Traveling to stock shows across the state, I hear judges commenting on skin and hair care more and more. Even at small jackpot shows, judges seem to be incorporating this often overlooked factor into their evaluation of livestock, especially for swine showmanship. Here are a few tips and products to help elevate the look of your pig without breaking the bank.
RICE ROOT BRUSH
One of the most basic but important tools that should be in everyone’s show box. The stiff bristles are the best way to remove dead skin from your pig and help keep its hair trained and clean. This will not only keep your pig’s skin looking fresh but the bristles will also help toughen up the skin which on white pigs will help prevent whip marks in the show ring. This needs to be a daily routine making sure to brush every part of your pig all the way passed the hock.
Mineral oil light is an easy way to keep your pigs skin looking healthy and fresh. This product should ONLY be used on your dark hogs. The oil acts as a tanning agent to darken the skin when they are out in the sun or under a tanning light. At our barn, our dark hogs have access to outside pens so we keep mineral oil light in a spray bottle and use as a daily routine.
For our white pigs we want to do the complete opposite of the mineral oil routine described above. Sunscreen helps prevent light skinned hogs from getting burned if it’s not possible to keep them out of the sun completely. We also use sunscreen on the light skin of our dark crosses and hamps in conjunction with the mineral oil light. The sunscreen will keep the white parts nice and light while they are tanning the dark skin. This creates a great black and white contrast and stands out in the ring.
After the consistent brushing and exfoliating, a daily skin moisturizing routine is key. There are plenty of pig specific products for this but like most things in the show world they can be a little pricey. We buy whatever lotion is on sale at our local grocery store. We found that lotions with cocoa butter or shea butter can leave a yellow tint on light colored hogs so we stay away from those. We lotion every evening since we oil and sunscreen in the morning. Again, we use a sprayer and dilute the lotion to make this a simple and quick part of our daily routine.
THE RIGHT SHAMPOO
Many people who have been around the show pig world a long time will tell you to use dish soap to wash your pig. While it is definitely cheaper than the show animal brands that are out there, we have found that it can dry out our pigs’ skin and give them an ashy appearance. This is the one area where we do spend a little more and buy a shampoo specifically for show animals. We found that S/S makes a product called Rejuvenate which has some additives that really gives our pigs a fresh and healthy look after we use it. But, since it is more expensive than other products, we only use this on show days and wash with a cheaper product like Main and Tail for routine washes.
This may be the most important topic from this list. It’s easy to start a daily skin and hair routine but more difficult to keep it going through the entire show season. We start with these products and routine from day one and we don’t miss very many days at our barn. The consistent routine also helps build rapport with your animal and provides positive reinforcement after walking and working. Our kids put in so much work and time, we want to make sure that they have every advantage possible to have success in the ring. For us, a few extra minutes in the morning and in the evening is a small price to pay to give our pigs the best look possible. We hope these tips and products will make your daily skin and hair routine easy and affordable for your barn.