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Buena Vista: Hobby farmers win top swine prizes

By Staff | Jul 24, 2009

Ryan Peters, 13, of Storm Lake, with bucket, moves a pig in order to pour feed for the pen. He showed the overall individual champion market hog last week at the Buena Vista County Fair. At right is brother Sam, 8, who plans to show pigs at the fair starting in 2010. They are the sons of Steve and Deb Peters.

ALTA – Last January the Steve Peters family didn’t hold out much hope for bringing champion hogs to the Buena Vista County Fair.

“We farrowed kind of late,” explained Ryan Peters, 13, “so we thought they might be small.” But apparently the family’s careful genetic choices made up for any affects from a late-birthing date.

Ryan Peters and his brother, Ben, 11, selected eight fair pigs, from 17 piglets farrowed by two sows. Ryan brought the 2009 overall hog champion, while Ben brought the eventual reserve pen of 3.

“He just kept growing,” said Ryan Peters said of his champion pig. “He weighed in at 315 pounds.” The champ was 166 days old at weigh-in, an average weight gain of 1.89 pounds per day.

The Peters brothers are picking up where their father left off as a younger man. Steve Peters grew up showing pigs at the Plymouth County Fair. “We usually had blue ribbon pigs,” he said. “We didn’t go for the championship stuff.”

Lee Zylstra of Alta rolls his reconditioned 1206 International tractor from an exhibit building at the Buena Vista County Fair last week. "These aren't really rare," Zylstra said, "but you don't see many of these Wheatlands down here." The tractor came from Canada, he said.

Steve Peters said they started with a pair of Hampton-York sows purchased from his brother-in-law, Lonnie Ploeger, of Pearson. They artificially inseminated them with sperm from a Hampton-York boar. The sows farrowed Jan. 31.

They credited their success at the fair to using good boars and controlling breeding. “We also got good advice,” Ryan Peters said, meaning his uncle Ploeger.

This was Ryan’s fourth year to show pigs and Ben’s first. “I had a pig that liked to lay down,” Ben said, during the swine show. He said that he enjoyed the reserve championship for his pen, but said he wasn’t thrilled with washing the animals for the show.

However, he said that he did enjoy giving the pigs vaccinations, keeping records. “It made me feel like I was involved,” he added. “I also like to see how big they get.”

Ryan said he enjoys raising pigs. “They’re pretty fun, until you have to clean them.”

Their youngest brother, Sam, 8, is waiting his chance to show pigs in 4-H, but he’s getting a head start. He already has three years showing experience at the Marcus Community Fair in Cherokee County.

Ryan Peters is also planning to show a different batch of pigs at the Clay County Fair in Spencer in September.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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