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Showpig.com and The Pig Planet are pleased to co-host our second annual jackpot show! With over $50,000 in prize money up for grabs we are going all in. Check out the details below and mark your calendars for Saturday, June 18th in Lafayette, Indiana.

LOCATION: Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds - Lafayette, IN

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When it comes to breeding sows, timing is everything. And when it comes to equipment a breeder should choose the type of rod that fits their comfort level. 

Sounds simple, right? Yet there are many factors that affect the type of rod a breeder can choose. Showpig.com visited with D.J. Sanders, sales manager for Reproductive Provisions, to get the scoop on what to use and when.

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For the 7,000 youth who exhibited at this year’s event, only the breed champions experience the stage-like atmosphere that being in the Grand Drive offers. This year’s Grand Champion Market Barrow exhibitor can testify to the amazing feeling of being a top winner at OYE.

Karli Schwerdtfeger is a 12-year-old Stratford, Okla. girl who shows hogs and lambs. She hits the National Junior Swine Association’s summer show circuit and in the spring, goes to her county, district and state shows. 

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“What is your best pig in the offering?” or “Which pigs would you consider the top five in this sale?”

These are some of the most common questions that breeders receive when talking to buyers about their online sale offering. However, the answers to these questions are not as simple as one might think. Providing the seller with some basic information about your goals, budget and expectations can lead to a much better answer and ultimately provide you with the best pig for your specific needs.

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Showing pigs is what Taylor Norris loves to do. When she was younger Norris tried gymnastics and still manages to play a little basketball in the winter. But this Honey Grove, Texas, girl has spent numerous hours in the show barn, and on the weekend of February 26, 2016, those hours paid off.

And she’s only 12-years-old.

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 Russell Pedrett has been around show pigs since he joined 4-H at the age of 9. He purchased sows for his project, and by the time he graduated high school he had 30 sows to manage. Pedrett says pigs are all he knows, and they led him to his current career of working for Ottenwalter Show Pigs in Colusa, California.

Seven years ago, Pedrett took three Ottenwalter boars to the Indiana State Fair and the Indiana Crossbred Classic, a venue he believes offers great value for good genetics. They sold those three boars that year for a combined $203,000 and that trip started the desire to produce and market boars in a much bigger way. 

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If you missed it, read PART I :: WPX, A Family Affair

WPX Keeps Growing
The World Pork Expo is the Super Bowl of the show pig season, bringing families and their show pig projects from all corners of the United States to Des Moines, Iowa, in early June.  The WPX has seen major growth in numbers and foot traffic during the past five years, but last year its growth exploded. Brian Arnold, who oversees events for the National Swine Registry, says NSR anticipated growth, but never would have guessed how big it would be. In 2015 there were 4,000 junior hogs entered and 2,200 exhibited. In the open show, another 778 gilts were shown, making the event just shy of 5,000 hogs and the largest swine show of the year.

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It’s the Super Bowl of the swine industry. The week-long event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds includes junior swine shows, open pig shows and sales, a huge trade show and international visitors. It’s a chance to build business relationships, rekindle friendships, conduct business and have fun. One week may not be long enough, for this granddaddy of an event that takes place each June. But, what is this event?

It’s the World Pork Expo. And it’s approaching for swine exhibitors, breeders, trade show reps and international visitors once again this summer.

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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.  

One word that best describes how you work:  Spontaneously. We might plan to process some pigs or collect the boars but on a regular basis we get caught up in other stuff on the farm with the dairy and beef and have to delay what we plan to do until later on in the day. You never know what your day is going to be like around here!

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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.

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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.

For swine breeders there are very common and specific vaccines they should administer to ensure herd health and productive litters.

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Baby it’s cold outside. But hopefully your showpigs aren’t cold.

Showpig.com visited with two regional experts on how they manage the cold and what it means to the success of their showpig operations.

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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.

On day one, Weisinger and his crew will pick up every hog and ear notch it. He gives a 1.5 CC shot of iron and also docks each tail. Another must-do is giving them a 0.2 of a CC shot of Excede, a penicillin-type medication that will stay in their system longer than a simple penicillin shot.

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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.

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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. 

One word that best describes how you work: Organized

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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.

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 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.

One word that best describes how you work: Can I have a few? Always on the go!

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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.

How do you begin? What is the best way to do expand financially? Is it smart to take out a loan and if so,  for how much and how long?

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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.

Paden was just six when he showed his first Crossbred barrow. He attended free fairs and jackpot shows and has worked his way up to showing at the Oklahoma Youth Expo (OYE), one of the largest junior swine shows in the country. His older sister, Kate, taught him how to work with his hogs and together they train their pigs to respond to being driven.

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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.

Rick Whitman, owner of RW Genetics in Anderson, Texas, says it’s his job to know the success and failures of his breeding results. With 120 crossbred, 50 Duroc and 25 Yorkshire sows, he produces pigs for the show ring, supplies breeding stock and has placed about 100 boars in stud.

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