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Annual show pig auction gives students hands-on experience, helps fund farm

April 11, 2013

For almost 50 years the UW-River Falls Mann Valley Farm has played a large role in classroom education by providing students with hands-on agricultural experiences.

There are currently “25 to 30 students hired at the farm,” said Farm Director Bill Connolly. “Students are really involved with the farm” and it is his hope that students “go beyond the text book” by taking their hands-on experience combined with their classroom knowledge so that they are graduating a well rounded student.

Katye Williams and Emily Warren are both animal science majors and have taken an opportunity to work hands on at the farm. Williams and Warren have worked hard all year as the student managers to put together this year’s eighth annual show pig auction. Working on the farm has given Williams something to build her resume with for after graduation.

“I have that hands-on experience and oversight experience where looking into a job I have those skills already and I don’t have to try and pick that up right away,” Williams said.

One-hundered and thirty-two show pigs were auctioned off at the UWRF eighth annual Show Pig Auction on Saturday, March 30. The auction was held at the pavilion on the UWRF Mann Valley Farm.

Williams and Warren have had a very busy school year preparing for the auction. Top quality boars are selected for breeding from Shaffer’s Goldrush in Indiana. The show pigs are farrowed in January and February so that they will be at the right age come fair season.

The show pigs have proven to be successful and top competitors at the fairs over the past eight years. Mike Lewien and his family have attended the auction for the past eight years, and have taken home two award winning show pigs.

“They’re high quality,” said Lewien, and that’s what keeps his family coming back year after year.

Freshman Kaitlin Hanson has been showing pigs since third grade, however 2012 was her last year. She attended the auction with her family this year for the first time in hopes her sister will take home an award winning show pig.

To have an award winning show pig it needs to be “a longer hog, have nice ham on it, good loin structure and good legs on it,” Lewien said.

Carcass qualities, a good frame and meat quality is what the judges are looking for and UWRF seems to have provided top competitors year after year.

“Turning out award winning show pigs is not just important for business and the pig owners but it provides for good exposure for the farm and UWRF as well,” Connolly said.

“The money raised will go back to the farm to help pay for student wages, feed, fuel, A.I. (artificial insemination) costs, etc., to operate the swine enterprise.  We will also pay Bob Johnson for his auctioneering services, and one item specifically we will be purchasing is a better portable hog scale,” Connolly said.

A total of $20,100 was raised at the show pig auction this year.