Taking a pig for a walk

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011



RESERVE — Under the watchful eye of a panel of judges, groups of St. John the Baptist Parish elementary school students presented pigs raised as part of a livestock project through the local 4-H Club.

The swine exhibition was the key element of St. John Parish’s first annual 4-H Livestock show, held on the grounds of St. Peter Catholic School in Reserve recently.

“The idea is to expose more children in the area to the kinds of agricultural elements that helped this region grow into what it is today,” said St. John 4-H agent Aimee Perret. “Most kids in this area are city kids and don’t understand what it means to raise animals. This is teaching them responsibility and respect for livestock.”

Perret said the willing participants, who were all very excited to get involved, began working with the animals in October. She said the exhibitors were responsible for taking time out every day to visit the animal, feed it, groom it and train it for presentation.

“The goal is to get the pig as large and as healthy as possible,” Perret said. “The judges look at weight, posture, color and how well the animal is presented.”

The presentation involves walking the pig in front of the judges so they see front, back and both sides, Perret said. Participants tap the pigs with a leather whip to keep them walking straight and within the judge’s line of sight.

“The animal is shown for one year at different competitions,” Perret said. “The winners here advance to the state level and beyond.”

Perret said the St. John event started small and only held events involving swine. She said she would like to see the competition grow into a full-scale livestock show.

“Participants present pigs, cows, chickens and more,” Perret said. “This is something that can be wildly successful out here if we do it right. We would like to see it grow into something larger.”

For some, the competition served as a starting point for an eventual career like in the case of nine-year-old Robin Torres from St. Peter, who wants to be a veterinarian.

“I love animals and I want to take care of them,” Torres said. “I’m learning what it takes to raise and keep healthy livestock.”

Others, like Reserve 9-year-old Sara Guidry, were just picking up where family members left off.

“My dad and my brother have done it, so I wanted to carry that on,” Guidry said. “This is my second year presenting and I really enjoy it.”