County fair. County barn. Yorkshire. Hampshire. Grand Champion. These are all common words when you live in the world of show pigs. This story is about Missy, the (now) 600 pound former show pig, and her family (Bill and Bethany, and their son Blane) from Blairsville, Georgia.
PE🐽NY: How did you ever start showing pigs? We began showing pigs in 2009 when Blane, our son, was in the sixth grade. Our County Agent (a U.S. governmental official employed chiefly to advise farmers on farming and marketing techniques and to promote educational programs fitted to the needs of rural people) asked him if he would be interested and so it began. Kids show the pigs through the clubs 4H and FFA.
PE🐽NY: What is 4H and FFA? 4H and FFA are youth organizations that promote life skills. Students in these clubs are the ones who show the pigs. The 4″H’s” in 4H stand for: HEAD to clearer thinking, HEART to greater loyalty, HANDS to larger service and HEALTH to better living. FFA stands for Future Farmers of America.
PE🐽NY: What is the process? So… we get a piglet that is about 10-12 weeks old, raise it and show it at county fairs in the fall and county shows in the winter. (The county shows are usually put on by Alumni groups who help the students.) We get the fall pigs in July or August and show them until the Georgia National Fair in October. We get the winter pigs in September or October and show them until February at the Junior National. Gilts are evaluated for breeding. We can ONLY show gilts and barrows.
PE🐽NY: What is a gilt? A barrow? A gilt is a young female pig. In common use, gilt is used to refer to a pig that has not yet been bred, whether only a few months old or approaching a year. Technically, however, the term gilt is defined as a female pig that is less than six months old. A gilt is intact, or capable of breeding and producing young, and her reproductive organs are not surgically or chemically altered. A barrow is a male pig that has been castrated or rendered incapable of reproducing before he reaches sexual maturity. Castration usually takes place while the pig is very young, at about two or three weeks of age. (If a male pig is allowed to become sexually mature and then is castrated, he is called a stag.) A barrow is less aggressive than a boar, or an intact male pig, and can be kept with other barrows and gilts.
PE🐽NY: Tell me about Missy. Missy was born on April 10, 2013. She is a crossbred pig. This means she is crossed with a Yorkshire and a Hampshire. We bought her at an auction for the show season, fall 2013. Missy was ten weeks old and about 80 pounds when we brought her home. She quickly became part of the family. We house(d) her at the county livestock barn. Missy had a very productive first season. She won the title of Grand Champion (highest honor a pig can receive) three times! After the season came to end, Missy was kept as a breeding pig (instead of going to slaughter). So far, she has produced three litters of piglets. Her first litter yielded eight piglets. We sold all the piglets to students for the show season. Her next two litters produced fourteen piglets each time! Her last litter is being shown for this winter season. (We sell the piglets to students in 4H and FFA). Missy is VERY well known and loved by all! Students that have been around her cannot wait until the next litter is due so they can get on the list for a “Missy Pig!”
PE🐽NY: How did her piglets do? Our first show of the winter season was almost a month ago in Athens, GA. One of her offspring took first in class and Division Champion for lightweight hogs. She also had one place second in class. The student who owns both of these pigs has never had success such as this in the four years she has been in the project.
PE🐽NY: Why did (do) you house her at the county livestock barn? Our county livestock barn is where students that have no place at home to keep their animals house them. Students go there to take care of their animals. We also use it to house our sows (adult, female swines) until it is time to bring them home for farrowing (to give birth). Currently, she is housed there. When she is pregnant, she is housed at the barn at our house. Missy gets A LOT of attention. The students get her out and take her for walks. We did not breed her for the fall season as we were in the process of upgrading her facilities. She will only be in production for another couple of years. After that, she will be retired to our farm where she will continue to be our pet pig.
PE🐽NY: How does a pig become a Grand Champion? Pigs show by weight mostly. They max out at 280, meaning that when we are raising them for show, that is the max they can be to enter. Body volume, skeletal and muscle structure, breed and lean/fat ratio are some other characteristics that come into consideration.
PE🐽NY: What is the latest on Missy? Currently, Missy weighs 600 pounds. When she is here, we walk her on the road and get plenty of rubberneckers checking her out. She is very lovable and gentle. We breed her by artificial insemination. We pick a boar by matching his traits to hers for maximum bone and muscle definition. She is bred twice a year. She is in a farrowing crate for 21 days then the piglets are weaned and she goes back to the barn.
Wow, Missy and family. Thanks for sharing. It is amazing to keep learning about pigs and how they affect the lives of others, in all ways. Show pigs, and house pigs, and pet pigs and companion pigs. The list goes on and on. I LOVE Missy. She is a beauty, a champion and a mother. Sounds like a “queen piggy” to me. Hopefully now we all know a little bit more about the world of showing pigs. I absolutely adore the programs 4H and FFA – developing the youth of today and having fun with pigs – DOUBLE WIN!!!! Thank you for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week and good luck to B and B Showpigs!!! We cannot wait to see the greatness Missy & Co keeps creating. Love, PE🐽NY