Raising bacon

Swine provide valuable learning experience for 4-H youth

They squeal and roll in the mud and generally aren't peoples first choice when favorite animals are discussed. They smell like the barn for good reason, and their table manners could have earned them their name.

Moffat County is swine country, despite all the cattle, sheep and wildlife that graze in the pastures.

Joanne Roberson is a 4-H leader who oversees a group of youths who raise pigs for the county fair each year. They go by the name "Purple Circle Swine," and youths from all over the county are welcome.

"Either you like pigs, or you don't like pigs," Roberson said. "They're fascinating and fun."

Some of the children buy their pigs, and some raise them from sows that gave birth on their farms.

The pigs are obtained during the last week in March, and weighed-in at the fairgrounds in mid-May.

Roberson said most kids raise two, because competition for the food makes them eat better. Also when one is sold at the fair, the family still has one to butcher or sell.

When raising pigs, it's important for pigs to have shelter and lots of cool, clean water.

"They don't have sweat glands," Roberson said. When cooling down, they pant like dogs through their mouth."

Roberson works in the special education department at Craig Intermediate School, and is not the only school professional that is interested in swine.

John Haddan is more than the agricultural education teacher at Moffat County High School. He also raises pigs, and knows a good deal about swine.

"The weight range for a pig at the fair is from 225 pounds up to 275 pounds," Haddan said. "At the mid-May weigh-in they are from 50 to 120 pounds."

He said most of the children

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