Around nine years ago, Kevin Hall, 63, and his eldest son, Dustin Hall, 41, both of Grantsville, introduced Dustin’s children on how to raise and show pigs at county and state fairs, and other events.
Drake Hall, 17, a senior at Grantsville High School, has been raising and showing pigs since he was eight. His younger siblings, Baylor, 13, and Kimber, 9, have been working hard alongside him with their own pigs
Grandfather Kevin Hall said he doesn’t participate much with his grandchildren in the process, but he does provide land for them to pursue a hobby they now love. He said he’s proud to watch them work hard and to attain the winner’s circle often. He’s also jokingly blamed for starting his grandchildren along this path.
“They spend countless hours working with their pigs,” Dustin said about his children.
Both Kevin and Dustin say it’s good work for Drake, Baylor and Kimber to experience while working an important part of agriculture — and to see where their food comes from, the work it takes to do it, and the value of a dollar.
Kimber said she has a hard time selling the pigs because she gets attached to them. Drake and Baylor also consider them pets to a point. But despite her attachment, Kimber goes forward and this year was able to earn a beautiful belt buckle for part of her prize in her latest show.
“It’s fun to learn about them and love them,” she said, cheerfully.
The children said the pigs have different personalities, such as anxieties or stubbornness, which often comes along with having a house pet.
“It’s just like having a pet dog,” Baylor said.
Drake said, “They have a personality and learning it through training, you get used to them and get to know them. You work together as a teammates.”
The three Hall children walk their pigs, teach them to lift their head and not rut while showing in front of judges at events. Sometimes, when the pigs are training together, they will misbehave and be mean to one another. But after more time and training, the pigs begin to get along better, the children said.
Yet, a larger challenge remains that requires constant training:
“Pigs don’t sweat,” Drake said as to why pigs rut — wallow in the mud.
Pigs also have strong snouts and will rut if not taught othewise. Kevin said his grandchildren will come out several times a day to walk their pigs around his property. Part of that training is preparing the pigs for showmanship competition. The Hall children have to present their pigs with their heads up, guiding them around enclosures for judges to watch and give scores.
“[It’s] a great family activity,” Kevin said.
Drake wishes to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he finishes his last year of high school. He is in Future Farmers of America, National Honor Society and is captain of his Varsity football team. He’s also lettered four years in football.
Baylor also enjoys football and especially baseball. He’s on Utah’s Accelerated Baseball Team, traveling around playing games with different teams. He hopes to play baseball for Brigham Young University someday.
“He’s a pretty darn good catcher,” Kevin said about Baylor.
Kimber like sports, too, and also spends time dancing and tumbling. She likes to play softball and go duck hunting with her father.
“She’s the cutest girl,” Kevin said about his granddaughter.
The breed of pigs the Hall children raise are crossbreeds: Yorkshire, Duroc, Berkshire and Hampshire are included in their bloodlines. Most judges look for weight during the other part of the shows. They look for muscle mass, trying to give more meat for markets to buy and sell.
The first year Drake raised and showed a pig, his father did a lot of research to help his son move forward with knowledge and to reach for winning results.
“It’s like a science, like body building,” Dustin said about feeding and helping pigs gain weight.
According to Dustin, the feed can be manipulated to help the pigs grow three to six pounds a day. When the pigs reach around six months, they can weigh 280 to 300 pounds.
Besides the pigs getting large, they also have to be trained for show. The competition is in two parts: one where the judges look over the physical shape and size of the pig followed by showmanship. This is where Drake, Baylor and Kimber must train and show off their pigs, to keep the animals’ heads up, not to rut in the mud, run away or fight other pigs.
The Halls explained that pigs are livestock and have specific terms. Gilt pigs are females who haven’t had piglets. When a female pig has piglets, she is called a sow. Boars are male pigs usually for breeding while barrows are like gilts. Barrows and gilts are ready for market at six months of age.
But Baylor said if the females are sows, “we keep them.”
Sows and boars are kept for five to six years. Sometimes a gilt is bought and brought home to breed. Barrows, however, are never brought back home and are sold around six to seven months.
“They grow like weeds,” Drake said.
Drake also explained a sow can have around 14 piglets at a time. Once they are done feeding from their mother, they begin to feed on their own. Unlike common misconceptions, the Halls don’t feed their pigs table scraps. Their feed includes corn, soybean meal and powdered fat to control fat content.
Kevin said he is rewarded watching his grandchildren work hard, learn valuable lessons and to see them rewarded for their efforts. Those rewards include several top prizes for raising and showing champion-grade pigs.
Just this year so far, Drake has earned Grand Champion Showman – Millard County Livestock Show, 3rd Place Overall Market Hog – Millard County Livestock Show, Grand Champion Senior Showman – Tooele County Junior Livestock show, Grand Champion Market Hog – Tooele County Livestock Show, Grand Champion Market Hog – South Eastern Utah Junior Livestock Show, Reserve Grand Champion Showman – South Eastern Utah Junior Livestock Show, 3rd Overall Senior Showman – Uintah Basin Livestock Show, 4th Place Overall Market Hog – Uintah Basin Livestock Show, 4th Place Overall Showman – Utah State Fair and 9th Place Overall Market Hog – Utah State Fair.
This has been a good year for Baylor, too, in the winner’s circle. He has earned 3rd Overall Intermediate Showman – Utah State Junior Livestock Show, 12th Place Overall Gilt – Utah State Junior Livestock Show, 3rd Place Overall Intermediate Showman -Millard County Livestock Show, 5th Place Overall Market Hog – Millard County Livestock Show, Grand Champion Showman – Uintah Basin Livestock Show, 5th Place Overall Market Hog – Uintah Basin Livestock Show, Reserve Champion Showman- Southeastern Utah Livestock Show, Reserve Champion Market Hog – Southeastern Utah Livestock Show, Grand Champion Showman – Tooele County Livestock Show, 3rd Overall Market Hog – Tooele County Livestock Show, 3rd Overall Intermediate Showman – Utah State Fair and 10th Overall Market Hog – Utah State Fair.
In 2017 Kimber earned 2nd place Overall Barrow – Southeastern Utah Livestock Show and 3rd Place Junior Showman – Southeastern Utah Livestock Show. For 2018 she won Grand Champion Junior Showman – Tooele County Livestock Show and 9th Place Overall Market Hog – Tooele County Junior Livestock Show.
Kevin said when Dustin was four years old, he started his son raising and showing sheep. As father and son, they’ve continued a family tradition and have passed on valuable lessons of hard work and setting goals with Drake, Baylor and Kimber.
“I’m grateful for all his love and support and the role he plays in making all of us successful,” Dustin said about his dad and his dad’s contributions of life lessons for his grandchildren.