Three families had a night they won’t soon forget when the grand and reserve grand champion market barrows were selected at the 2018 National Western Stock Show.
Two young people, 11-year-old Payton Rodgers and 9-year-old Weston Lackey, both agree they were so excited and even in shock when they were awarded the gigantic purple banners.
One nutrition program helped those crossbred barrows excel and perform, keeping them healthy from weaning all the way to the winner’s circle in Denver.
Heimer Hampshires, Taylor, Mo., raised both the grand and reserve grand champion barrows at this year’s National Western, along with several other breed champions and reserves and barrows that stood at the top end of their classes. Jesse Heimer runs more than 300 sows that farrow twice a year and is continuously farrowing and weaning pigs to meet the demands of his show pig customers across the United States.
“Pig flow is really important around here,” Jesse said. “Healthy pigs coming out of the nursery, healthy pigs going into show barn that can be pictured, and healthy show pigs going out the door around the country for young people to feed and show is key.”
Jesse said he first met Weston’s dad, Jason, in 1998 when they both showed pigs at the American Royal in Kansas City. Weston’s mom, Jackie, introduced Jesse to Payton’s dad Blaine, and now all three families are close friends. Both the Lackey and Rodgers families are repeat customers of Heimer Hampshire’s. Besides their friendship, a love of pigs and the youth livestock show industry, they have one more thing in common. They all believe keeping their pigs healthy starts with the Amaferm® advantage, found in the products they use from BioZyme® Inc.
Amaferm is a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed. It is research-proven to combat stress by supporting the animal’s own immune system, significantly increasing intake and nutrient utilization. It is the key ingredient in all BioZyme products.
“The weaning process is historically the most stressful time in a young pig’s life,” Jesse said. “We started using Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® right away when it first became available. I don’t want to wean a litter of pigs without it. We use it at other stressful times and times of recovery too. There is no better way to get pigs back on feed again than to run Liquid Boost in the medicator.”
Both Payton and Weston continued using various BioZyme products in their winning barrows, right up until show time, to maintain their health and keep them eating and growing. Payton said her pigs also get Liquid Boost as soon as they reach her show barn. This helps their initial transition go more smoothly as the pigs adapt to their new environment and new water. She also uses it whenever she travels and at every show to keep her pigs hydrated, keep them eating and give water a consistent flavor, masking any unfamiliar or new flavors.
Sure Champ® Spark® is a product that both the Lackey and Rodgers families feed their pigs at every feeding from the first time they are in their respective barns in Haskell, Texas, and Savannah, Mo. Spark is a pelleted, concentrated daily supplement with Amaferm for show livestock to drive appetite to higher levels, increase absorption of nutrients in the diet and improve digestive health. Spark also contains MOS to trap and expel bad bacteria, limiting their ability to do harm, and biotin and zinc for additional hoof and hair care.
“We start all pigs on Spark immediately, and not a day goes by without Spark in every feeding. With 70% of a pig’s immune cells being in its gut, it is important to keep that gut at its prime in order to keep them healthy. With pigs, every day counts. A day off feed can be devastating to our long-term goal. That is why we feed Spark and are big advocates of the product,” said Jackie.
In addition to Spark, the Lackey family adds a few more products to their nutrition regime as it gets closer to show day. They like to lay over at a location within close proximity to the show 4-7 days prior to get their pigs used to more of a show environment that includes a different barn, unfamiliar pens, new water and sometimes even other animals. Once they have reached their holdover destination, they start their pigs on Liquid Boost in a water bucket to help the pigs get used to drinking that way instead of using the nipple like they are used to at home. They also administer the Vita Charge® Paste (transitioned to Vita Charge® Gel July 2019) at every feeding, which their pigs get through the duration of the show to assist with transition, increased stress that the environmental changes cause and to stay healthy and on feed in that crucial time that really matters.
The Rodgers family also uses Vita Charge® Paste (transitioned to Vita Charge® Gel July 2019) while at every show, both morning and night. At this year’s National Western, Blaine said they faced warmer than usual temperatures in Denver and both their pigs started stressing. He opted to use Sure Champ® Climate Control Paste (transitioned to Vita Charge® Climate Control Gel July 2019) on Payton’s barrows, who were over-heating and panting the day before the show.
“Our pigs were used to colder temperatures, and they got to Denver in the stuffy barns, and one pig really started stressing. We started him on Climate Control, and it really was a game changer. They weren’t eating on Tuesday morning. But that night, they weren’t breathing as hard, weren’t near as stressed and started eating and drinking again. We kept them on it through the show. We feel like it really helped us,” Blaine said.
Three families, two crossbred barrows, Cuddles and Batman, and the help of one nutrition program made one night to remember in the winner’s circle.