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Why Show Pigs Should Not Have Excessively Close Clipped Body Hair

Livestock Update, April 2007

Dr. Allen Harper, Extension Animal Scientist – Swine. Tidewater AREC

Since 2004, the Virginia State Fair Hog Show committee has included a hair clipping rule for the State Fair Open and Junior Market Hog Shows.  That rule states that “for show eligibility hair length on the pig body (hams, top, sides, belly and shoulders) must be at least one half inch.  Pigs with body hair length less than one half inch are not eligible for the show.”  The rule is not always clearly understood and in a few cases it is unappreciated or completely disliked by participants and parents.  Understanding the basis for the rule is one step in understanding and appreciating why this or similar rules exist at market hog shows.

Market hog shows are referred to as market shows for a reason.  The hogs are being exhibited with the goal of presenting top quality market hogs for the commercial pork industry.  At most pork processing plants, market hog carcasses are de-haired rather than skinned.  The de-hairing process depends on scalding in hot water followed by mechanical removal of the hair using de-hairing equipment that essentially “pulls” the hair out at or below skin level.  If the shafts of hair on the pig carcass are too short, this mechanical process fails and the hair is insufficiently removed.  Such carcasses must be skinned and, as a result, are substantially de-valued.  In essence, hogs that cannot be effectively de-haired are likely to be de-valued, consequently they are not “top quality market hogs.”

Hair clipping rules for market hog shows are not instituted to decrease opportunities for exhibitors to do well at the show.  Although it is a subjective evaluation, most hog show judges can readily segregate the best hogs from the mediocre hogs regardless of hair length.  And the rule does not prohibit clipping, but it does set a minimum for length.  A good resource for exhibitors and leaders on this topic can be found in an article published in Seedstock EDGE called “All Clipped Up” by Christy Couch Lee.  Indeed this article was referenced when the State Fair Hog Show committee instituted the rule in 2004.  The article is available on the National Swine Registry website at  Once at the website click NJSA (National Junior Swine Association), then click NJSA News.  Then find Seedstock EDGE story archives to locate the article.  This website also contains other useful information for junior swine exhibitors and leaders.

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