How to Train a Show Pig
Success starts at home
One of the most important aspects of showing a hog is making sure the judge is able to view your animal from all angles. A hog show is much different than other livestock shows because the judge doesn't get to line up the animals and walk down and examine each one. In a hog show it's your responsibility to make sure the judge sees your animal. If your animal is not trained or does not drive well, you may miss your opportunity to place even if your animal is one of the top in the class. Here are a few tips to help prepare you for your show.
- Start early. It's never too early to start working with your animal. From the day you bring your animal home, work on becoming familiar with your pig. This will also allow them to get used to and comfortable with you. It's important that you both trust and feel comfortable with each other in the show ring.
- While feeding your pig, you can pet them, brush their hair, and just get them used to being touched. This will make it easier in the future when giving vaccinations, clipping and grooming, and in the show ring.
- At about 60 days out from your show, it's time to start working your hog. It's best at this time to get them out in groups if possible. This helps to keep them calm and prevents the hog from stressing or getting irritated. If you do not have someone else with you, then only bring out one at a time. You want to make sure that someone is with each hog. The first couple times may not go as planned. Just remember it's a process and you'll need to work on teaching your hog what you want him to do.
- Begin by using a whip or pipe, and gently tap the animal near the neck to turn them in the direction you wish for them to go. One of the most important things to remember is to never let your hog root. If they are allowed to root, they will do so every time and will not drive correctly in the show ring; and instead, they will try to root through the shavings or chips. Teaching them to keep their head up from the beginning is a key to being successful in the show ring.
- The first couple times you may notice your hog tires pretty quickly. As each day passes, you want to increase their endurance and build up so that they are able to withstand 30-40 minutes of driving. This allows your animal to show well during their class and ensures that if you are selected for a champion drive directly after your class, your hog will be able to show correctly without tiring. As you get closer to the show — about 30 days out — increase your hog's workouts to twice a day. We recommend working them once in the morning and once in the evening, letting them rest during the hottest part of the day.
- If you are dedicated and make sure you stick to a routine, your hog should be driving like a champ when you enter the ring on show day.