I mentioned last month that I planned to share a different part of our ‘homesteading’ adventures each month and how we use it to supplement our homeschooling. This month I am sharing about the pig that my son is raising for a 4H livestock show. I interviewed my son so that he could share in his own words about his experience with this project. This is his second time raising a pig and we can already see him applying the lessons he learned last year to this new animal. He is really looking forward to this year’s show (and filling up our freezer again.)
As a parent, I love that this experience helps him with responsibility. He has to take care of his animal several times a day, and train him each day. In addition he is learning about animal husbandry, nutrition, business (he has to raise money and keep records of what he spends) and gaining a better understanding of where food comes from. By North Carolina law the pig must be processed with-in two weeks of the show. We could send it to auction or have it processed for our personal consumption. So this is also a great way to fill our freezer with meat that we raised. We use a local processing facility to process the pig after the show. Last year he also used the experience to do an oral presentation for 4H to improve his public speaking skills.
We are fortunate enough to have the space to raise the pig here in our backyard which makes it easier for my son to care for and train his animal. However, if a child is interested in raising an animal and does not have the space of ability at their home there are often options for having them at local farms or facilities. Check with your local 4H agent or cooperative extension for more information on livestock opportunities in your area.
Tell me about your 4H Pig Project.
“I have to raise the pig for several months until the day of the show, take it to the show and then by North Carolina law it must go to slaughter with-in two weeks of the show.”
“To keep from spreading hog diseases.”
Tell me about your pig.
“I have a black 130 lb Duroc cross pig that is about 2 feet high at his head and 4 feet long altogether. His name is Pork Chop. He will hopefully be over 200 lbs by the time of the show. ”
What do you have to do with your pig each day?
“I have to feed him 5 pounds each morning and 5 pounds each afternoon and then I fill its water bucket every morning. If the pig dumps the bucket I have to fill it again around mid-day. I also have to train it for the show ring so that it will be easier to show. Each day I go out to the pen and practice walking it around with the pig stick. If the pig does well it gets a marshmallow or pop tart as a treat.”
What does showing your pig look like?
“I will take it on the day of the show. First we will do showmanship competition where we see who can best handle the animal. I use a pig stick/whip and tap it on the shoulder or hock to get it to go left/right or forward and guide it around the ring. The judge may ask questions about how long I’ve had the pig, the breed, the feed I use, etc. Then we go into market class, which judges the animal’s meat and build. Finally we go into the auction ring in which you do not actually get rid of the animal like a normal auction, but people bid and sponsor your animal.”
What do you hope to learn and accomplish this year?
“I hope to learn more about better showing a pig.”
What do you think other people should know about showing pigs?
“That is not as easy as it sounds. You cannot leave your house for trips unless someone can come over and feed and water it. They have to be fed everyday. Unlike my chickens you cannot just leave a big bucket of food out for them or they will eat all of the food in one serving and then be hungry.”
We are enjoying having the pig for this short term project, though we are grateful that it is a short term project for us since it does hinder our ability to travel away from home without hiring someone to care for the pig. In addition to my son’s pig my daughter is raising a goat for the show. She is a bit tenderhearted and did not want to raise an animal that had to go to slaughter. Goats do not fall under the same law, so she will be able to sell it as a pet or for breeding after the show. I will share more about her goat and interview her for next month’s homesteading homeschool post. If you have more questions about the pig or questions about the goat feel free to ask in the comments and we will be happy to address them. For more information on 4H in general check out our But I don’t do animals…or using 4-H in our homeschool post.
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Friday Deals and Freebies!
Last Day for a discount on this great Chalk Pastel Bird Course in honor of the Great Backyard Bird Count.