AUSTIN, Minn. (FOX 47) – Livestock farmers from around the country headed to Austin for the 73rd annual National Barrow Show.
Each breed picks a boar and gilt to represent the breed as a whole, but this event is about more than just awards.
At the Mower County Fairgrounds, a total of nine breeds were shown as the finest species in the country were on display for the judges.
“It’s really a wonderful event that breeders and exhibitors look forward to throughout the year,” said Cassie Godwin of the National Swine Registry. “We had more than 400 pigs exhibited in two days and more than 200 exhibitors from across the country.”
The weekend kicked off with the junior pig shows. Adrian Austin has been showing pigs since she was 3 years old and says this is an important experience for kids who are trying to grow into the competition.
“Truly a great opportunity to get started with a species of livestock, but more importantly to build up a network across the United States of friends and mentors to help you in terms of establishing a future career path,” said Austin. “Understanding what you’re passionate about and where you want to go in your future.”
Her family represents the Yorkshire gilt and is honored to take home the award. They say raising a good pig involves a lot of luck as well as hard work.
“Each judge varies a little bit in their preference but overall these judges look for functional hogs that have width and body and mass and muscle, can get out and move and are sound structured,” said Godwin.
The National Barrow show is not only a chance for farmers to show off their hard work, but also to connect with others.
“They can buy other livestock, boars or gilts, to implement back into their herd, integrate those genetics,” Godwin said. “In return, they also sell their genetics. It’s really a marketing platform more than anything.”
While this is a competition, for the relationship-based industry of raising livestock, the friendships made and maintained are the most important.
“My family always jokes. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been on a real vacation in the summer. We always went to pig shows. We do it all year round and those are our vacations,” Austin said. “That’s the time when we get to go together as a family to compete and represent our livestock we’re bringing from our house. At the same time, see friends we haven’t in quite a long time and reconnect with those people.”
In between showing their pigs, the farmers and their families enjoyed corn toss, dinners together as well as the chance to share business ideas.