Special 4-H Swine Project     

Tom Miller, Washington                                                                                       


Youth participation in swine programs at the county level has declined in the last several years.  A number of reasons have contributed to the decline.  There has been a decline in the numbers of farms farrowing pigs.  Purchasing “show pigs,” although a cottage industry within the swine industry is an expensive alternative.  Another problem that needed to be addressed is the lack of educational opportunities for kids enrolled in swine projects.


Working with Janet Smith, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Henry County CEED, it was decided to try a new swine class similar to the bucket-bottle calf project, which has been adapted very successfully in the youth cattle shows.  The following rules were adapted to create a new swine class called, “Special Swine Class.”

Youth purchase up to four head of swine from a common source decided on annually by the swine committee.  All pigs are selected randomly by pulling numbers from a hat.  Entrants in this class are not eligible to show either these pigs or other pigs in the regular swine show.  Extra pigs from this class are eligible to be shown and sold at the Henry County Open Swine Derby Show.  Participants may bring a maximum of three pigs to the fair with at least one of them being shown as a derby class entrant.  The derby entrant will be the pig used in the formula that decides the overall champion of the class.  The other two pigs can be shown in the market class with the top pig competing for Supreme Grand Champion Swine at the Henry County Fair.  Only two pigs from each individual will be allowed to be sold at the swine auction.  If a third pig is brought to the fair they will be loaded out and sold with regular class derby pigs.  Placing in this class will be based on three factors:

  1. Derby results (from one pig scanned) 60 pts
  2. Show ring results                                10 pts
  3. Individual interview                            30 pts

                                                                        100 pt total

Pigs are picked up approximately the first of April from either the producer’s farm or a local site.  Pigs are already weighed, ear tagged and vaccinated (several vaccines).   The weigh-in date is later and the pigs are heavier than the regular show reducing the need for supplemental heat and reducing the chance of disease or death due to chilling.

Participants sign up for project by March 1 and are expected to pay a $10 per head down payment to be included in this class.


After three years of including the “special swine class” at the Henry County Fair, entrants in the class have grown to 10 youth.  Each year more youth have participated and this past year accounted for almost 25% of swine exhibitors at the fair.  The repeat entrants show the interest that youth have in this class.  Again this year the swine judge said he is very interested in seeing this program developed to educate more young people about swine production.  He felt that we will be challenged to meet employment needs in the swine industry as it evolves.

August 30, 2005   

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu