When Alec Morrisett’s three pigs arrived in Cut Bank on Mar. 25, his main goal for the 4-H swine project was to have fun. When the dust settled at the 2019 Marias Fair swine show, not only had Alec had fun, but Alec and Okie had bested 73 other hogs for the Grand Champion Market Swine title!
Alec’s project kicked off in March when his father, Eric, met his grandfather in Wyoming to pick up Alec’s three pigs. ‘Okie’ a Yorkshire cross was raised ten miles from Alec’s grandparents while ‘Pork Chop’ originated in Indiana and ‘Texas Belle’ was from the Lone Star state. Alec and Eric had spent the two weeks prior preparing three pens in their Quonset for the pigs.
After the pigs arrived, it was daily chores for Alec. “I had to feed them, brush them, and walk them,” Alec said. In order to train the pigs, Alec used a whip and took his pigs on walks around their farm or in a stubble field to build their endurance and teach them to respond to his cues. “When they got tired and we were finished, they would run right back to their pen!” Alec exclaimed.
Alec fed his pigs a precise combination of pig feed and oats, hand weighed twice daily to ensure an accurate feeding. Weekly, he weighed his pigs to ensure they were on target for the fair. When the Marias Fair rolled around, Okie weighed in at 275 pounds. While there were heavier pigs at the fair, the judge still selected Okie as, “He thought he was a pretty good pig!” Alec said.
Winning Grand Champion far exceeded Alec’s expectations. “I just came to show my pig so I could save money for college,” Alec said, noting he felt very lucky to win. “My dad said I did a heck of a job, and everyone was crying,” he noted. Nine-year-old Alec was quick to point out that while his dad had shown pigs in FFA, Eric never received Grand Champion so therefore, he has already beat his dad at pig showing!
Alec’s project included more than just the feeding, training, and trophy, however. “I learned lots of stuff,” Alec said, “Cuts of meat, types of shots, and all about hard work.” The swine project also allowed Alec to hone his public speaking skills through his illustrated talk on swine breeds that he presented at the county contest and fair where he received a blue ribbon. In addition, Alec exhibited a gilt in the breeding swine division of the fair, earning Grand Champion breeding project. His trio of Okie, Pork Chop, and Texas Belle earned champion Pen of Three honors for the fair as well.
With Okie sold to Cut Bank Tire, Alec is looking ahead to next year with plans to raise two Duroc hogs and a Yorkshire hog. “The first time I looked in my pig book, I was entertained by them,” Alec said of his new interest in the red colored breed of swine. He hopes to continue saving his 4-H pig money for college at Oklahoma State University with the plan to, “Become a farmer, maybe.” Regardless of Alec’s future career path, no doubt the hard work he’s learned through his swine project will take him far!