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4-H clover Minnesota State Fair 4-H swine marketing

The Minnesota 4-H Swine Project provides 4-H members a way to learn about and participate in the swine industry. This includes raising and exhibiting both breeding and market swine. Market swine, barrows and gilts are raised for the purpose of producing a safe and quality product to consumers of pork products. In years past, the 4-H Swine Show at the Minnesota State Fair has been terminal for all market swine exhibitors and optional for those exhibiting in the breeding gilt classes. Due to changing market demands and trends in consumer purchasing, the Minnesota State Fair 4-H Swine Show will be non-terminal except for market pigs that participate in the Purple Ribbon Auction. All pigs that participate in the Purple Ribbon Auction are terminal.

What does this mean?

This means that all swine that are exhibited during the 4-H encampment at the Minnesota State Fair will be given the option of being marketed to a buyer or returning home. However, all Purple Ribbon Auction pigs will still be required to be marketed through the state fair.

Does this mean I can’t market my pig following the state 4-H swine show?

No. We feel that it is extremely important that we still provide 4-H'ers with a way to market their exhibit and minimize biosecurity risks. As you cross the scale during weigh-ins you will declare if you would like to market your animal or if you plan to take the animal home.

What are the benefits of marketing my pig at the Minnesota State Fair?

There are significant benefits to marketing your exhibit through the Minnesota State Fair. Benefits include:

  • The ability to market your pig as a part of a larger group vs. securing an individual appointment at a local locker.
  • Allows for a quicker loadout.
  • No need for transportation at the conclusion of the encampment.
  • Most importantly, it minimizes biosecurity risks that can arise from transporting pigs that have been exposed to hundreds of others.

Biosecurity is a combination of management practices designed to prevent the introduction and transmission of diseases into a herd. Regardless if you have one show pig or thousands of pigs, you are part of the pork industry. With that, not only are you responsible for keeping your show pig healthy, you share the responsibility of keeping all the pigs in the United States healthy. Some of these diseases can be costly to you and others in the pork industry.

Who buys the 4-H market barrows and market gilts?

The State 4-H Swine Show coordinators will be coordinating with a secondary market to buy 4-H market barrows and gilts. Secondary markets are unable to provide the same prices as larger buyers. This means that 4-H'ers can expect to see significant discounts because secondary markets are there to purchase and resell pigs of various sizes and types. As a result, secondary markets cater to customers that buy pigs that don’t bring the same value as commercially raised pigs that are raised for contract marketing. The reason for the use of a secondary market is that Ractopamine (Paylean) fed hogs are no longer able to be sold in many international markets.

What affects price?

Pigs sold to a packer are either sold on a contract or on the open market. The open market is also referred to as the cash or spot market. The difference between contract and cash market is how the person is paid for their pigs. A majority of commercially raised pigs in the U.S. are sold to packers on a contract basis, which means pigs are priced based on the cash market plus a predetermined premium. Pigs sold on the cash market are priced based on the current cash market for market pigs and may receive a premium or discount based on carcass characteristics such as backfat thickness. To determine the open market price paid to exhibitors, the price is locked in the day prior to the show. Therefore the market price on the day pigs are checked in at the Minnesota State Fair. The open market fluctuates daily depending on supply and demand for pork at the given time. Many commercial producers can take advantage of contract marketing of their pigs months and weeks in advance of actual marketing. That is not an option for 4-H pigs because even though Minnesota 4-H can commit to marketing 4-H market show pigs in January, we cannot meet many of the preferred specifications of large scale packers. Commercial producers, unlike 4-H exhibitors, are able to provide truckloads of pigs that are uniform in weight, have been provided similar nutrition, are of similar genetics, and have common cutability. While 4-H'ers raise quality pigs, they have all been fed differently, are of varying genetics, varying skin condition and hair coat and encompass a large weight range.

If I choose to take my pig home, what biosecurity measures do I need to take?

Even if your pig looks healthy, it is very likely it picked up an illness while at a show. Therefore the following should be done when you return home with your pig:

  • Isolate the returning pig . Any pig returning home from a show should be isolated from other pigs that are part of your home herd. Often 30 days is recommended, but work with your veterinarian to determine the length of time for isolation.
  • Monitor the returning pig for signs of illness. When pigs are in isolation they should be monitored daily for signs of illness. Contact a veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your pig’s health. If your pig does become ill, be sure you allow them to fully recover before taking them to another show.
  • Know the order of chores when caring for your returning pig. When your pig is in isolation, you should feed, water and provide other care for them after caring for the other pigs that you have at home. At a minimum, a different pair of footwear and clothing or coveralls should be worn when interacting with the pig in isolation and the other pigs you have at home. A different set of feeders and waterers should also be used for those in isolation and the other pigs you have. This is so you do not potentially spread illness between the pig returning from the show and other pigs in your herd.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment used at the show. It is important to clean, disinfect and dry all equipment that was taken to the show. This includes, feeders, waters, pails, hoses and nozzles, spray bottles, brushes, brooms, shovels, show stick, trailers, etc.

Do I need to worry about biosecurity if I don’t have other pigs at home?

Yes. It doesn't matter if you have one pig, several, or a barn full of pigs, you are part of the pork industry and responsible for doing your part to keep the entire pork industry healthy.

  • Monitor the returning pig for signs of illness. Your pig should be monitored daily for signs of illness. Contact a veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your pig’s health. If your pig does become ill, be sure you allow them to fully recover before taking them to another show.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment used at the show. It is important to clean, disinfect and dry all equipment that was taken to the show. This includes, feeders, waters, pails, hoses and nozzles, spray bottles, brushes, brooms, shovels, show stick, trailers, etc.
Related topics: Statewide 4-H news
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