A Tradition Like No Other- National Barrow Show

The National Barrow Show has once again come and gone, and like so many years Western was dominant on so many fronts. From the judging contest to the truckloads or even the open show it was another year to never forget. School spirt was the theme of the weekend, and it truly resonates through everyone involved.

Preparation for the Barrow Show starts way before the times of the competitions. From the time the Seniors and juniors alike get back to Macomb for the school year, they set to work preparing for this great weekend. The Senior Livestock Judging Team practices endlessly, meeting at least once a day to prepare for competition. The goal of this is to prefect everything from placing the class of 4, to sounding perfect on oral reasons. The team stops at some of the premier breeding hog producers operations on their various travels. “The ability to meet with some of the greatest minds in the swine industry is truly incredible. I get to pick their brains and get to study their different viewpoints on the industry itself.” said Damon Stayton when asked about the benefits of traveling.

One of the largest workouts the team will attend all year is called the pilgrimage which started Friday, September 9th. The first workout that has kicked off this great weekend for years has always started at Western Illinois university. Teams from across the country gathered in the schools Livestock Center and judged over 10 classes of hogs from the school farm. The team then left Saturday morning headed for Austin, Minnesota; stopping many times on the way.

team-picSenior Livestock Judging Team

The junior team similarly had their work cut out for them when they arrived to a barn full of truckload hogs to get ready for the big show. Everyday their tasks included washing, walking, feeding, and health checks on over 20 barrows and gilts. Mark Hoge, Professor and Judging Team coach watches over everyday activities and acts as a crisis manager when needed.

September 12

The first day of competition final had come and the judging team was up first to square off in a day long competition swine judging. Competing against teams from Ohio to Texas the team tried out their skills they learned during practice. The judging contest had 8 classes of 4 head that are placed from first to fourth. Then there was one class of keep/cull hogs where you pick the best four pigs in the class and point totals are given to each pig. After this you are asked ten questions on this class to test your ability to remember the hogs set before you. After the judging portion of the contest, the kids were bussed over to a nearby church where they gave 4 sets of oral reasons to one of the officials that put the placings on the classes.

That same day the junior team went to work on the truckload competition. The truckload show is where 6 hogs are driven across a ring and they judge for quality and uniformity of a single load. Those loads are all scored and brought back in for an overall competition. Western had three truck loads in the show; A Yorkshire, Spot, and Crossbred load. The Yorkshires were the Champion Purebred Load and the Champion Overall Load. The crossbreds were Reserve Crossbred Truckload. Then the Spot load was the Reserve Lightweight Purebred Truckload. With the big win, it was the second year in a row that the Champion Load came from Western Illinois.


September 13th

The next morning the judging team was up to hear how they did in the contest, they headed to the ceremony held at the fairgrounds. After much excitement the judging team ended up third as a team.

  •      Individual highlights include
    • Hayden Wilder- High individual overall oral reasons and 5th overall individual.
    • Kade Knapp- 10th overall high individual.

The team battled hard against some talented teams across the country and couldn’t have been more proud. “coming back from summer break is always tough to get back readjusted,” Said Kade. “I love this team though and everyone on it. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be there in the end. These kids are my best buds.”

The agriculture program and more importantly the Livestock Judging team holds itself to a higher standard to achieve success and represent a university that is truly great. That weekend goes to show just how competitive the hog farm is and how good of a job we are doing at raising high quality pigs that can compete at a national level.

For the judging team this is only the begging to show what we are truly capable of this fall. These contests are all lead up to the national contest held in Louisville, Kentucky. The goal is to keep working and try to get better each and every day. “its a lot like feeding a show barrow,” Assistant coach Walter Colvin Said. “The team is just a skinny barrow that in the end is going to catch up and look fresh in the end.” Thats the goal for the judging team this year. They want to prove just how special and talented of a group they really are.

The Western Illinois Livestock Judging Team recently finished their season which ended in Louisville, Kentucky at the NAILE. The team had great success throughout the year and worked hard until the end. Many members had individual success along the way at the array of contests attended. The Team is looking forward to helping get the Juniors off to the right foot as they start competition in January.

Blogged by: Clayton Boyert

I am senior at Western Illinois University and a member of the Livestock Judging Team. I am graduating this spring and getting a degree in Agriculture Business. I have a strong passion for agriculture and most importantly the show cattle industry.


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