Article and photos by Caycie Clayton
There has been a recent addition to the SRHS community—pigs! The Agriculture department has brought pigs to our school that students will prepare for the upcoming Sonoma County Fair in addition to other shows. Currently the SRHS Ag barn is occupied by jackpot pigs, pigs of different breeds specifically for show. FFA plans on getting more pigs for this summer’s Sonoma County Fair in a couple of weeks.
Sofia Henderson, president of the FFA, informed that these adorable animals come from different reputable breeders. Most are from SmallTown Genetics, which is down south in Stanislaus county. The students pick their pigs, with upperclassmen getting first choice. Students take care of one to two pigs depending on their experience with the Ag program.
FFA gets pigs to raise for fairs and shows, The Sonoma County Fair being the largest in the area. This fair assesses the pig on multiple aspects. Being a market fair, the pig is evaluated for its build and what it’s going to produce for a meat products. Then, there’s the showmanship show which judges how the animals are shown. Finally, there is an auction for the animals.
Due to having extra animals at the school to take care of, there’s a need for extra resources. The school provides most of the money, but it doesn’t cover the cost for all of the supplies. The school supplies the feed, but students need to come up with the money for other items, such as shampoo, themselves. Returning students often use money that is left over from selling animals previous years. Other students get money from jobs they have outside of school. There are also loan programs, such as the Jameson grant, which helps pay for costs as well.
Some students hold conflicting opinions about raising animals because of where they end up (as meat). However, these pigs are being well taken care of and loved. They get individual attention with students, which is much more than most meat industries could ever say. Students build personal bonds with the animals. Although they’re ending up as food, they’re living enjoyable lives!
Sofia Henderson, is taking care of Fernando, a friendly black and pink pig of her own. She stated, “I really enjoy being with the pigs, it’s fun and the relationship you build with your animals is fun and unique.” Having animals at our school is another aspect of SRHS where students can explore different niches in which they love.