Champions named in fair barrow competition

SUPPORTERS of the 4-H program often talk about the values taught through the program. You don’t need to look any further to find evidence of that support than Tuesday’s barrow show at the Bartholomew County Fair.

When 10-year-old Jacob Burbrink’s 227 lb. Duroc was named champion, nobody seemed happier for him than the second-place (reserve champion) winner – his 12-year-old sister, Ellie Burbrink.

Although they compete against each other, sibling rivalry is not a big deal.

“I will get excited for him to win, and he gets excited when I win,” Ellie explained.

The siblings assisted each other to the point that a victory for one of them is a victory for both, Ellie said. The brother and sister both attend White Creek Lutheran School.

Roughly 270 people were inside the 4-H Pavilion shortly after the competition started Tuesday morning, but there were also several contestants with family members inside the livestock barn throughout the event.

Another brother and sister also did quite well. This was the first year that Kole Jordan, 9, competed in livestock activities. The Rockcreek Elementary student took home a grand champion goat award Friday night, followed by the same honor Tuesday for his 290 pound Duroc barrow.

But Kole has someone with a lot of experience to offer help when needed. Now in her eighth year with 4-H, Alivia Jordan took home top honors Tuesday for her 245 pound Berkshire. The 15-year-old Columbus East High School student said this was the first time that her family has entered their own farm-bred pigs into competition.

“It was exciting, but a lot more difficult than in past years,” Alivia Jordan said. “There’s been so much to do, and not enough time.”

On Monday, she won a championship trophy during the competition for gilts, which are young adult female pigs that have not yet produced a litter of piglets.

Barrows and gilts are one of the few livestock competitions that have not experienced a drop in entries this year, fair officials said.

There were 175 competing barrows this year – the same number as in 2021. However, that figure is down substantially from the 223 that were entered during the 2019 fair.

Besides a drop in 4-H membership as the result of COVID-19 two years ago, an unusually high number of 10-year-members left the program last summer, long-time 4-H parent and supporter Levi Fischer said.

The number of entries each year also depends greatly on the length of time it takes to raise a livestock animal.

From conception to birth, the gestation time for a pig averages about three months, three weeks and three days (115 days), Fischer said.

That means raising pigs is far less expensive than raising cattle. The gestation time for steers is roughly nine months, and calves do not reach full maturing for about two years, according to the USDA.

“Cattle entries are going to be quite low,” predicted Fischer in regard to Thursday’s 4-H Beef Show.