Raising pigs takes a full year to get ready for the Great Frederick Fair

From 40 to 255+ lbs, raising swine for competition takes tons of work.

My+pigs+before+they+are+completely+grown+for+The+Great+Frederick+Fair.+

Ashton Uzarowski

My pigs before they are completely grown for The Great Frederick Fair.

by Ashton Uzarowski , Reporter

The Great Frederick Fair takes place in September each year.  The crossbred pigs I showed last year each weighed more than 250 pounds by the time we were in the show ring.

I sold outright (meaning I didn’t sell at the fair).  One pig, Curly (of Larry, Moe and Curley) sold for $1,400.  I used that money to upgrade the barn, purchase my pigs this year, buy some hunting gear and put the money in savings.

 At the Frederick Fair, the Grand Champion Pig was auctioned for more than $5,000.

 Sounds glamorous, but it is not easy.  The preparation begins now, in April. The four pigs I am raising  are like my 250 lb. children. 

 Getting ready for September  is not easy. The rate of gain is 2.5 pounds a day to get  to the range of 255 to 285. The pig cannot be under or over that weight. If over or under that weight, I can’t sell at the fair. 

You might think about Charlotte’s Web and Wilbur, but my pigs do not live in mud, and there are no rats.  We buy our piglets from a farm in Walkersville, the Inskeep’s. A piglet is about $250 and weighs 50 lbs.

April

I get my pigs in April so that is when the work starts. When I get home with the new piglets. I start with getting them used to me and their new home. That takes about a week. I usually sit with them when I get them so the pigs can get used to me.   

May

This is when the hard work really starts because the weather gets warmer. To start with, I head train my pigs. That is teaching them to keep their heads up when walking, preventing them from digging in the dirt. How do I head train? I use an old fishing pole with a marshmallow on the end of it and put it in front of them and then they follow it while keeping their heads up. 

Also, they get their first bath.  

First, I put them in the wash pen. After that, I get all of the soaps, brushes and sprays. Next, I spray them with water to get them rinse them. Then, I put the soap on and scrub. I let the soap sit for about five minutes before washing the soap off. 

June

June is when it is time for these pig shows called “jackpots.”  They are usually one day long so it is like a mini fair.  I like jackpots because it’s a good time to meet new people and have fun with your friends. My trailer is nothing special, just an old horse trailer that my dad and I redid, but some people have really nice trailers I’m loaded up and at neighbor’s by 5 a.m. Mostly at Timonium, I am at the show early to choose the nicest pens available. At the show, we weigh the pigs in and wash and then show.

We win big banners, ribbons and other prizes.

July

July is an off month. There are not many shows we go to because of the heat. Pigs do not like heat. So I have to keep them wet all day. So when I train them, I do it really early in the morning or late at night. Pigs keep cool with four fans and plenty of hosing down.

August

August is just like July. I just walk, clean and wash, but this is when weight is a good thing or a bad thing. I have to really watch my pigs’ weight and how much they eat and drink because if they do not make the weight, I cannot sell at the fair.

September

The fair is here, it is go time. I start getting the trailer ready and all of my tack and the pig have to be ready for a long, but fun, week. when I get to the fair and unload all of my showing stuff that I need for the week.

The different categories for showing pigs include Showmanship, Market, Breeding, and Open Class.  I usually show three or four times in the week.  

When you go to the Great Frederick Fair, look for me and my pigs!