Lessons learned at the chopping block | CraigDailyPress.com

Lessons learned at the chopping block

Bridget Manley

Local teens Joe Long and Eddie Brenner don’t have to worry about leading their pigs in front of a judge for their latest contest.

And as for the pigs – well, let’s just say that they’ve chilled out.

For good.

Long, 16, and Brenner, 15, Routt County 4-H members, have entered their pigs in the upcoming annual carcass contest. The competition tests how well they raised their animals to yield quality meat cuts.

Carcasses of pigs raised by Long, Brenner and other Routt County youths hung in a meat locker this week at Brother’s Custom Processing in Craig.

Carcass judge Chris Rhyne moved around the pigs’ remains, evaluating the quality of the rib eye, a type of meat cut found on the outer side of the animals’ ribs.

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Swine carcasses are judged mainly for the leanness of the meat, Rhyne said, while other animals, including beef, are evaluated on the quality of the meat, which includes tenderness.

The Moffat County 4-H club held its carcass contest Aug. 14.

Routt County’s turn is coming up. At 6 p.m. Sept. 3 at Soroco High School, Routt County carcass contest contestants will find out how their animals fared.

“In Routt County, it’s pretty well attended,” she said.

The contest has taught Long and Brenner a few things about raising livestock.

Lesson one: Qualities of meat-producing animals are a mixture of nature and nurture.

Long said since he started participating in the carcass contest eight years ago, he’s learned how to feed and care for his animals so they produce higher-quality cuts.

“I learned what genes to pick out,” Brenner said.

Lesson two: Don’t get too close to what you know won’t last.

Long and Brenner used to become emotionally attached to their pigs, they said.

Not anymore.

“When we were younger, we used to get attached,” Long said, “but. …”

Brenner jumped in.

“We learned not to,” he said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com