Fair nears finale – Auction concludes intense effort by young livestock growers | TheUnion.com

Fair nears finale – Auction concludes intense effort by young livestock growers

The concept of a pig that’s too fat might seem strange to the unenlightened, but Tiffany and Travis Gomes have a clear understanding of the concept.

In fact, if the Grass Valley-area siblings’ York Cross swine tipped the scales at more than 280 pounds, they would be disqualified from the competition at the Nevada County Fair.

That’s why Tiffany, a 14-year-old preparing for her freshman year at Nevada Union High School, walked her swine, Dori, for 20 minutes a day and checked her weight periodically in preparation for the fair.

The Gomes family is one of many that prepares exhaustively for the fair each year. The annual livestock competitions require not only diligence from the youths involved but also a keen understanding of the science and business aspects of agriculture.

Dori, a cross between Yorkshire and Hampshire swine, weighed a mere 45 pounds when Tiffany purchased her in April. The oinker tipped the scales at 234 pounds at the weigh-in for the fair.

“They can gain two pounds a day,” Travis, 16, said Friday. “You figure they gain one pound for every four pounds of feed.” If they put on weight too fast, their feed is adjusted to keep them under 280 pounds.

Travis added that slimmed-down York Crosses produce better tasting meat, which will make them more valuable when they’re sold at Sunday’s Livestock Auction. He entered his first York Cross at the fair last year and sold it at the auction for about $800. He figures it cost him about $500 to raise the swine.

Another brother, Tommy, also raises swine for the fair, and that prompted Tiffany to try her hand this year. All are FFA members.

The siblings arise at 6 a.m. to clean the pens, wash the animals and lay out the feed at the family’s five-acre spread. Because York Crosses have no sweat glands, they spend a lot of time wallowing in mud holes to keep cool.

On Friday, Tiffany was looking forward to the auction as she spritzed Dori at the swine exhibit area. How much money does she expect to get for Dori, which received a second place in the market meat quality category?

“That’s probably the biggest thing everybody asks,” she said. However, she was unwilling to hazard a guess Friday.

Travis isn’t sure if he wants to farm when he gets older, but he plans to keep raising swine for probably the best of reasons: “It’s just fun.”

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