Jordan and Justin Tibbits of Mineral Point, WI, although commonly referred to as brothers, are actually cousins. Their fathers are brothers who have farmed together for 40+ years. In addition to their own 50 sow operation, the four of them together run 250 beef cows and milk 75 dairy cows. Justin, Ashley (wife) and baby Landry live on the dairy farm where they farrow and Jordan lives a mile away where the sows and beef feed lots are located.
When asked about his best moment showing livestock, Blake Holmes doesn’t have to think twice before he responds.
He was driving his barrow in the grand drive at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) this past November. The judge selected Holmes’ pig as Grand Champion Market Hog, and, he immediately heard his friend scream with excitement from ringside. Holmes said he will remember that moment forever.
Protecting livestock and providing the best form of care is a goal every young exhibitor should strive to accomplish. After all, showing is about more than placing in the ring. Feeding properly and maintaining overall animal health is a big part of raising show projects, and part of the big picture is being able to give vaccines appropriately.
Nathan Weisinger, Fort Madison, Iowa, has a tried-and-true system of processing baby pigs at Weisinger Farms. From the time one of his 150 sows farrow until each litter is weaned, he follows a vaccination protocol that helps maintain healthy pigs. Giving vaccines ensures a strong beginning of life for any animal. Weisinger follows a standard protocol to ensure pigs have a healthy life, and he says starting them off right gives them a healthy end as well.
It's the final drive of showmanship. You’ve made it through the first heat, got penned and are now driving past the judge in an effort to win the coveted award.
Halfway through the final drive the judge approaches each exhibitor, asking a question or two that will help determine the final placing. Even if an exhibitor has had a perfect drive and a banner day, the response to questions can keep the showmanship title out of reach or solidify your spot as the best.
Crane Show Pigs is a 120-head sow operation in Protechett, Colorado, with 80 replacement females and up to 12 boars in stud. It was founded by Steve Crane in 1991 after he realized that college wasn't for him. He packed it up, after six weeks, and came back home to farm and raise show pigs. Steve and Christi married in 2010, combining households and livestock experience. She is the mother to Katherine (17), Elizabeth (13) and Ryder (10). Christi grew up showing livestock in Texas, and working on her family's cattle ranch. Showing has always been in her blood, but she never dreamed that pigs would someday become a part of that equation. Marketing and public relations are Christi's specialty, and her involvement with Crane Show Pigs has helped transform and expand the operation.
When things are going badly in the show ring, it’s normal to want to run.
For one junior swine showman this is exactly what she does. But it’s not because of a low placing or because she didn’t have a good gate. Rather it’s because the clapping and noise of the crowd bothers her. Or because someone didn’t recognize how well the pig acted – versus her – in the show ring.
With what started in 1973 as a purebred Hampshire FFA project, has evolved into the Real McCoy Genetics we know today – a show pig and boar stud operation in Bloominburg, OH that concentrates on Crossbreds, Hamps, Yorks, and Spots. Real McCoy Genetics manages approximately 120 sows and 40-50 boars year-round. Mike McCoy, and his dad Jim, share responsibilities. Mike’s focus is on managing the sow herd, show pig production and helping with boar selection, while Jim concentrates on the boar stud.
You’ve been in the hog business for a few years now. Your farm has nine sows and you have been able to afford to successfully breed and farrow them, selling several of the pigs as show pigs, and you are happy with the results you have accomplished. But now it’s time to expand. You need some capital to grow the herd, purchase more equipment and make investments.
Training a baby pig to drive is not always an easy task. Depending on the age of the pig there are ways to teach it to walk and be successful in the show ring. Paden Jackson, a ten-year-old showman from Mountain View Gotebo, Oklahoma, says the key is to work with your pig every day to teach it consistency.
When a swine breeding decision is made, the owner can only hope the mating produces a healthy, high-quality litter of pigs. Using a new sire or starting a new sow herd can be a gamble, but that’s also part of the fun. From the time the babies hit the ground and are sold as show hogs, then fed, trained and exhibited at their final event, it’s important to keep track of each pig’s progress. Tracking their pigs from birth to the final show, helps the breeder decide whether that particular mating was a success or not.
Each year decisions must be made on which sows to keep in the herd. Breeders may feel a tug at their heart strings at the very thought of culling a sound, easy-keeping, docile sow, but when elite genetics, efficiency and consistency are the name of the game, tough decisions have to be made.
Lackey Livestock is a show pig operation based in Haskell, TX that consists of approximately 40 Yorkshire and crossbred sows. The skeleton crew includes Jason, his wife, Jackie, and sons Weston (7) and Grant (5). They pride themselves on quality with limited quantity and are passionate about helping hard working kids and families thrive in the show ring.