Youth Market Hog Project
Showing market hogs is a good short-term animal project for youth with limited space for a livestock project and for those looking for a good starter project that is less time consuming than lambs or heifers. Here are the basics:
Time Frame: Pigs are usually purchased in early summer 80-100 lbs in order to hit the ideal market weight for show pigs at the NC State Fair in October (240-280 lbs). Even if the participant has no interest in showing at Raleigh, this size pig will usually match up well with the competition all during the show season.
Feed: Plan on feeding about 300-500 lbs of feed per animal during the feeding period. It depends on how much your pigs waste (what type feeder you have) and how efficiently they convert feed to gain. Use a commercially formulated swine finishing diet.
Choosing Show Pigs: You should purchase a healthy pig with good show conformation from a reputable breeder. Cleveland County 4-H will be making a trip to Robeson County to purchase pigs from Anthony Locklear (who has shown numerous NC State Fair grand champions) on July 14. Cost is estimated at $125.00. You are also welcome to source pigs anywhere you like and should shop around for something that fits your budget and your expectations. Pigs should be purchased between July 14 and August 1 and should weigh between 80-100 lbs.
You may show barrows (castrated males) or gilts (females) at most local fairs. Only barrows are allowed in the Junior Market Barrow show in Raleigh. The show at the NC State Fair is "terminal", meaning you won't be bringing those animals back home with you. Plan accordingly.
Housing: Pigs do best housed inside under a roof. Concrete flooring is best but dirt will work also, provided it is completely dry and shaded (under roof). They will also do fairly well confined with electrified wire outdoors in the forest edge. Pigs don't require a large space, about 8-10 square feet per animal minimum but more is better.
Equipment you will need: You will need a good quality self-feeder to hold enough feed that the pigs have constant access to feed. Water is also a necessity and should be available at all times. Bowls and feed pans won't work since they turn them over and spill everything. For showing you need something to drive your pigs with like a cane, whip, stick or something to tap the animals so you can steer them to the part of the show ring you want them to go. Training is not very time consuming as pigs learn quickly if you turn them out in the barn lot or in the yard occasionally and teach them to walk instead of running. You will need a soft brush for washing, water hose, soap, .... Pretty simple!
Shows you can participate in:
Hickory American Legion Fair Hog Show - September 2. There will be showmanship, individual weight classes and pen of 3 shows.
Mountain State Fair, Fletcher - early September
Dixie Classic Fair, Winston-Salem - mid September to early October. Individual market hog and pen of 3 shows.
Cleveland County Fair, Shelby - October 11. Individual weight classes and showmanship.
NC State Fair, Raleigh - mid October.
To sign up, contact the Cleveland County Extension Office no later than June 15. Give them your name, contact information, how many pigs you would like and the sex of the pigs you want if you are not sourcing your own pigs. Then, make plans to join then on their purchasing trip to Robeson County on July 14.