Now that your child has decided to join 4-H or FFA and has chosen to raise a show hog as their project, you may be wondering what you have gotten yourself into, and what the next few months will entail. One of the first things that you want to think about is selection and breed. It is important to understand before you purchase a show hog what your child's intentions are and what they are wanting to accomplish with the project. Many people become part of 4-H and FFA for the experience that it gives their child to work hands on with a project and be able to monitor their success.
For many people hogs are considered to be dirty creatures of habit, when in reality they are some of the smartest, cleanest, personable, market animals you can raise. The selection of your show hog is important as one thing you should remember is that you can not change genetics. Learning what desired traits are wanted in today's market is a must. Most people think that hogs need to be fat, but in reality, the more fat an animal has, the less meat they can provide.
Another quality to look at when selecting a market hog is size of bone. If an animal has a natural large bone structure, then their ability to produce more red meat can be obtained. The larger the frame of a hog, the more capacity it will have for carrying more weight which directly correlates into overall carcass weight. Purchasing a hog that is small in structure will limit how much weight it's body can carry and therefore restrict the overall fast growth of the hog.
It is also a necessity to make sure that your show hog can walk. Market hogs are designed to gain weight rapidly and grow very quickly. The average time from weening to slaughter is 22-26 weeks. During that time period your hog will go from 40lbs to 270lbs. Because of this quick rate of gain, it is necessary that they can move! Having the ability for a hog to be able to walk to and from his feed and water is a must. If they can not eat and drink, they will not gain weight, and therefore will not be market ready in the allotted time.
With all this information you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed but understand that most organizations will have leaders that can help you in the selection of your project. Choosing the right animal is the beginning of your success, so it is important to understand what is desired. Purchasing show hogs from reputable breeders is always the best choice, because they will have an established breeding program and reputation. Enjoy this project with you child and you will be surprised how raising a show animal is not just your child's project, but a family project. It will be a great way to spend time with your family and the learning possibilities are endless.