National Barrow Show 2018

As I sit and ponder on the judging teams trip to MN and the infamous "pilgrimage" that starts in IN and goes to Iowa in preparation for the National Barrow Show. We started our journey north on Friday with a late night rolling into a foreign hotel where our #300 hotel room was on the SECOND floor!  That next morning was fun! All us girls get antsy in anticipation of the good livestock we are going to see, so we were up and at em early...ok so maybe we want to sit at breakfast and fully wake up!  Turns out the breakfast at this casino type hotel didn't start till 7 and we got our happy butts down there at 6:30.  I am a big believer in "ask and you shall receive" so of course I asked the kind man behind the desk and he said "I can do five minutes."  I don't give up easily, and thoroughly enjoy my breakfast time so I kept persisting and GOT BREAKFAST OPENED 30 MINUTES EARLY!!! Once the whole team had made it down we loaded up and headed out for a long day of working hogs. We began in IL with classes of Keep/Cull at Ray's Showpigs.  A Keep/Cull class is nontraditional for a collegiate judging contest but the most practical thing we do.  It is 8 animals, mainly gilts (female pigs who have set to birth a litter), in the class you pick 4 to keep and 4 to cull (not keep.)  We evaluate them off phenotype and date we are given such as: litter number, how many days it took to get to 250 lbs, backfat, Loin Eye Area (LEA) etc.. The kicker is the questions after the class!!! We get 2-5 minutes to study our notes we've taken and we turn our backs to the class and close our notes and answer-- or try to answer 10 specific questions that a group of individuals (committee) come up with from the class. The questions range from: of the potential litter mates who was faster growing, color IDs, who has the largest LEA, of the blue rumped gilts who is tighter out of her hock.   After we completed a couple keep/cull classes the Ray's let us sort a couple traditional "four animal" classes. FUN FUN!  I absolutely love judging high quality pigs and our next stop didn't let me down! Schminke Chesters was jam packed with both keep/cull and a boar (intact male) class!  When we were done with the gilts, we got to look at their older boars who have sired champions and been champions.  It was a unique experience.  Once we were done looking at big, burly boars we had the privilege to visit the Olson's down the road who raise Spot's- which is my second favorite breed.  We ended the day on a high note. 

    Consequently, every high has a low, the next day was our low.  Very low!  Coach looked at us after collecting our cards saying "there is no rhyme of reason to how you marked these cards."  Vegas Show Pigs brought us great classes of Durocs' both keep/cull and four animal but as a team we are not comfortable with the breed therefore, we got the comments from our coach like we did!  The day from there didn't go up, it went downhill rather fast!  The next stop was to be the last stop of the day, THANK HEAVENS.  Eggers Show Pigs  provided high quality pigs and a high quality lunch for a HUGE group of collegiate judging teams!  And, we closed the night out with pacing the hallways preparing reasons and talking to other teams while waiting to give our sets (reasons.) 
   Monday's are never fun but a Monday contest...well I'm not so sure it makes the day better! One thing is for sure I was hype to judge the 7 traditional classes, one keep/cull, and a truckload class.  A truckload consists of four groups each with 6 hogs.  This is the most real-world application in a judging contest and my favorite!  After a long day of judging, we began our four sets of reasons which is unique to NBS because we normally talk 8 classes/sets.  All in all, it was a fun day for me!  I love hogs, I love looking at them, and I definitely love talking them to an official! Since we were so far away from home, we left MN that night and headed down to the IN/IL state line.  Our coach had set up a....cattle workout for us at a prominent breeder Lowderman Cattle Company in IL.  We took to the species change quickly, marked good cards, looked at some sale cattle and headed back to TN! 
      All in all, the trip to MN was fun and eventful!


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