercise your pig. *Please keep your pig on full water!
If you are looking at this chart thinking, “OH NO! My pig is underweight!” I recommend putting your pig on full feed and water. Make sure they are eating and consuming at least 6 pounds of feed a day. I would check to make sure the feed is a good quality feed and offers enough protein. I would have my pig on an 18% protein feed or more. Pigs can get ulcers and sour stomachs, so it is always a good idea to add a gut conditioner to their feed about once a week, every month. Just ask your local feed dealer and they should lead you to the proper product.
Also for healthy weight gain, make sure you keep up to date on all vaccinations and worming! Consult your local vet if you are unsure of what products to be using and when.