The National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, administrates agriculture and animal husbandry programs at high schools nationwide. Students participating in the FFA livestock program can raise hogs to a specific weight limit and sell the animals at a county or state agricultural fair. Most students raise their hogs at FFA livestock barns at their schools, although students can raise them at their own home setups.
Choosing a Pig
Look for a well-muscled animal with good bones, feet and legs. An FFA adviser must approve each pig before purchase. Most students accompany the FFA adviser to a hog breeder’s barn or a swine sale. This gives students an opportunity to view many pigs and learn why a particular animal is or isn’t a good choice for the project. Take the date of the fair into consideration, as pigs must reach a minimum weight by that time. If a student purchases a pig on his own, the FFA adviser must view the animal and deem the specimen acceptable for the program.
Raising a Hog
Keeping your pig at an FFA facility means you’ll benefit from the regular presence and advice of faculty. Since pigs need feeding twice daily, which means trips to school on weekends. If you keep your pig at home, an FFA adviser should do a home check every few weeks. Before the show, you’ll work on properly showing your hog to the best advantage for judges. In addition to feeding and cleaning up after the pig, you must walk the specimen for exercise so muscles develop attractively.
At the Show
You can show your swine in the breeding class or the market class, but you can’t show an individual pig in both classes. Breeding classes feature purebred stock, while market class specimens are judged against an ideal meat animal. When you bring your pig to the show, the pig will be weighed. If the specimen weighs less than 230 pounds, the animal can’t show in a regular market class but might compete in a lightweight division. Students, meanwhile, are judged on how they present their hogs to the judges.
At the end of the show, your hog is auctioned off in the FFA sale. While the hog becomes the property of the top bidder, you are responsible for caring for the animal until the specimen leaves the show facility. Under FFA rules, you must write a thank-you note to the pig purchaser and place it in an addressed, stamp envelope. Failure to do so means you won’t receive your check for the pig at the FFA awards banquet.