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Establishing Goals for Your Show Pig

Whether you’ve just purchased your first show pig or are an experienced showman with a barn full of livestock, establishing goals for your project will aid you in your journey to the ring!


Goals are essential as they will contribute to your and your project's overall success, well-being and development. Before acquiring a show animal, take advantage of the points below to help you establish and prioritize your project goals!

 

Establishing Goals for Your Show Pig

Growth

The development and growth of an animal will be one of the most important goals when showing livestock. This requires attention to nutrition, weight, structure and muscle development. If you have a specific show you aim to prepare for, develop goals to ensure your project reaches the optimum weight/appearance at that point. That can be done by selecting an animal of the appropriate age, tracking daily weight gain, slowly increasing exercise, monitoring structure, and altering feed/supplements accordingly.

 

Training

Much of your success in the show ring comes from training your project at home. Setting goals to follow along your journey can be a great guide to the progression of the animal.


Starting out, set goals that are basic and easily achievable. This may mean leading pigs around their pen with a show whip to introduce the idea of holding their head up. As they progress, start walking them in new areas, increasing their exercise time and practicing with them as if you were showing them in the ring. Don’t forget to always reward them after exercising to establish a good experience every time!

 

It would also be beneficial in the training process to allow the animal to get used to you and trust you. This can be done by spending time in the barn/pen with the animal any chance you get and allowing them to familiarize themselves with you. These goals can help your project become one step closer to presenting well in the show ring and achieving success.

 

Skin & Hair

How your project looks on show day can make a huge difference in the ring. If your pig’s skin and hair look clean and brushed, the judge has a pretty good indication you have been taking great care of them.


Like training, this is another portion of success that comes from your hard work at home. For pigs, set goals such as rinsing and brushing twice daily, applying skin conditioner every other day, and even washing 2-3 times a week. The process of brushing creates a clean appearance for your pig and trains their hair to lay correctly. This can aid in the ease of clipping and show day prep.


Although you may not think about it, cleaning pens frequently can contribute to the appearance of skin and hair and can make washing much easier on show day. I see this point as one of the most overlooked things that can change the outcome on show day if prioritized!

 

Record Keeping

Detailed and accurate records of your project can become very useful information in many circumstances. Recording health, administered medicines, weight/growth, nutrition and training can allow you to reflect on your management practices for future reference. You may be able to identify successful practices or even areas that need improvement and implement better management decisions. Recording medicines administered is helpful when calculating withdrawal dates before selling animals. Some shows may even require you to provide a health record of your animal.

 

Financial Management

Learning how to effectively budget and manage your finances is a crucial aspect of the success of your project. This includes ensuring you can cover the costs of proper care and nutrition for your animal as well as participation in shows. Before beginning your project, start by making a budget plan and estimate the costs of various expenses you will face. These expenses will include essentials such as feed, bedding, medications, equipment, skin and hair products, and show products like whips and brushes. Other expenses you might want to consider may be entry fees, travel expenses, and additional expenses with the veterinarian such as blood testing and health papers.

 

Learning & Skill Development

Although a show project is focused on competition, it also becomes an educational journey. A show project offers a unique opportunity for you to learn about animal husbandry, nutrition and showmanship skills. Along the journey, you will obtain valuable life skills such as responsibility and commitment. Make it a goal to immerse yourself within your show project to learn new concepts and skills. Even by setting goals, you can grow through your project, ultimately benefiting you for future development.

 

Networking

The show industry is filled with an array of agriculture connections. It serves as a great avenue to connect with the many people in the ag industry and its various sectors.


Networking and connecting with fellow participants, breeders, mentors and enthusiasts can lead to endless opportunities. For example, you may be given valuable advice, guidance or community. Make a point of reaching out and creating relationships with people in the show industry. Always strive to present yourself in the best way, because you never know when someone you spoke to at a local livestock show can lead you to future opportunities!

 

Establishing and accomplishing these goals along your journey can help maximize your project’s potential for success and well-being as well as your educational development.


At the end of the day, it's all about setting goals and enjoying the journey to the ring. Here's to ensuring your show pig stands out in the ring!


Until next time ~ Taylor


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The Journey to the Ring

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