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National Barrow Show ends with sale of breeding swine

Brandon Ellis, of Danville, Ky., leads a Yorkshire boar in the auction ring Wednesday during the National Barrow Show at the Mower County Fairgrounds. Ellis said the boar sold for $1,350.

Mike Williams' auctioneer chant is so fast that, to the untrained ear, it's an incomprehensible mumble with the occasional dollar figure bubbling to the surface.


Leading a sale of breeding swine Wednesday at the 65th annual National Barrow Show, the Missouri resident would slow down only long enough to encourage buyers by commenting on the hogs' desirable qualities.

"Here's one that's got a big skeleton," he would say, or he'd mention top hogs in the animal's family tree.

The breeding stock sale was the final event of the four-day show at the Mower County Fairgrounds. This year, 268 boars and gilts sold for $329,075 between nine sales. That's slightly fewer hogs but slightly more money than last year.


The barrow show is put on by the National Association of Swine Records with help from a local committee.

Williams oversaw the sale of the day's top selling hog. The Grand Champion Chester White Boar exhibited by Randy and Becky Schmidt, of Williamsburg, Iowa, sold to Swine Genetics International of Cambridge, Iowa, for $10,000. The top-selling female was a Yorkshire gilt exhibited by Huinker & Boyum, of Decorah, Iowa, that sold for $7,000.

Besides the Chester White sale, Williams also led auctions of Poland China and Spotted hogs.

"It was a really good set of pigs," he said.

Boar sales were down, which surprised him. They wouldn't sell if no one bid $400. Boar sales in the industry have taken a negative hit since more breeders are buying semen to artificially inseminate their sows and gilts, but Williams believes that buying boars still has merit.

"I think they need a boar they can trust and live with," he said.

The sale had one of the smaller crowds he has seen at the show. Some at the sale have heard the crop harvest has begun in some states because of the hot weather this summer and that might have kept people from coming to the show.

Still, Williams said, his auctions had a steady variety of buyers. Instead of a few taking home many animals, more people at the sale took home one or two head this year, he said.


Some prices were low enough that buyers could get a young gilt for the same price they would get for selling an old sow. 

"They trade in an old sow for new genetics," he said. 

Clint Schwab, interim CEO for National Swine Registry, said any lower prices at the sale this year can be attributed to the uncertainty in the hog market. While producers are getting good prices for their hogs, the industry is concerned about tight corn supplies, which could raise prices for corn. As a big portion of hog feed, corn represents a large portion of the cost of raising hogs.

The National Swine Registry oversaw activities for Hampshire, Duroc, Landrace and Yorkshire swine at the show. It also led the show's first-ever crossbred boar breeding show and sale. Twelve boars made the first crossbred sale and brought prices ranging from $7,800 to $400.


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