|By DEBORAH BEHRENDS
BURLINGTON, Ill. — Eleven years of raising and showing pigs has finally paid off large for the Krueger family of Burlington. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Krueger and her sister, Rebecca, took 12 hogs to the Kane County Fair.
With a great showing, nine of the 12 earned class championships, and two earned the coveted titles of Grand Champion Barrow, for their 7-month-old castrated hog, and Grand Champion Market Gilt for their female pig of the same age.
The girls’ father, Dan, said his family is just beginning to get into breeding show pigs and the win will provide them with a top-quality female to breed for next year’s showings.
Krueger said that while Victoria gets the prize money, his elder daughter, Rebecca, deserves a good deal of the credit.
“Rebecca does three quarters of the work feeding, washing, cutting the pigs’ hair. There is a lot that goes into it. These are not normal pigs when you think about it. They are treated like kings and queens,” Krueger said.
To the outsider, it seems more like a hog spa than a pig farm.
Rebecca said they get up early to feed the pigs every morning and have to feed them at least twice per day. The stalls must be cleaned twice a week with fresh shavings in the pens. To top it all off, they also bathe up to 15 pigs as often as twice a week.
“You do it to keep their skin white and clean. You can tell which pigs have been washed more often,” Rebecca said. Add to that the clipping and brushing, and you have the animal version of an extreme makeover. The pigs tolerate all the fuss pretty well.
“At first it’s kind of hard, they don’t act good until they get used to their owners. Then they lay there and enjoy it,” Victoria said.
But it all pays off in the judge’s arena where Victoria’s grand champs pulled in more than $2,500 in prize money.
In fact, because Rebecca does the lion’s share of the work, she was the one who chose which hogs to show as her own and which to give to her little sister.
“I gave her what I didn’t think were the winners,” Rebecca said.
Luckily for Victoria, the Kane County Fair judges did not agree.
According to Rebecca, the judges chose the larger production-type hogs.
“I chose the more showy hogs. For my personal preference, it was just a better pig,” she said.
But it’s not the money that keeps the Krueger girls coming back year after year.
“I love the competition and meeting new people. It’s just fun. If you’re not having fun, I wouldn’t do it,” Rebecca said.
Victoria says she doesn’t think she could ever live in the city because she loves being around the livestock so much. As to what she plans to do with the prize money, Victoria says, “I will save it up for college. I’m thinking about being an elementary school teacher, but that’s not for sure yet.”
After their big wins at Kane County, Victoria and Rebecca packed up their hogs and headed to the DuPage County Fair where Victoria took Grand Champion Gilt for one of her showings, and Rebecca took Reserve Grand Champion Barrow for one of her hogs.
The girls will show the hogs at least once more in DuPage County before taking them to the state fair where the competition promises to be even tougher.
This farm news was published in the August 9, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.