Choosing which feed and which supplements to use with show hogs is just as tricky as choosing the right genetic make-up of the animal. If you talk to any ten different hog breeders, you will more than likely get ten different answers of what they feed, when they feed, and how much they feed.  Just as the genetic make-up and industry standards changes with market hogs, so do the feeding programs and feeds of choice. 

The one constant that should be held, is that 45 days from your show, your ideal weight should be between 180-190 lbs.  If your average daily rate of gain is 2 pounds a day then you would be right at the 270 pound mark come show day.  It is very easy to add or take away 10lbs from your hog, so if you can be close to the 270 pound mark, you should have no worries. 

In order to know what your average daily rate of gain is, it is important to way your hog often.  First thing in the morning will give you the most accurate body weight, as you typically have had 12 hours since feed and water intake is not considerably high during the night.  Remember when keeping track of your weights, that a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds.  Making sure that your hog is empty will give you the most true weights. 

Most people will weigh weekly through the growing process but within the last 10 days before show will weigh daily or twice a day.  If you are trying to hit a certain weight class, it is important to know exactly how much you hog will gain after eating.  Weighing before and immediately after you feed is key to getting this number.  Just because you feed 3 pounds of feed, it does not mean that the hog will automatically gain three pounds.

It is also important to remember that higher protein feeds will cause your hog to gain faster than lower proteins.  Protein promotes muscle mass, and as you have often heard with athletes, muscle weighs more than fat. More often than not, you may decrease your hog's daily feed intake with a higher protein feed and find that their average daily rate gain increases or stays the same.  As you increase the protein, their bodies are creating more muscle mass and burning excess fat.

Having your hog look fresh and full come show day will help you hit the winner's circle as well.  Many times people have to “hold” their hog’s weight for days and even weeks before the show because they are approaching the weight limit.  Holding a hog can cause muscle loss as well as fat increase which is not always beneficial for the industry.  If you find yourself in this situation, there are several meal type feeds that can make your hog feel full while decreasing the amount of fat increase.  Feeding these feed “wet” will also make them expand and thus make your hog's temperament more desirable.  Just like you can get angry or agitated when you are hungry, so will a very hungry hog.

As stated in the beginning, finding the feed, and the feeding program that you like is key.  Choose a program and stick with it for the entire show season.  Changing feeding programs in the middle of the season will not always give you a true and accurate measure of the feeds and supplements you are using.  Make it a year to year experiment so that you can see the hog from start to finish.  Make notes of problems that may have incurred during the feeding duration, as well as things you liked.  Doing this will help you make changes accordingly and obtain a feeding program that will produce winners.