by Dennis Wilber Eastern Business Unit Show-Rite Manager
Late summer and early fall signify several significant events. Start of school, football, and SHOW PIG TIME. This is the time of year when we get our show pigs that we will show next season. It's a time almost like Christmas, except we get a pig instead of a present. We all take the same exuberance of getting new pigs as opening that present under the tree. This exuberance generally lasts about two weeks and then the new wears off.
Here are some tips to making your show pig projects reach their genetic potential:
THE THREE GOLDEN RULES:
1. Make sure your pig has a comfortable place to sleep and live. If you wouldn’t sleep and stay there; the pig shouldn’t have to. Dry, cool when hot, warm when cold, and CLEAN. These animals are SHOW pigs, not commercial hogs. They need bedding and a comfortable place to stay.
2. Make sure that your pig has a clean place to eat. If you wouldn’t eat where your pig eats, the pig shouldn’t have to. Feed intake is key to making hogs reach their genetic potential and be all they can be.
3. Make sure that your pig has clean, fresh, cool water. If you wouldn’t drink your pigs’ water, they shouldn’t have to. Muscle is made up of 75 to 80 percent water. A pig needs to have clean fresh water to express their genetic potential. Feed intake goes down if water intake is restricted.
After the THREE GOLDEN RULES, here are some other things to consider:
1. Check your pig at least twice a day. Get the pig up and move him around. Check for movement issues, such as restricted movement or swollen hocks. Check the manure in the pen, it should be soft-serve ice cream consistency. Make sure they are not scouring or constipated.
2. Track feed intake - sick pigs don’t eat, they just lie around.
3. When your pigs do get sick, and they will... TREAT THEM IMMEDIATELY. NEVER EVER say to yourself - “They will be better in the morning, so I won’t treat them.” They never are better in the morning. Build a good working relationship with your veterinarian and treat IMMEDIATELY!!!
Start to tame your pigs the day you get home. Put on some work clothes and sit down in the pen. The pigs will then start to trust you and you can bond with them. If you don’t do it early, chances are these pigs will never be tame. Let them root and rub on you. You do the same. Don’t ever hit or whip your hogs. Teaching hogs to walk around with their head up should be done early in the ownership process. They are much easier to break, if you work with them when they are small.
These are just a few tips to get your swine project off to a great start. The biggest thing to remember is to have fun and realize that your show pig project is depending on you to give them the best possible care. Don’t lose your exuberance. Treat your pigs as if it's the very first day you owned him. Now you are learning the parenting role. Treat your show pigs as you would like your parents to treat you.