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Now the your Pig is HOME! Packing for the show!

If you are like most of us, you wait until the last minute to pack for a show. You end up running around and trying to throw things in the trailer and something is usually forgotten. We are hoping that this list can get tucked away in your brain to help ease the stress of preparing and packing for the show. Whether it is your first show you are attending or your 100th show we are hoping that packing for a show can be stress free!
Before you pack, find out what the unloading rules are at the show. For example, at our county fair, you can take your tack up the day before the pigs arrive. This is great because you can set everything up and then the next day all you have to do is unload your pigs and you are set! However at the Indiana State Fair, you usually only have 15 minutes or so to unload tack and pigs so being very organized is the key (and speedy too)! Also if it is a warm or hot with the sun shining, you will want to unload your pigs rather quickly so they do not get hot in the trailer.

Must haves at the show

  1. Shavings/Bedding – Most shows require you to use shavings as bedding for your pigs. However, we have been to several shows that require straw so make sure that you read the rules prior to the show and know what the proper bedding is. We prefer shavings over straw, especially in the summer months because you pigs stay cooler and cleaner. Also make sure your pigs are used the bedding that you will be using at the show. If you bed with straw at home but are planning on using shavings at the show, we suggest switching to shavings at home about a week before.
    a. Also make sure you have plenty of shavings for the entire week. You will want to keep the shavings looking clean and fresh by keeping the pen clean after the pigs go to    the bathroom. You may need to put partial bags in the pen throughout the week. If you have multiple pigs in a pig, the more you will be cleaning out the pen vs if you have just one pig in a pen.
  2. Feed – This is the most important thing to take with you! You will need enough feed to last you the entire show. For a county fair, most of us live close to the fairgrounds, so you can bring feed up on an as needed basis. However, if you are going to a show farther away, you will need to pack a week’s worth.
    a. Also don’t forget your feed additives and anything else that you have been feeding your pig.
    b. We have all had a pig that has arrived to the show and decided that he/she was not going to eat any more. We suggest taking a different feed that pig isn’t used to. We will bring sow feed or nursery feed and keep it out in the trailer as back up. Sometimes just that change in texture is enough to get them eating again.
  3. Clip Feeder/Pan – We like to feed out of clip feeders at a show. It keeps the pig’s head up and they are easy to use and the pigs cannot flip them over like a rubber pan. You can also unclip these when they are done eating out of them.
  4. Bucket – We recommend taking at least 2!
  5. Show Box – This is where you keep all of your show supplies. Check out our recent blog on what to pack in your show box.
  6. Divider Gates – Most shows’ pen space is limited and you have to put multiple pigs in a pen. Make sure you have a divider for all pigs that have not been penned together. You can find out the pen size by reading the rules or calling someone at the fairgrounds to make sure you have a divider that will work.
  7. Chairs – So you can sit back and relax during the show.
  8. Shovel/Rake – You will need some kind of utensil to clean out your pen with. Make sure you have your name on it too. Ours always seems to walk off!
  9. Feed Scoop – Make sure you don’t forget this! We always do!

Optional Items you may need

  1. Fans – During summer months and warm spells, fans are a must to help keep your pigs cool. Read the rules as to what kinds of fans are allowed in your barn.
  2. Heat Lamps for Winter Months — If you are going to a show and it is cold outside you may need a heat lamp. Make sure this allowed before you put them up. Do to fire safety not all shows allow this.
  3. Extension Cords – If you are putting a fan up, you will need a way to plug them in.
  4. Rubber Mat – If the floor is really slick under the pig pens at the show, a rubber mat can be laid down. This will help the pig not slip and fall in his/her pen.
  5. Nipple Water – Some shows allow you to bring in your own waters to the show. This great for the really hot days to keep your pigs drinking.
    a. Pigs like to play in their water these tend to make the pens messier.
    b. We do not recommend watering out of rubber pans. This is very messy and usually the pig spills the water before drinking it. Water out of a nipple water or a bucket.
    c. If there is a weigh back for barrows and gilts, you will need to watch the weight of your pigs closer, because you do not know who much water they are drinking and we do not want them to weigh out.
  6. Hose – Some shows provide a hose for the wash rack and some do not. It is a good idea to bring a short hose along.
  7. Herder – If it is your first show of the season and your pigs are not fully trained yet, a herder will helpful to get them up to the show area and move around the barn.

We are hoping that this list serves as a guide line as you are preparing for your next show. You may not need everything that we have listed above or you may need something we have not listed. Good Luck and make sure you don’t forget snacks, food, and drinks for yourself!

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 6

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.

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Now the your Pig is HOME! Packing your Show Box

What is in your show box?

Packing your show box is kind of like packing your suitcase. If you are anything like me, you tend to over pack. I am always afraid that I will need something the second I don’t pack it.  This drives my husband Bradley nuts, however I would rather be safe than sorry! Especially when preparing for a pig show.
The key to knowing what you will need in your show box depends on the type of show you are going to. If you are going to a one day jackpot show, you will need to pack a lot less than if you are getting ready for your county, state fair, or any other show that you will be at throughout the week.
First of all, you need to read the rules of the show that you going to. Are you allowed to use oil on your pigs? Is only water allowed? Do you get a tack pen/area or do you have to put all tack above your pig pen? Knowing what is allowed will be the first step in packing. If your show has a strict no oil policy, there is no reason to even pack it! Just leave it at home.
First you will need some kind of show box. It does not matter what it looks like. From handmade wooden trunks to aluminum hanging boxes, they all get the job done. Just make sure that there is a latch and a way to secure the box (even lock it) if needed. When Lynsee and I first started 4-H we had a bright pink and green plastic trunk. It worked great.

Show Box

Show Box

Must have’s in your show box!

1. Spray Bottle – You will need something that you can spray your pigs down with water before going into the show ring. We like a pump stray bottle. They are easy and quick to use. We recommend staying away from watering cans because these can let a lot of water out at once making your pen wet and messy. We recommend that you have 2 just in case one breaks or if you have 2 pigs in back to back classes. One can go up to the show ring and the other can stay back in the barn.

Spray Bottle

2. Big, Soft Bristle Brush – This is to brush your pig down with before going into the ring. This is an easy way to get shavings and debris off of your pig when you are preparing back in the pen. Also the soft bristles should not scratch or turn your pig red.
3. Small pocket brush – This is the brush you have in your pocket in the show ring with you.
4. Show Utensil – Whether you show with a pipe or whip, this needs to make the trip. We strongly recommend taking at least two (just in case one gets lost or broken)
5. Soap – Needed to wash your pig! 
6. Fly Spray – this is very important for summer month shows. You don’t want to spend months preparing your pig at home to have it get to the show and get bit by flies and other insects. Any farm store should have a good fly spray. **note if you are showing in winter months fly spray would not be needed
7. Skin Conditioner – We never leave home without Sudden Impact or Revive. You want to keep their skin looking good at the show.
8. Show Spray – Such as Final Bloom, Peppy, Show Sheen, Purple Oil, etc. There are a variety of different show sprays out there. Just make sure you are allowed to use oil before you use. Also if it is supposed to be warm or hot show day, we recommend skipping the oil and just using water. NOTE** make sure you wash oil off of your pigs right after they are done showing; this will help keep your pig cool as well.
9. Waterless Shampoo – We can’t get enough of this stuff! We normally use Sullivan’s EZ Clean. This is great to use when you don’t have access to a wash rack or if your pig rubs against the gate or lays in something dirty right before going into the ring.

Other Useful Items –
1. Towels – To dry off or clean your pig. (Don’t take your Mom’s new, nice towels!)
2. Number Clip – If you have one, don’t forget it!
3. Feed Scoop – We always forget our scoop when we go to shows! We started keeping a backup in the show box.
4. Wire Cutters/Pliers – these always come in handy.
5. Pocket Knife – you never know when you will need it!
6. Pen/Marker – There is always paperwork to fill out at shows, so it is best to keep one or two in the show box as back up.
7. Zip Ties – If you have clip feeders, signs, or anything else hung up, it is always nice to have a few of these on back up for any mishaps!

We know that everyone packs their boxes different and will use different things. If you are attending several shows throughout the summer, you will find out what products you are using and what you can leave at home. There also may be something we didn’t mention that will you find useful to have in your show box. We hope that this is a guideline for you as you are preparing your show box for shows this summer!

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 5

Now that have spent the first 4 weeks training your pig, let’s focus this week on training the showman! It is important to work on ourselves just as much as we practice with the pigs. So today I am going to go over the basics of showmanship and “social protocols” in the show ring. Even if you are not planning on doing showmanship (Which I strongly encourage everyone to try) it is important that you know the basics of showing, to get the best look of your pig in the show ring. A judge will take you more seriously, if you take showing seriously.

*Keep referring to the previous blogs and continue to walk and train your pig daily! About this time it can get tiring to do the same thing every day, but I promise it WILL pay off!

Basics

  1. Keep the pig moving at all times.
  2. Keep your eye on the judge (this is hard if you are shy, just look at their forehead)
    1. It is important to know where the judge is at all times so you can position your pig in His/her view.  Also this is one of those known things for a good showman.
  3. Keep your pig between you and the judge. Do not block your pig with your body.
    1. To ensure that the judge can see your whole pig, stand on the other side of the pig.
  4. Stay away from the fence and corners.  This is tougher than the others!  My trick is do not let your pig get within 10 feet of them, that way if they head towards the corner you can stop them ahead of time.  (The more you work with your pig at home the less it will want to walk against a fence, thus at home do not let them walk along any type of fencing or railing)
  5. Have a confident posture. Whether you are standing up or slightly bending over to show does make a difference.  DO NOT just follow your pig around.  You need to be standing by the ham-loin junction of the pig.
  6. Do not touch the pig, unless it is very necessary.  Never use your knees or feet to move the pig.  Only your hands, if the pig is being stubborn.
  7. Like we talked about in the last blog, practice showing all three angles: chest, side, and rear.

I HIGHLY recommend attending a jackpot show at least once or twice before your county fair. First of all this helps your pig understand what happens at a show. Secondly you can compare your pig to others and see what you need to do to make it better. Finally, you can watch other showman. Below are links to jackpot shows around the country. (If you don’t see your state it doesn’t mean there is not a jackpot circuit)

Indiana: http://www.ijsc.org/show-schedule.html
Illinois: http://www.illinoisshowpigs.com/showschedule.html
Ohio: http://buckeyeshowcircuit.com/summercircuit.html
Missouri: http://www.mopork.com/youth_myspc.asp
Kansas: http://eksss.net/2101.html
Iowa: http://www.iowaswinejackpotseries.com/showschedule.html
Wisconsin: http://www.wisconsinshowpigassociation.com/shows.html

Below is a video explaining the basics of showmanship and how to practice them in your yard. This is with a gilt that has been following the training routine of our blog, so this should be similar to what you are experiencing at home. As always call with questions! Good luck!

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 4

Today I want to spend some time talking more in detail about building endurance in your show pig.  Whether you are serious about being competitive in showmanship or just want to do well in class you have to have a hog that can “go the distance”.  From a judge’s opinion, it is much easier to pick a winner that is still walking and not looking tired compared to a pig in the corner that is panting and foaming.

I know that most of you are still in school and the plan I’m about to give you will require walking early in the morning.  It is up to you whether or not you want to start walking in the morning now or once you get out of school.

Building Endurance:

Just like an athlete will train multiple times a day, so does your show pig.  A great way is to walk morning and night.  In the morning it is best to walk before the heat sets in, which is usually by 9am.  Thus you will need to be out in the barn by 7:30am to walk and feed before the heat sets in. (Hogs generally don’t like to eat when it is hot either).  In the morning it is best to build endurance by walking distance.  Each day try to go a notch farther.

*Remember we want to push our hogs, but not to the point that they are overheating.  If you notice your hog foaming at the mouth and panting with its mouth wide open then you need to get it back to the barn.  Don’t pour water over the top of your hog in this case.  Start with the nose, feet and flank.  If you pour water on their back it will send your hog into shock.

In the evening, try to walk when the temperature is cooling down.  But this time instead of walking for distance, practice showing.  Have a parent, sibling, or friend pretend to be the judge; or pick a stationary object like a tree or fence post.  Your goal is to practice like you are at an actual show.  Pigs like to follow a routine so it’s helpful to get them used to how they would act in the show ring.  Map off an area in your yard that is about the same size as a show ring.  (You can use yard flags to map off area)  This way your pig will get used to staying in a particular area.  Really work hard on stay away from the perimeter and try to stay in the middle of the show area as much as possible.

I want you to practice three things.  1) Chest shots: drive your pig towards the judge so he can see the chest width.  2) Rear View:  Drive away from the judge so he can see the hip and base width.  3) Side view:  Let your pig walk back and forth so the judge can see how level and sound it is.  Practicing this at home and doing this in a show will give you a big advantage.  A judge always wants to see these three views.  Also, practice pace, a slow steady walk with your pig’s head up.  The key is to practice everything just like you’re at a show.  Stay 10-15ft. away from the judge, showing all angles of the pig. (chest, rear, side).  Once you are done with this workout rinse your pig off and put it back in the pen to cool down.

By working your pig twice a day you will build stamina and endurance.  Remember the sooner you start the better it is for your show pig.  I understand many of you are still in school so maybe do the two day workout on the weekends, or alternate days of distance and show workouts. (ex. Monday walk for distance, Tuesday practice showing)  However, once you are out of school walking twice a day becomes more important.

** I would like to also note that if you have been walking your pigs in groups or two at a time, let’s start trying to walk them one by one.  Remember when they show, their “buddy” will not be there, so it is important for them to learn to walk alone.  This may cause some problems and stubbornness at first, but like we have talked about before, it is better to walk alone now than your pig to go crazy at the fair because it is being shown alone.

Below are pictures of how you need to be practicing showing of an evening.  I am the judge (white shirt) and Bradley (green shirt) is the showman.  The picture with the Duroc is an example of chest shot, and the picture with the Cross is a rear view shot.

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Now that your Pig is HOME! All about the environment!

Where your pig eats, sleeps, and uses the restroom is a big part of their overall health and wellness, food consumption and growth rate.  Where your pig lives at, also known as their pen needs to be big enough so they have separate places to do all of these.  We know that everyone has different size pen space available to them.  Some pens are square with a dimension of 8 x 8 for example and others are more of a run where they are longer and not as wide.  An example size of this pen would be 4 x 12.  We suggest that your pens are also big enough to where the pigs can get up and move around throughout the day since this where they spend most of their time.

We recommend that each pig has their own pen as well.  This is for several reasons.  One is that you can feed the pig individually to reach its full potential.  Every pig grows differently and responds to feed in different ways.  This way you are able to push or hold each pig individually.  You also do not have one pig that is eating all of the food and not allowing other pigs to eat.  Another reason to have pigs in individual pens is that the pens do not dirty as quickly.

Pigs tend to use the restroom near their water and feed area.  This is why we recommend keeping your pig’s feed and water close to each other and on the same side of the pen.  Also, try to keep as much distance between the food area and their sleeping area.  If your pens slope one direction, try to have the water on that side as well.  This is so the water will not run through the entire pen, getting the bedding wet.  Once a pig starts using a restroom in an area, they will keep using a restroom in that area.   Our goal is to control where they do that.  However, there is always that one pig that will use the restroom in his sleeping area!

Feed & Water located next to each other

This diagram is how we have some of our barns set up.  Our goal is for them to use the restroom in the green area.

Sample of a pen lay out

Keeping your pen clean

Keeping your pen clean is extremely important!  This will not only keep the smell down in your barn, but it is the easiest way to keep your pigs clean.  Pigs like to wallow and get dirty.  No matter how clean you keep your pens, your pigs will find a way to get dirty.  Our goal is to minimize this.  Also, dirty pens attract flies, horseflies, and other insects.  This can lead to bug bits on your pigs.  We recommend that you have fly spray on hand and spray your pigs down with this on regular basis.  It is also a great skin/hair conditioner.  You can get fly spray at any local farm store.

Bedding for your pigs

The best thing to do is bed your ENTIRE pen down with wood shavings.  You never want your pig to be lying down on concrete. Keep a manure pick handy and every time your pig poops remove it.   Now you don’t have to sit out there all summer long waiting for your pig to use the bathroom, but go out to the barn and check at least 3 times a day.  This will help keep your shavings clean so you don’t have to keep adding more.  It is best to clean a little out of the pen every day where the shavings are wet or really dirty.  Not only does this lessen your work load, but is helps keep your pig clean.  Messy pens increase sickness and decrease appetite.    If you stay on top of your pen, cleaning out the wet/dirty shavings daily you will only need to clean out the entire pen once a week or even every 10 days.  If pens become messy, they will need cleaned out before then.  Make sure that there is not manure build up.

You do not need the newest, coolest barn in order to have pigs.  All you need is a place to keep your pig out of the elements.  During the cool days and cold nights be sure your pigs are blocked from any wind.  If you do not have a heated barn (which is perfectly fine) place a heat lamp over your pig and place straw or a tarp around the pen to hold the heat in when it is cold.  During the hot summer days and warm nights it is very important to keep the barn ventilated by leaving the door open and a fan on.  Simply keep air moving through the barn.   You also need to make sure that your pig’s pen is not in direct sunlight.  If the sun shines in your pig pen, make sure that they have an area to get out of the sun.  Pig will sunburn!   We will discuss this more in a future blog.

Keeping pigs out side

Many people keep their pigs on sand or dirt.  This is perfectly fine; however it is harder to keep your pigs clean.  It is very important that your pig has some kind of shelter where they can get out of the weather.   You can follow the same guidelines as above, but just make sure you have good secure pen with a shelter.  Also make sure that they have a fresh, cool water supply when they are outside.  Pigs outside tend to sunburn more as well.  They wallow in the mud/dirt to help protect themselves from the sun’s rays.  It is their form of sunscreen!

Keeping your pigs comfortable is key for them to reach their maximum potential in the show ring.  One of the easiest things you can do is keep them in a clean dry pen!  Good Luck!
Aimee & Lynsee

 

 

 

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 3

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

 

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Now that your Pig is HOME! The Importance of Water

We all know how important water is.  It is the most essential nutrient to any living being.  Without water we would not be able to grow, develop and survive.  Water plays an important role for your pig.  It helps with the digestion and movement of nutrients through the body as well as acts as an agent to help maintain body temperature.  Over 50% of your pig’s weight
is water as well.  That is why sometimes when you take your pigs to weigh in, they weigh less than what they weighed at home.

Fresh Water

Fresh Water

We get several questions throughout of the year where pigs just are not growing like they should and more times than not, not getting enough water turns out to be the culprit.
Most of the time, we do not even realize our pigs are not getting enough water until it is too late.  Today, we are going to talk about helpful tips to make sure that your pigs are getting
all of the water they need.

Your pigs need to have access to a cool, fresh supply of water.  It doesn’t matter if you use nipple waters, bowl waters, trough waters, etc.  As long as the water is fresh and cool and your pig has access to it, you should be good.  If your pig is not getting enough water, they will in return eat less, grow slower, and just not perform as well.  This could mean not making weight and not allowing your pig to reach it’s true potential.

Here are few things we suggest you check on and watch throughout the summer to ensure your pig is getting enough to drink.

Most of us know to check on these:

  1. Is the water warm?  This can be a big problem in the summer.  Do you run your water across your yard to get into the barn/pens?  This is a case in many barns there were converted to house 4-H pigs.  If the hose is setting out in the sun, the water will be warm and your pigs will not drink as much.  We suggest that you cover the hose with
    something or bury it if at all possible.  This can also happen if the hose is ran directly along the roof of your barn against a metal roof.  You can just offset of the water line/hose to help with this problem.
  2. Using bulk water tanks – these are great to use if you do not access or ability to put in permanent waters.  Check and make sure the water does not become stagnate and smelly.  Just like cattle tanks, these can start to grown algae and water become stale.

These are things that can get overlooked

  1. Does your pig know how to drink out of the water?   We have this happen to us sometimes.  We have bowl waters in our nursery and grower.  When we move pigs to our show barn we have a nipple waters.  Every once in a while we will have a pig that will not know how to drink out of the different waters.  With some patience and working with the pig, you can teach your pig.
    1. This is also true for when you go to your county fair.  At most fairs, you have to bucket water your pigs.  There are some pigs that do not know how to do this.  We suggest that a few weeks before the show to start them drinking out of a bucket.  This will make fair week a lot easier.  Also, sometimes the water tastes different to the pig and that could cause them to not drink it.  There are many tricks to help reduce the taste difference.  You can use gatorade, lemonade, or any flavor to mix in the drink to give it a different taste.  Feed companies also sell a variety of additives to add to your water as well.2.
  2. Is the nipple/bowl water plugged?  Sometimes the nipple can become clogged or stops working.  This doesn’t allow for a big enough stream of water to come out.  The pig is rinking, but they are just not drinking enough.  We suggest testing the waters weekly to make sure that everything is in working order.
Checking water pressure on a nipple water

Checking water pressure on a nipple water

The amount of water that is required for each pig changes depending on the environment, age of the pig, their diets, and how much you’re exercising them.  That is why we suggest
to have pigs on full water.  That way the getting what they need.  We do suggest that you use some kind of nipple, bowl, trough, or bulk water.  If at all possible, we suggest that do you do not water out of a pan because pigs tend to flip and play in these a lot, causing your pig to not get enough water.

In conclusion, your pigs need fresh, cool water.  If you wouldn’t drink the water, don’t expect your pigs to!

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 2

After a week of your show pig learning how to walk in and out of the barn and is comfortable in the yard, you can begin to work them a little more.  The next step is to teach
them how to turn and walk by using only your show utensil.  Just like before, it will not be easy the first day you try this.

** Try to use the whip or pipe that you will show with.  Pigs like a consistent routine, so if you start with a whip use it the whole time.  A pipe and a whip feel different than each other.  Also, remain calm and just have fun with your pig in the yard.  We still have plenty of time before the show so if your pig is being stubborn, keep a herder board out in the yard with you to help.  The more your pig is out the better it will behave.

Once the pig is out in the yard practice walking your pig straight.  When we tap our pig on the side or belly that means walk straight.  So while your pig is walking, start tapping it on the side to signify straight.  If your pig tries to turn tap the neck and make it stay straight.  If you start letting your pig do whatever it wants now, that behavior will be hard to correct later.  Like training a puppy, be sure to let the pig know you are in charge.

If you want your pig to turn you will tap the cheek or neck of the pig.  Directly under the ear is the best.  If you want your pig to turn right, tap your pig on the left.  If you
want your pig to turn left, tap your pig on the right.

A good question I get is: how hard do I need to tap my pig?  You need to be forceful enough that the pig gets the message that it needs to turn without bruising or hurting your pigs.  Just a ‘tap’ will not be enough in the beginning of training.  It is just like shaking hands with someone.  Too weak of a grip doesn’t give you a good impression.  Too hard of a grip can hurt the other person.  A firm grip is just right!  It you are barely touching the pig, it will never understand and if you get mad and “beat” it then the pig will not enjoy walking and actually be harder to train.  Just a few firm taps under the ear will send the message to turn.

Continue to do this daily and try to take your pig a little farther every time it is out.

The photo below is a picture of me in the process of training a boar pig for the summer.  You could say this is an action shot!  But for those of you that are new to showing, pay attention to where my pipe is, just under his ear.  This is me teaching him to turn left.  I used a pipe, but a whip will work fine too.

At this time we are still not ready for showmanship or ready to go into the ring, we are simply starting to train our pig and exercise them.  If anything getting your pig out
daily to exercise will help keep their joints loose and increase their appetite.

I want to make one last note: Although, I say it is important to get your pig out daily that is if weather permits.

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Now that your Pig is HOME! Part 1

First of all, thank you to everyone who has or is planning on purchasing a show pig from Shaffer’s Gold Rush. We really appreciate your time and business with us!

I am going to start a weekly series, Now that your Pig is HOME, to help guide you on the training of your show pigs and preparing them for the show.

PART 1:

As spring is coming around and the weather is warming up, it is VERY IMPORTANT to be getting your pig out in the yard! It is never too early to start walking and training your pig. Obviously, your pig will not be trained by day one. They are either going to run everywhere or not move at all! This is why it is crucial to get your pig out now, while you weigh more than your pig! The pig is still small enough that you can handle them. If you wait until your pig is 200 pounds or more, you are only setting yourself up for frustration and failure.

Here are the steps that you need to be working on this week/weekend. Getting your pig out of the barn, allowing them to get used to the being in the yard, and getting back into their pen in the barn. Although, this may seem pretty simple, sometimes this is the hardest part of training your animal. Again, very very important that we start this NOW, TODAY, not tomorrow! When getting your pig out of the pen for the first few times, I strongly recommend that you have a helper with you. Someone needs to have a herder board and help guide the pig towards the door. If the pig wants to turn and run back in, gently use the board to push them outside, then shut the door behind you, if possible. **This will require A LOT of patience, remember your pig is simply scared. There is no need to get angry or upset at the pig. It will only be like this for a week at the maximum, so the more you get them out, the better they will be at walking out.

Once you have maneuvered the pig to the yard (it is best to walk on grass, avoid rocks and gravel) just let them do their thing for a few minutes. Let them get comfortable in this new place and sniff and smell around. This may sound silly, but sometimes it is very helpful to have a dog or cat out in the yard with them. Once the pig appears comfortable, start tapping it with your show utensil. This is just to get them familiar with your whip or pipe, don’t worry if they are not responding well.  There is no need to be overly aggressive with your pig at this point.  You have a couple months until the show, that is why we are getting the pigs out now so we can teach them a little at a time. Let them roam your yard a little while longer, but try not to let them root or dig up your yard.

Now the hard part! Getting back to the barn! Again have at least one other person help you by using a herder board. ** Remember staying calm is key, this can be frustrating. Gently guide the pig towards the barn. Stay low to the ground, in case the pigs tries to turn around. Using your arms and hands to guide the pig is best, not your feet and legs. Taking your time is key, if you try to push your hog too far, too fast it may overheat or possibly stress. Remember it is easier to do this while the pig is small, so you are stronger them and can push them in the barn if needed. Once the pig is back in the pen, reward it with food or love!

The key is to make the first couple of outings enjoyable for the pig, so it will want to return outside! You need to repeat this process daily if possible. It may take a week before the pig will walk in and out of the barn on its own.

As always, feel free to call with any questions that you may have!  888-690-2022

Be looking back here at the blog for Part 2 in Now that your Pig is HOME!

Lynsee :)

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