Stelle Brack, member of the Eureka Homesteaders, worked countless hours to ready her market hog to show at the 2013 Barton County Fair. It paid off Thursday when her hog received a purple champion ribbon.
A lot of behind-the-scenes time and effort goes into training the pig so it will stay with its trainer as it makes it’s appearance in the judging ring, as well as while it is in contact with the public in the livestock barn at Expo III.
“Honestly, when you first get it, you need to make sure it has what it needs in the pen,” she said. She makes sure the pen is safe for the pig. She waters and feeds it daily, and practices with it each night.
At the beginning, the pig needs to get used to you,” she says you need to practice walking as close to him as you can. Rub him all over, scratch him and hug him.
Then, you begin to train it for show. Brack’s mother helped her by playing judge. She uses a “pig bat” tap it on the left to go right, and tap it on the right to go left, and tap it on the head to go forward.
Once that’s been accomplished, you need to get it calm enough to allow the public to come up and touch them.
Brack continues to work on socialization too, in order to make sure her pig stays calm when it is on display. It has to be able to tolerate people coming close and petting it.
“It was a lot of hard work, because I got my pig late, and didn’t have a lot of time to get it ready,” she said. Her brother had a two week head start on her. She was very proud of her accomplishment when her pig won. He will be going to market following the fair.
The 4-H Swine project isn’t only about teaching a child how to walk a pig around a ring. They also learn several other life lessons that go on to help the child become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. There are several levels of participation in the project, depending on the age and skills of the project participant. Some of the curriculum for the projects include in-depth examination of the biology of the pig, records management, and public speaking and presentation skills. All of these can later translate to other life and employment situations.
Today, the student may be leading her pig around the ring, answering the judge’s questions clearly and with confidence. But someday, she may be leading a company, addressing her peers or customers at the head of a board room.
Brack also brought sheep and a champion bucket calf to the fair.