Pilot Program to Increase Youth Involvement in 4-H Swine Production

Jerry Weiss, Swine Field Specialist, Northwest Iowa

Problems

Buena Vista County produces 315,000 market hogs per year. The demographics of hog production have changed in this county much like every other county in Iowa. Buena Vista County is primarily a swine-finishing county. Approximately 62% of these hogs are under some type of contractual agreement. The 4-H and youth swine project has also changed in this county. Approximately 10 years ago the Buena Vista County Fair had one of the largest youth swine shows in the state. Over 500 head of hogs would pass through the show-ring. In 2004 less than 100 head of hogs were exhibited by youth at the county fair.

Response

I was asked by Martin Broich, Buena Vista County Pork Producer President, and Colleen Rossiter, Buena Vista County Extension County Youth Coordinator, to help put together a program to increase youth involvement in the 4-H swine production program. We developed a program for 2005. Through the Buena Vista County Bankers Association, a loan was secured for youth to purchase feeder pigs and the feed for these animals. The pigs were purchased from Eddie Brothers Swine Breeding operation from within Buena Vista County. Each 4-H'er purchased 3 animals.

This project was designed to encourage youth who had never raised pigs before to get involved in swine production. The program was also set-up to include youth who lived in town or on an average without livestock buildings. Again the Eddie Brothers stepped forward and agreed to house all of these pigs as a group.

Impact

This pilot project is off to a good start. Eighteen families representing 22 youth are involved. Ten of the twenty-two youth have never been involved with pigs before. Six of the ten youth live in town. Three pigs were purchased for each youth. The pigs will be housed and fed as a group at the Eddie farm. This is a total of 66 head. The pigs will be delivered to the Buena Vista County Fairgrounds July 20th. This is when the youth will have total responsibility for their pigs. I have put together a curriculum for these youth. Each of them is required to attend five educational sessions before July 20th. We will have videos of the pigs. Because of bio-security reasons, we could not have each youth go on the Eddie farm to actually work with the pigs. During each of their five sessions, I will teach various pork production topics. These topics include: nutrition, space requirements, animal care, animal health, production cost, rate-of-gain, grooming, showing and ethics. Each of these youth will go through the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Program and become certified through this program. This will be a very good learning experience for each of these youth and they may also make a little money.

March 31, 2005
108 - Iowa Pork Industry Center

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