(Above left) Dylan Byrum, Andy Mendez, Sierra Garibay, Tina Chavez, Katelyn Byrum pose with their pigs. (Right) Megan Force hand feeds her pig.

Mupu 4-H Members Get Their Pigs Ready for Fair

August 06, 2010
Santa Paula News

After many months of hard work, the 36 members of the Mupu 4-H Pig Project are doing their final prep to get their pigs ready to show in the Ventura County Fair.  It is time to wash and clip each animal, not so easy with a 200 pound ball of energy.  Some of the pigs love getting a bath, while others just tolerate the bathing before running over to roll in the mud.  Clipping the animals before they strut their stuff in front of the judge can be a lesson in patience and perseverance.   This is the final week to do some show ring training.  Teaching a pig to understand how to obey the show stick, to turn on cue, to stay the proper distance from the judge, seems impossible at first.  It takes months of practice to perfect the bond between animal and handler.  Then, to up the challenge, the member must also stay focused on the judge be able to follow any directions given.  Talk about multitasking!

Members bought their pigs in April.  Each owner has spent many hours feeding, cleaning, and training their pigs.  Megan Force, a new member this year, brought up a large dog house for her and pen mate Lesley Veloz’s pigs to use for the first few months.  When the pigs came, they only weighed 30-40 pounds, but they quickly outgrew their cozy house.

The pens need to be cleaned daily, and all members must watch for signs of pneumonia or other illnesses.  The animals are wormed monthly, and fed special feed for show animals that helps them grow with the proper ratio of muscle and fat.  Weight gains of 15 or more pounds a week are common at this point.

Fair pigs are raised in humane conditions, with plenty of room in each pen, daily interaction with their owners, fresh air, clean water, exercise, and are free from excess medications.  Pigs are raised to be a healthy way to feed a family.  A freezer full of pork from the Ventura County Fair makes for many wonderful health-conscious meals.

Raising animals for the fair can also present problems.  This year, one of the breeders sent animals that were too small.  Knowing that each day was critical to get the animals up to the minimum weight, members worked hard from the very start to help their animals to gain weight and stay healthy.  Best friends Sierra Garibay and Anissa Chacon have been going over to the pens 3 times a day to wake up their animals and get them to eat.  They take special treats, like bananas, cake mixes, and milk, to entice their animals to eat.  This is Anissa’s first year raising a pig, Sierra’s second year.   Anissa has found raising a pig has taught her how to handle responsibility on her own without reminders from her parents.

Anissa’s pig weighs 183 pounds and Sierra’s weighs 175.  Pigs must weigh 210 pounds to go to the auction.

Robert Dyer has a satellite pig, meaning he keeps his pig on his ranch.  He has also been working on getting his pig up to weight.  He will find out Tues. morning Aug. 10 if he was successful.

Two members have had their pigs die.  Dylan Byrum and Hunter Santana’s pigs got pneumonia.  Hunter was able to get another pig, but it might be underweight.  Dylan’s pig died after the cutoff date to get a replacement, so he will not have a pig at the fair.  He will be a helper, but will not have an animal to show or sell.

4-H’ers will be selling their animals at the Ventura County Fair auction on Fri. Aug. 13th.  Pigs start about 1 p.m.  Community members are encouraged to come join the fun.  There are different ways to participate in the auction.  Registration is on site at the fair Friday in front of the Clark Pavilion.  After registering, buyers are given an auction number.  That number can be used to purchase an animal, or you can team up with a friend and buy an animal jointly.  Add-ons are a great way to support your favorite young entrepreneur.  To do an add-on all you need is the seller’s auction number and your buyer number.  You get to choose how much to “add-on” to support one or more sellers.

Members who do not make weight do not go through the auction.  Their animals must be sold privately.  Mupu 4-H is going to have many underweight animals this year, so if you are interested in supporting a hard working youngster, please stop by the Mupu 4-H pig pens in the large livestock area at the fair and talk to Carole Butler.  Mupu 4-H members have worked hard this year, they have put in lots of time, effort and money to get to this point.  According to Carole Butler, a Mupu 4-H leader for 24 years, the pig project has never had so many underweight pigs.  It has been a hard lesson on how things don’t always go the right way, that even hard work can’t solve every problem.  So please consider helping one or more of these hard working youngsters.

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