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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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Kirk Swanson has raised hogs since age 7. After nearly 50 years in the business, he is now known for his super-star sow power and for raising an industry-changing sire, Hillbilly Bone.

During the last three to four decades Swanson has built his sow herd on the principles of structural correctness, durability, ease to work with and good maternal characteristics that make productive females to maintain and productive in the crate.

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By, Rhonda McCurry

Each year decisions must be made on which sows to keep in the herd. Breeders may feel a tug at their heart strings at the very thought of culling a sound, easy-keeping, docile sow, but when elite genetics, efficiency and consistency are the name of the game, tough decisions have to be made.

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Lackey Livestock is a show pig operation based in Haskell, TX that consists of approximately 40 Yorkshire and crossbred sows. The skeleton crew includes Jason, his wife, Jackie, and sons Weston (7) and Grant (5). They pride themselves on quality with limited quantity and are passionate about helping hard working kids and families thrive in the show ring. 

One word that best describes how you work: Alone

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By, Rhonda McCurry

It’s sale time and anxious buyers are scanning the web looking for the right pig at the right age. As a breeder you’ve made the decision to video a few of each litter, and put them in an online sale. With a camera in hand you head to the barn, anxious to get some video and send it to your website sale manager.

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Cassidy Hayes and his father own and operate HF Genetics, a growing showpig operation in Port Lavaca, Texas.

One word that best describes how you work: Nonstop

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By, Rhonda McCurry

Worming your show pig should be common sense. But when a study shows 70% of pig livers from slaughter houses in the U.S. are being discarded due to worms it’s time for the swine industry to take better care of their beloved projects.

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Triple L Showpigs in Janesville, WI is a small family owned and operated business that started in 2000.  Laura and Darren both raised pigs growing up, but their families never continued farming.  They took a leap of faith into the hog business together at the age of 22 years old with two small children who are now 17 and 15.  They currently run about 50 sows that consist of Crossbreds, Yorkshires, Berks, Spots and a few Hamps.  In stud, they have six boars that they collect and offer semen.  They both grew up mostly with pedigree swine, but also enjoy the diversity the crossbreds bring to the table. 

One word that best describes how you work: efficiently

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By, Rhonda McCurry

Though the bidding is silent during an online auction, there is a constant roar of excitement on screens each evening across the country. And, though a bidder can’t see their competition during on online sale, there is a way to control and conserve your bid, specifically with the maximum bid feature.                   

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Sorting through hundreds of prospect photos online can be incredibly overwhelming and might leave you feeling more confused than excited. Each seller has a different approach to getting pigs ready for sale, which translates to some pigs that are already bloomy and look ready for the show ring, while others are still very green and natural in their appearance. Ryan Sites gives some insight on how to break them down, so that no matter which look you prefer in a baby pig, you can set yourself up for the best outcome on show day.

Check for Structure
Start off looking at feet and legs. No matter their current condition, their feet and legs need to be structurally correct. “Without this, you’re never going to get all the way to the end,” Sites said.

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Luke McDonnell lives in New Castle, IN where he works as a Channel Seedsman and owns LM Ag Services. In addition, he also owns 50 sows jointly with two of his best friends, Ricky and Megan Rosenbaum in Omaha, Nebraska. They place projects currently with around 80 families across the US. Luke has two beautiful Girls, Johnie Anne 7 and Raynee 5.

One word that best describes how you work: Determined

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