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on Raising Pigs for

a 4-H Project

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One of the most common projects given to youngsters in 4-H is to
raise a hog for show. It doesn't require an expensive building or
a lot of money to raise a pig. And it is completed in a short amount
of time (4 months on average).

There are eight major breeds of pigs that are used for these
projects and all are actively bred in the United States. There
are three white breeds: the Landrace, Yorkshire and Chester
White. These breeds are known for their reproductive abilities
and mothering instinct. There are also five dark breed pigs: the
Hampshire, Duroc, Poland China, Berkshire and Spot. The dark
breeds are known for siring ability and the ability to pass along
their leanness, muscle tone and durability.

You should select your pig based on the characteristics of the
pig itself and the performance of the pigs related to it. No
breed is better or worse than any other. A pig that has been
raised properly and doesn't have health problems will be
vigorous, appear healthy, thrifty and alert, no matter the breed
you choose.

It is important to learn all you can about raising a pig before
you actually get one so that you are prepared in advance for it
to come home with you. You will have to buy commercial hog feed
and have plenty of vegetables and even some treats around for
your pig. You will also have to have plenty of water and a big
enough pen and a shelter for your pig.

For at least the first two or three weeks you must check on your
young pig very often and make sure that it is kept warm, fed and
dry. The pig should have a strong appetite and its body
temperature should be around 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (39
Celsius). Your pig should also have a tightly curled tail; this
is a sign of good health.

Your pig will probably let you know when it isn't feeling well.
You can also look for these signs: Poor appetite, rough coat, dry
skin, gauntness, dull look in the eyes, coughing excessively,
diarrhea, lameness or inactivity.

One of the best ways to make sure that you pig does not get sick
is to have your pig vaccinated and keep its pen clean and free of
debris and feces. (Pigs will urinate and defecate in their water
and their wallows not because they are "dirty" but because of
instinct left over from the wild. Wild pigs are prey animals so
pigs have an instinct to hide their offal in water so that
predators don't smell them out.) Once a day you should clean out
these areas to make sure that the pig does not contract any
illnesses or parasites. If you pig appears sick then take its
rectal temperature and if it is even two degrees above normal,
call the veterinarian.

Pigs do become stressed easily if their surroundings are changed
a lot and there is a lot of activity. When a pig becomes stressed
it is more vulnerable to illness. You should minimize stressful
situations for your pig and whenever possible practice
potentially stressful things like car rides before they are

Get your pig used to getting in the car and riding around. Use
positive reinforcement by giving it a treat and praising it when
it does well. You can take a lot of stress away from your pig
when you teach it that going out and doing something with you is
fun rather than scary. Pigs are herd animals and they love to be
with you.

By the time fair time rolls around you should already have been
weighing your pig for a month so that you are sure to register it
in the correct weight class. Your pig should be healthy, with a
good layer of fat, and weight anywhere from 200 to 240 pounds. If
your pig has been properly fed and taken care of it should have
gained a pound and a half to a pound and eight tenths every day.

Feeder pigs have statistically made the best 4-H projects.
Carefully select the fair you will enter and the pig you will
show so that the pig reaches its growth in time for the fair.

When it is time to go to the fair you need to groom your pig and
yourself for the show. Check with your 4-H Club for proper dress
code when showing your pig at a fair. This is a fun experience
and you will have a great sense of accomplishment when you have
shown your pig. Relax and enjoy yourself -you've worked hard to
get to the fair.

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