Every new year brings excitement as you get your new show animals purchased and in the barn. You typically spend a lot of money on your animal, and it also takes quite a bit to feed that pig for several months as well. I would like to discuss the importance of maintaining your excitement and working hard every day at home in order for your project to pay off in the end.
At our barn at home, we live by the mantra: “every day is show day.” While we have large numbers of pigs on feed, and it can be difficult to manage at times, we always give each pig the same amount of attention although it might be a different avenue of attention.
It is of utmost importance to spend time with your pigs and get them trained when they are young. Pigs are very smart and will become familiar with you and look forward to interaction. Early on, we spend time just sitting in the pens with them and letting the pigs approach us. Let them smell on you and touch and rub on you. This will develop trust between you and the animal. After they are used to our touch and our presence in the pen, we introduce a brush, and they usually enjoy their daily brushing.
After they eat, we slowly start letting them leave their pens and walk around to explore their surroundings. It can often times be stressful for animals to leave their “safe spots,” but the sooner you expose them to new areas outside of their pens, the quicker they will train for you.
Slowly introduce the whip to them. Often times, people take a whip to their face and expect them to walk right away, or get aggressive with them if they don’t give a correct response. Take your time and be patient. It should take several days of gentle interaction to get them to understand what you are asking them to do.
Clean, dry bedding is a must. Every day we clean up the wet spots of shavings. It is not necessary to replace the shavings every day, but if you clean the wet spots, you decrease the smell of ammonia in the barn which can, in turn, decrease respiratory issues. We typically re-fill shavings as needed from the wet ones that we remove.
Skin and hair care is just as important as the feed that you give them. On white pigs, we use a basic conditioner and a rice root brush, which exfoliates the skin and allows for a fresh appearance. On darker pigs, we use an oil based product along with a rice root brush. If a pig is a dark color, the darker and richer you can keep their color, the better. You can do this by using oil and sun tanning.
While there are several factors that go into making your project successful, first and foremost, you must give them attention other than just feeding them every day. From, brushing, to walking or just spending some time with them in their pen, the better relationship you have with your animal, they better they will do in the show ring. Take the time to treat them at home as you would treat them at show.
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