Swine/Equine Showdown

Larry McMullen, Swine Field Specialist, Southeast

Problem Statement:

4-H /FFA youth need to learn production knowledge and new technology about their swine project through in depth discovery.  Along with knowledge discovery, recruitment to swine careers and advanced education begins with the 4-H/FFA project.  Therefore, an activity that will allow for advanced project education as well as career development was needed for youth who maintain a swine project.

Programmatic Response:

A bus trip for 9th / 12th grade students to the Iowa State University campus was planned for both swine and horse project interests. Combining project interests allowed for two buses with approximately 90 youth to be involved. Specifically, for the swine participants, the ISU Meat Lab, Animal Science Department, and the College of Veterinary Medicine were to be visited.  Larry McMullen, ISU Extension Swine Field Specialist, organized the activities for the swine participants. About two weeks prior to the bus trip, Larry selected four market pigs at the ISU teaching farm for a live judging class via pictures. Those four pigs were then taken to the ISU meat lab for harvest.  Participants were then able to view and judge the four carcasses while on the tour as well as judging a class of hams from the four pigs.  Dr. Sherry Olson and Dr. Jonathan Campbell placed the carcass and ham classes and discussed with the participants how to evaluate pork as well as the benefits of being on a meat judging team.  Loin samples from the four pigs were obtained and the participants were able to taste test the pork quality of the pigs.  Dr. Jeff Thayne discussed live animal evaluation for feeder and market swine and the benefits of participating on a livestock judging team.  ISU Animal Science Graduate students demonstrated how to give a set of reasons, how to show pigs, and how pigs are scanned for carcass merit.  Larry McMullen discussed the economics, drug residue levels, and clipping of show pigs.  A judging contest was held throughout the activities with pictures of live animals, carcass class, ham class, taste class, and a feeder pig picture class.  Scores were tabulated and prizes awarded at the conclusion of the trip.  A tour of the veterinary diagnostic lab was made and a discussion on swine necropsy and veterinary careers was made by Dr. Kariker and Ramirez.  Funding for this project came from grants, donations from county pork producer groups, and individual fees.  The major goals for this activity were to teach the participants about their swine project and to recruit them for an animal science career via Iowa State University.   

Outcome Statement: 

Participation was not as high as expected due to schools missing days with weather; therefore, potential participants were probably reluctant to miss additional days.  However, 26 youth did participate in the swine activities.  From the 25 returned evaluations, the following information was indicated:  (a) the selection of show pigs by Dr. Thayne was the single most learning activity;  (b) The meat lab activities and the judging, showing and scanning activities were the two most combined activities providing the most learning; (c) The veterinary diagnostic lab tour was the least favorite; (d) 68% of the participants are more likely to attend ISU and pursue a career in swine production; (e) 40% are interested in participating on the Meat Judging Team and 64% are interested in the Livestock Judging Team; (f) With an evaluation score of 1 to 9, the participants rated the overall swine learning experience as 7.44. 

Hopefully, through this bus tour to the ISU campus, animal science department, and veterinary college, an excitement for an animal science career at Iowa State University was created in the minds of the participants. 


150  Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: April 6, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu