PIG Animal
Extension Swine Husbandry
ANS 96-805S    

Showing Swine

Matt C. Claeys
Extension Livestock Specialist
Department of Animal Science
North Carolina State University

Showmanship is one of the most important parts of a 4-H swine project. Showmanship is judged on your ability to exhibit an animal to its best advantage. Advanced planning and practice at home are keys to becoming a good showperson.

Your personal appearance is very important. You should be neatly dressed and look like a livestock person. Leather shoes or boots should be worn for safety and appearance reasons. If the animal steps on your foot it is much easier for the hog's foot to slip off of a leather boot than a tennis shoe. You should wear nice jeans or pants, but never faded blue jeans because they do not look professional.

Your shirt should be a nice button down or polo shirt that is pleasing to the eye, not a camouflage shirt or T-shirt. Your shirt should be tucked into your pants and a belt should be worn. It is advisable not to wear a hat because it may distract the judge's concentration. Planning, practicing, and neat appearance will help you down the path of success.

Showing Equipment Needed

A driving tool is required for you to let the hog know where to go. A livestock cane, whip, riding crop, stick, or a piece of PVC pipe can be used. However, the tool of choice is a livestock cane.

A small hand brush is needed. It should be small enough to fit in your back pocket.

A sprinkle can is needed but you should not bring it into the ring during the show. Your need for the sprinkle can will be discussed later.

Before the Show

You must thoroughly wash your animal and be sure that it is clean. All soiled, dirty areas must be cleaned. You need to take special care not to get water in the ears of the animal as it may affect its equilibrium. Prior to returning your pig to its pen, check for and remove any soiled bedding from the pen. If you need additional bedding to replace what you remove, add it before you return your clean hog to the pen. This will help to keep additional dust, chaff, or small wood chips off your clean animal.

Just before entering the ring, you should sprinkle a little water on your hog with the sprinkle can. Then brush your hog's hair the way it naturally lays. This means that the hair on the hog's top should NOT be pulled straight back. This will make the top appear flat and a flat top is a fat top. You should brush the hair with the natural part down the spine. This is the way the hog's hair naturally lays and it gives the appearance of a meatier top.

You must not use oils and powders on your hog. These items will make your animal hot and packers will not accept hogs with oils and powders on them.

Lastly, you should NOT clip the underline, jowl, or ears. Clipping is not needed and does not help the appearance of your hog. Judges want to see your animals in their "working clothes" and not clipped.

Show Ring

A superior job done in showing your hog starts long before the class is called. Practice driving and training your animal at home. The extra practice will help you control the hog and polish your showing skills. You may want to pretend that a tree is the judge. Work on maneuvering your pig around the tree as you would a judge in the show ring. As you gain more control of the animal, a figure eight pattern works well as practice for any situation that you might encounter.

After the Show

You should return your hog to its pen. Be sure that the gate is locked and that fresh water is provided. Then go back to the show so you can learn more from observing the other showpersons.

Lastly, you should be a gracious participant. Congratulate those exhibitors that had a good day. Learn from your experience and strive to do better at the next show. Remember, just by participating, working hard, and doing your very best, you are a winner!!

Swine Showing Equipment Checklist


  • feed pan
  • water bucket
  • portable nipple waterer(optional)
  • sprinkle can
  • wash brushes
  • hose (short)
  • soap
  • cane or driving tool
  • small show brush
  • health papers
  • show catalog
  • pen signs
  • hammer & nails
  • wire & pliers
  • hog feed
  • bedding (sawdust or chips)


  • camera and film
  • towels, washcloth and soap
  • lawn chairs
  • rubber boots & work clothes
  • show clothes
  • safety pins (for exhibitor numbers)
  • First aid kit
  • flashlight & batteries

Reviewed by:
Darwin G. Braund, William L. Flowers, and James R. Jones, Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University

Since June 1, 2000