920barrow show2

Show is one of the oldest national type contests for swine

By Janet Kubat Willette

ST. PAUL — Dan Yates drove 10 hours to attend the National Barrow Show.

He brought five head of breeding stock from four breeds: One Landrace boar, two Hampshire gilts, one Duroc boar and one Yorkshire gilt.


He sells purebred breeding stock and show pigs at his farm, Porcine Partners of Cissna Park, Ill. He’s attended the National Barrow Show for 20 years.

"It’s a good sale," Yates said. "You see a lot of good animals."

Yates wasn’t going home with an empty trailer.

He had his eyes on a Hampshire boar, which he was going to buy depending on price, and he had bought a Berkshire boar for a neighbor.

He was also going home with some change in his pocket. His Landrace boar was named the breed’s Grand Champion and sold at auction for $1,000.

"That’s a good price," Yates said.

The National Barrow Show is an interesting show and sale, said Kyle Rozeboom, a University of Minnesota livestock specialist, who took in a couple of the barrow show auctions. It’s one of the oldest, if not the oldest, national type contest for swine, he said.

"Breed-changing boars have come from the National Barrow Show," Rozeboom said. Tremendous, quality genetics have been shown there and the boars sold this year will improve their breeds, he added.


The top boar netted $24,000, which Rozeboom said was a very good price. High-dollar hogs like that are typically purchased by boar studs who specialize in selling show pig semen, he said.

Show pig semen can fetch anywhere from $75 to $300 per bottle. Two bottles are needed to breed a sow or gilt.

Semen is collected from boars twice a week with 10 to 15 bottles collected each time, Rozeboom said, so it shouldn’t take the purchaser too long to recoup his investment.

The $6,000 gilt sale was tremendous, Rozeboom said.

Breeding stock sales tend to be more hit or miss now than 20 years ago, he said.

Few commercial producers purchase hogs at auction. Instead, there are high-dollar hogs who go to boar studs and several-hundred-dollar hogs who go to other purebred breeders. Twenty years ago, the sale price would have been more consistent, Rozeboom said.

The Saso family made their first trip to the National Barrow Show this year, though they’ve been showing hogs at the county level for 25 years.

"After this time I think we will (return)," said Don Saso of Garden Prairie, Ill. "It’s been a lot of fun here."


Saso has nine grandchildren and all raise a different breed at his place. Six show hogs.

Grandson Nathan, 9, came along because they showed a Landrace boar and barrow, his breed.

His boar placed third in its class, behind the breed grand and reserve champion. They decided to bring the boar to the National Barrow Show, a five-hour trip, because it was too good for the county fair and there was a mixup in entries for the Illinois State Fair, Saso said.

Last year, the family showed the Grand Champion Landrace barrow in the junior show at the Illinois State Fair.

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