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The 2000 Virginia State Fair Open and Junior Market Shows

Livestock Update, November 2000

Allen F. Harper, Extension Animal Scientist, Swine, Tidewater AREC

The Virginia State Fair Open and Junior Market Hog Shows were held at the fairgrounds in Richmond on September 30 and October 1, respectively. Judge Mike Bayes of Orient, Ohio worked diligently to select winners from four pair classes and six singles classes in the open show and four pair classes and eight singles classes in the junior (4-H and FFA youth) show. In total there were 100 head of market hogs in the open show and 97 head in the junior show.

In the open show, Frank Feeser of Taneytown, Maryland exhibited the grand champion single. Carcass data from the Gwaltney of Smithfield packing plant indicated that this 260 pound champion pig produced a 210 pound carcass with a "Fat-O-Meater" backfat reading of 19 millimeters (mm) and a loin muscle depth of 58 mm. The dressing percentage for this hog was 80.7%, which is exceptionally high. The reserve grand champion single was exhibited by Lawrence Byrd of Vienna, Virginia. This 229 pound entry produced a 178 pound carcass (77.7 dressing %) with 16 mm of backfat depth and a 47 mm loin depth.

In open show pairs competition, Todd Brown of Culpeper, Virginia exhibited the grand champion pair. This pair included a 239 pound entry with a 79.1 dressing percentage, 15 mm of backfat depth and 64 mm of loin depth and a 249 pound entry with a 77.9 dressing percentage, 19 mm of backfat depth and 49 mm of loin depth. Frank Feeser's lightweight pair took reserve champion. The 225 pound entry for this pair dressed out at 77.8 % with a backfat depth of 19 mm and a loin muscle depth of 53 mm while the 220 pound entry dressed out at 80.5 % with 21 mm of backfat and 55 mm of loin muscle depth.

In the junior show, Eric Wilson of Rural Retreat, Virginia exhibited the grand champion single. This exceptionally lean, 252 pound market hog produced a 198 pound carcass with a backfat depth of 9 mm and loin muscle depth of 61 mm. Keeping things in the family, Eric's brother Hunter Wilson exhibited the reserve grand champion single. This deep muscled, 251 pound entry dressed out at 196 pounds, had 10 mm of backfat depth and a loin muscle depth of 74 mm.

Nick Bowers from Shenandoah County exhibited the grand champion pair of market hogs in the junior show. Both hogs in this champion pair weighed 250 pounds. One dressed out with a 190 pound carcass, 17 mm of backfat depth and 57 mm of loin muscle depth while the other half of the pair dressed out with a 195 pound carcass, 25 mm of backfat depth and 54 mm of loin muscle depth. The reserved champion junior show pair was exhibited by Amanda See from Broadway (Rockingham County), Virginia. Hogs in this pair weighed 260 and 270 pounds each. Problems at the slaughter plant processing line prevented the opportunity to record carcass data for the two hogs in this pair.

The junior market hog showmanship winner for the senior class was Lisa Kovacs from the Virginia Beach 4-H Livestock Club. The intermediate showmanship class winner was Tanner Roberson, a 4-H member from Giles County and the novice hog showmanship class winner was Jessica Estienne, a 4-H member from Suffolk, Virginia.

The Top Pork Promoter Award for displays and promotion of pork to the general public at the Fair went to Alesia, Kallie, Melanie and Phillip Hovatter of the Cabin Hill 4-H club in Shenandoah County. Runner-up for the top Pork Promoter award was Lisa Kovacs from the Virginia Beach 4-H Livestock Club.

In total there were 28 exhibitors in the State Fair open market hog show and 34 exhibitors in the junior show. These exhibitors came from as far north as Taneytown, Maryland and Loudoun County, Virginia, as far west as Wythe County, Virginia and as far east as Virginia Beach.

A Note on dark haired market hogs and slaughter plant line speeds. In 1999 and again in 2000, arrangements were made to tattoo all the State Fair market hogs individually after the show. The purpose was to get "Fat-O-Meater" optical probe backfat and loin muscle depth data, carcass weights and dressing percentage data from the packing plant for each hog and report that information back to the exhibitors. With the fine cooperation of Gary Hammer and Tim Cunningham at Gwaltney of Smithfield, Virginia, most of this information was obtained for the exhibitors. However, our experience for the past two years is that, in high efficiency slaughter plants with rapid line speeds, it can be difficult to get full carcass data on every individual hog. This appears to be especially true when the group of hogs being processed has a substantial number of dark haired hogs such as purebred Hampshires, Durocs and Hampshire-Duroc crosses.

Experience at hog slaughter plants with rapid kill line speeds has shown that dark haired hogs, on average, require more time and effort for hair removal and cleaning. When this happens in high capacity, rapid line speed plants, it can result in the need for trim loss on hogs that are difficult to clean or even removal of such carcasses to separate rails for more detailed cleaning or skinning.

It is recognized that most commercial market hogs going into commercial packing plants are from a terminal crossbreeding program in which the dam is a maternal line breed or cross and primarily white in color and the sire is usually a terminal color breed or cross. The resulting market hogs are either white or various light shades of color. Such hogs present less difficulty in the hair removal process at the processing plant.

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