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CCHS ag students bring home the bacon

  • FFA students Joe Hammond, Ben Naumann, Jace Landt, and Joey Heidebrink delivered the eight pigs raised by Charles City High School students to market in Ionia earlier this week. (Photo submitted.)

  • Charles City junior Joey Heidebrink holds up a piglet at the start of the school year. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

These little piggies went to market.

One dozen piglets raised to adulthood by Charles City High School animal science students are now in the process of becoming bacon, ham and sausage. FFA students Joe Hammond, Ben Naumann, Jace Landt, and Joey Heidebrink delivered the final eight pigs to market in Ionia earlier this week.

“And with that, all the pigs are gone,” said Charles City ag teacher Bret Spurgin. “Great work by these four (students) today getting the last eight pigs to Ionia.”

Eight of the pigs were sold to the Floyd County Farm Bureau, which will use the meat for several different things, including a “farm-to-fork” meal with Hy-Vee, a meal for school teachers at the start of the 2019-20 school year, and donations to schools in the county.

Three of the pigs were sold to local families. The last pig will be used by the FFA for events throughout the year.

Spurgin said the pigs all weighed between 280 and 320 pounds when they were sent to market.

“The students did an excellent job in raising them and we are happy with how they turned out,” he said.

As part of an animal science class, for the first 2½ weeks of the school year one section of one of the ag rooms at Charles City High School was a temporary home for the sow and the piglets. Then the pigs were taken to a farm outside of town, where they were in “grow mode” until this week.

More than 20 students in the class were all on a chore schedule, with two people from the class tending to the pigs every morning and two people every evening, heading out to the farm to check on them.

The students tagged the pigs, castrated the boars and learned how to give them their necessary vaccination shots. They weighed them once a week to track their weights and figure out their growth to adjust the feed plans.

Spurgin said the students were in contact with the feed mill throughout to determine rations.

The sow and the 12 piglets came from the Iowa Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair. They were born Aug. 13. Iowa Pork Producers had sent an email out at the beginning of last summer, to see if any FFA or school ag programs were interested, and Charles City responded.

“It’s a learning experience that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” Spurgin said. “It’s been a great opportunity for these kids to be able to try and do new things.”

The learning experience will continue. This spring, the veterinary tech class at Charles City will be selecting a boar and will be breeding the sow for a live birthing display at the 2019 Floyd County Fair. The class will work with local veterinarians on the project.

“The plan is to a have a farrowing set-up on display during the fair, with a live cam, so that people can watch the sow give birth and raise pigs,” Spurgin said.

He said the event will give students a better understanding about modern swine production.

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