Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
Berrien County Market Hog Show and Sale Support Increaseas
Historically, the Berrien County Market Hog Show corresponded with the State Market Hog Show held annually in February. Beginning in 2006, the State Market Hog Show prohibited youth from selling state-show-exhibited hogs to buyers due to issues with processing show hogs. Subsequently, each county had to find their own buyers or bring the animals back home. Even with the opportunity to sell their animals, most Berrien County hog exhibitors were losing money selling their pigs at market price (approximately $0.35 per pound). In some cases, youth were penalized financially even more due to a hog’s hair length being too short to process. The market hog project was determined not to be a positive economic endeavor for youths and their families.
In 2007, Berrien County Extension agents and FFA advisors formed a hog show committee to tackle several issues, including hog exhibition profitability. The committee included representation from 4-H and FFA leadership and parents. After much deliberation, the committee decided to move the Berrien County Market Hog Show to a fall show and to include a sale. This initial committee opened the door to the creation of today’s Berrien Youth Livestock Association, which now oversees local livestock shows. Since its founding in 2007, the Berrien County Market Hog Show and Sale has been a financial success for youth.
The first Berrien County Market Hog Show and Sale was an immediate success. In 2007, 57 hogs were exhibited by 46 youths ranging in age from six to 18. The initial sale was held with 46 hogs weighing a total of 11,254 pounds auctioning for an average per pound price of $2.14. A total of $24,083.56 was generated, an average of $523.56 per hog. One 4-H member who has shown livestock for several years stated that this was the most money he had ever deposited in one week in his life.
Community support of and participation in the Berrien County Market Hog Show and Sale has increased each year. In 2012, the fifth year of the new model, youth exhibited 64 hogs. The sale of 48 hogs in that year generated $55,894.45, averaging $4.61 a pound or about $1,164.47 per hog. In 2017, youth exhibited 93 hogs, with the sale of 67 hogs generating a total of $108,948.65, which averaged $6.59 per pound or about $1,626.10 per hog. Over 10 years, the average price-per-hog sold at auction has increased 211 percent. The final sale total has increased 352 percent. This increase would not have been possible without support from the community, including the Berrien County Board of Education, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, the Berrien Youth Livestock Association and local businesses.
One original committee member indicated that he is “amazed at the overall progress made in such a short time. Because the show and sale have been so successful, other aspects of the show have improved as well, such as livestock facilities, equipment and quality of animals exhibited. The change has surely benefited all aspects of the show.”