A new friend recently called to seek an opinion and to congratulate our family for our recent success at the Summer Type Conference in Louisville. It was another great reminder of just how many really good people one can meet in this industry. He also reminded me of a post I made on showpig.com following the 2013 STC. I thought I would go back and dig up that old story and share it again here in the Pig Pen. Special thanks to Ryan Kline for the kind words and for inspiring me to look this up again!
I thought I would share our STC story:
The girls and I left for Louisville with 2 Yorkshire boars and no expectations. Winmor Farms was kind enough to haul the boars for us, so we didn't even have to pull the trailer this year. Like anyone else, we were pretty proud of our boars, but we had no expectation as to where they would place or if anyone would be interested in buying them. We had three goals. The first was to place high enough in class to qualify for the sale. The second was to have someone interested enough in the boars to buy them. The third was for them to go somewhere that we could purchase back semen for use in our own breeding program.
Show day came and we had a boar in class 2 and another in class 3. Our class 3 boar was the one we were most proud of and the one we really wanted to make sure we could get semen from this fall. Our boars finished 6th in class 2 and 1st in class 3. Both qualified for the sale. The girls were excited! Chelsea took the boar back in for the championship drive but came back without grand or reserve. On the way back from the ring, the boar was pretty fired up and did not want to go back in his pen. As we were fighting to get him down the aisle I noticed Aaron Cobb studying the boar. He came back to the pen and let us know he would be back later to look him over once he settled down a bit.
Aaron was not alone. The boar got a lot of folks' attention during that grand drive, and one by one the breeders and boar studs came to the pen to get another look. I've got to say that as a father it was a very proud moment for me to watch as my daughters walked the boar that they bred over and over again for breeders that I've known and respected for a very long time. We stayed late Friday night showing the boar until the barn started to clear out a little.
Saturday morning we were just preparing to leave the hotel when I received a call from Brian Arnold at NSR. There was a problem with the boar. Apparently some breeders continued to study the boar after we left and again early that morning. Inspecting his underline, they were concerned that he only has 5 teats on the left side. As we know, a minimum of 6 are required on each side in order to be pedigreed. I assured Brian that the boar DID have 6 on the left side, but that the second one is a nub. The girls inspect underlines at birth and if there is one that is short teats, they do not get ear notched or
registered. We decided to inspect the boar when we arrived at the show. You can imagine the anxiety the girls and I felt on that short drive from the hotel to the fairgrounds.
I immediately went to the pen and rolled the boar over for Brian (scratch his belly and he rolls over like a dog). I showed him the nub and argued that the boar has 6 on each side, one just as functional as the other (since he's a boar, none of them will ever have milk!). He went to get Mike. Mike looked at him and decided to get some of the breeders from the Yorkshire board. I have to admit, I am embarrassed to say that my initial reaction was not good! I wanted to fight. However one by one the Yorkshire breeders looked at the nub and declared that it was NOT a teat and therefore he could not be registered. I looked at my daughters. I looked at the crowd of breeders and NSR reps gathered at the end of our aisle discussing the situation, and I finally accepted what was the right thing to do. Mike and Brian came back to our pen and said they were going to allow the boar to remain in the sale, but they would announce that he was selling without a pedigree. I graciously accepted their offer, explained it to the girls and we made peace with it.
Steve Cobb came to our pen and apologized for the whole incident, which he did not need to do. He let us know that he was really interested in the boar and wished he could be pedigreed. Jim Grimm, Chuck Olsen and several others all shared the same condolences. The girls and I would like to again thank each and every one of the breeders who had so many nice comments about the boar. I also need to thank a couple of good friends (you know who you are) who helped to "talk me off the ledge".
The sale started with crossbreds. We went to watch our favorite cross boar from the show sell (the reserve from Kaufmanns) and then went back to our pen to wait for the Hamp sale so we could watch the Winmor boar sell. As I sat there and thought about the emotional roller coaster we'd been on the past day and a half, I began to feel ashamed about my initial reaction that morning. The girls and I didn't have any hard feelings over the situation and we wanted to be sure that nobody else did either. I decided I needed to apologize to Brian Arnold. Since he was busy with the sale I thought the fastest way to rid myself of the guilt was to text him and talk to him later, which I did.
I want everyone to understand in case they find themselves in this situation. These folks at NSR do not have an easy job. It is very difficult to make everyone happy. The best they can do in a situation like this is to consult board members and try to find a workable solution for everyone. We really do appreciate the way they handled our situation and we are grateful that we were allowed to keep the boar in his position in the sale.
The time came for the Yorkshire sale. We had a couple of boar studs indicate that they were still interested in the boar without a pedigree. Our motive was still the same. We wanted him to go somewhere that we could still purchase semen, pedigree or not. We want to use him for our cross program and to make southwest york barrows. Special thanks to Showtime Sires for purchasing the
boar! Also thanks to Harold and Ty at SGI for your contending bid! Thanks to all of you who made this trip to STC a special one for my daughters and I!
We retained some interest in the boar. You can get semen from Showtime Sires if you want to make killer cross and non-pedigreed york barrows. We'll probably name the boar "Nub". ;)
The boar went on to be named “Goin Green” (because he was paperless).
Brian from Iowa,
Looking for a York boar to use. Not sure which way to go right now. What are you seeing?
I’m not sure what kind of females you’re working with, but it’s pretty clear to see the trend is in using taller-fronted hogs with a bit more extension and look. You don’t want to give up chest, rib and blade to get that look though, and that’s the rub. We’re likely to see a lot of “freaky-fronted” hogs that are getting too straight out of their shoulder and too narrow in their chest as we go farther down this road. Don’t chase the fad too far. Having said that, Amped Up is probably the hottest boar in the breed right now for the look and design he brings. His sons are showing up in studs now as well. Another cool boar was the reserve cross at Indy last week that landed at Moyers. I hope this helps.
Derek from IL,
What age should I be breeding my gilts?
In the commercial world, we like gilts to farrow when they are 12 months old, which means breeding them at about 8 months and making sure they’ve had at least 2 cycles first (hopefully they’ve had
many). There is a lot of data to support that this is the correct first breeding age to make a productive sow for her lifetime. Breeding too young can damage lifetime productivity even if you get a really good first litter.
With modern showpigs however, even breeding at 8 months of age can be too young. It’s a shame, but it’s a fact. We need to get these females bigger and more mature if we want to avoid disastrous farrowing issues with the first litter. Until we start making a different style of showpig, I would recommend getting gilts to at least 9-10 months of age and as big (but not fat) as you can get them before breeding.