Red Cowgirl Boots Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!

I am a young agricultural enthusiast focused on spreading the "Colorful" world of Agriculture.

Involved with an amazing group of other Calgary Stampede Summer Synergy Youth who are committed to promoting Agricultural to others. I was introduced to blogging in participation for the Summer Synergy Marketing Campaign, which has truly inspired me.

I am excited to share my thoughts, comments, on serious and fun aspects of Agriculture. I hope that if you have an opinion on my subject matter, that you will leave a comment - I want to know how you feel, from both my agriculture and urban friends. Lets have some fun, relive some memories, make new memories and talk about what really matters most - help spread the word of Agriculture.

Get your boots out, dust them off, and join me in adding a bit of color to Agriculture!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pigs 101

Before I was born our farm was a little bit more diversified in that we had pigs, chickens, horses, sheep, and cattle. At that time there was also 2 families working and living on the farm. The families decided to split the operations by moving the pig operation to another location. Growing up I didn't have the opportunity to learn a lot about pigs, well unless I visited my relatives. So I tried to do a bit of research and found some information from the Canadian Pork council!

Eat Like a Pig? 
If you only ate healthy foods from the four food groups and no snack food, than I guess you could say you eat like a pig! Pigs eat a variety of healthy foods like corn, barley and soybeans, mixed with vitamins and mnerals. Pig feed is usually all mixed together, often into a pellet, kind of like dog food. Animal feed doesn't have to be bought from a feed mill, or store, it can also be mixed on the farm. A lot of scientific research has gone into determining the exact amount and type of food to make a pig grow perfectly.

Straight from the Pig Pen
Pigs need many of the same thing that a pet would need like a balanced diet, clean water, a health program, and the right type of environment. The farmers work hard to provide all these necessities each and every day of the year. Vaccinations and medications are used in a herd health program with a veterinarians help. Any medicine or vaccine used on a pig must be tested and approved by the government.

Shower BEFORE you go into the barn?
Some farmers may ask you to take a shower or put on plastic boots over your shoes before you go into their barn. Other farmers do not allow any visitors at all, people or animals. Any guesses why? This is called "bio security", and its one part of a herd health program that helps to keep pigs healthy. Not allowing visitors into the barn helps keep germs or sickness out.
Pigs are adorable!

Pigs = Pork and...
Of course the primary purpose for raising pigs is to provide us with food like ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and pork chops. Farmers are paid for the quality of the pork they produce. Virtually everything from each pig is used to provide us with many items including: leather, soap, medicines, and medical treatments like heart valves.

It's a living and a life
Canada's 15,000 pork producers sold approximately 21 million market hogs in 1999. Pig farms today are way larger than those of the past. Most farms are owed by a single family; but others are managed by several families or hire additional workers to help care for the animals. If you want to be a successful pork producer, you have to enjoy working with animals. many of today's farmers go to college or university to study agriculture, animal science, plant science, and business.

These pigs went to market...

Famers move the feeder pigs out of the nursery when they reach approximately 25kg. This next stage is called the "grower-finisher" section where pigs are housed in a separate room or a separate barn designed for that size of pig. A feeder pig is raised to market weight of 110kg. These are the ones that supply us with pork.

Stock trailer for pigs
Market hogs are sent to meat processing plants on trucks designed just for pigs. There are guidelines for transporting pigs, including the number of pigs on the truck. For example, in hot weather fewer pigs are put on  a truck and are often shipped at night or early in the morning when it is cooler.

Each animal is inspected at the processing plant. Pigs are handled and euthanized quickly and humanely by approved methods. Processing plants follow strict government guidelines for processing and handling animals and meat products. A lot of research has been done on humane handling and euthanasia. Check out Dr. Temple Grandin's website for examples:

This little pig stayed home...
The pigs with the best genetics and desirable pig characteristics are called "breeding stock". These pigs remain in the farmer's herd or are sold to other farmers to add to their herd or replace existing pigs. Farmers look for pigs with characteristics such as a good body and bone structure, muscling, quick growth, or strong maternal instincts.

Houses of straw, sticks, or bricks?
Only pigs in storybooks or movies live in houses, talk, and wear clothes. Most real pigs in Canada live in barns, not outside in the mud. Why? Barns are designed to provide pigs with the right environment, protected from extreme weather temperature.
Pig barns

Sweat like a Pig?
Guess what!? Pigs don't sweat! Storybook pigs are often shown in the mud as they try to keep cool and out of the sun. Real pigs actually like to keep clean. Today's pig barns help them keep cool with lots of fans to help circulate the air. Some barns even have water sprinklers to keep them cool!

Here's a video explaining more about the state of the art pig barns that house pigs.

The pig production really has changed from a small family job to a family operation.

I learned a lot researching this information and I hope you  did too! I'm finally done diplomas, competing my bio 30 this morning. It was a pretty fair test and hopefully I aced it! :) Now I just have to wait for my marks to come back at the end of July. Hope everyone's enjoying the warm weather. I sure am. I'm going to spend the rest of my day weedwacking and working on my show string. 



  1. Fantastic post. It's always cool to learn about other types of agriculture and you did a really great job of explaining it!

  2. Thank you! Hope you enjoyed it.

  3. Carling, I tried to post a few days back, must have taken a wrong turn. I'll try again...I found this article very informative, especially the video clips. Thanks for educating me! Hope the weed whacking was a success. AL.

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