A brother and sister duo from the northeast Missouri town of Stanberry knows hogs.
Since arriving at the Missouri State Fair, Madi Sager, 13, and Collin Sager, 11, earned the 4-H Champion and Overall Champion Boar Award as well as several other ribbons. The kids live on a 240-acre farm with their parents, multi-generation farmers Rob and Marci Sager, and help raise hogs, cows and some produce.
Exactly what are the Sager kids’ secrets for pulling first-place ribbons at the toughest livestock competition in Missouri? They care about their animals, they work hard and they are proud of what they have accomplished.
“This is my pet Boar, Howie the Hereford,” Collin said. “He got overall champion of boars. He is a good boar he just needs about six more weeks to get whiter. He’s a March pig — he’s really small because I showed versus January and February pigs.”
Collin also took a third place and Madi a fourth place Herford Gilt ribbon.
“These are our Hereford Gilts,” Madi said. “They are just different from the rest of them, no one really shows them. It’s a Hereford Cow in a pig version, they just kind of look funny.”
The kids also have a couple Berkshire Gilts they have not shown yet, but they expect great things from the pigs. Collin said the secret to a good hog begins with the breeding cycle.
“You want to get them bred a little bit earlier for birth in February. These are March pigs and they are really small,” he said. “The little pigs are a lot younger and they want to go at a faster pace than the bigger ones.”
Madi and Collin usually wake up, go to school, and do the things kids do, but when they get home, they are in the hog business.
“We don’t go before school, but after school we will go out there and feed them and work with them,” Madi said. You take them out of the pen and wash them and walk them around the yard so they will get used to what a whip is and get used to you and everything.”
It is rumored that pigs are actually one of the smartest animals next to humans. The kids agree.
“If you work with them for like 30 minutes they know. If you touch them on a certain side, they know which way to go,” Madi said. “If you put them in the carryall one time they know what it is and what to do once they get in there, so I think they are pretty smart animals.”
Undoubtedly, their parents are proud.
“I’m proud of all the hard work they put in to get to here,” Rob said. “They spend a lot of time walking them and washing them. Every day they are out there.”
Marci added that it is a lengthy process to get here as well.
“They have worked really hard,” she said. “You start early in the year, it’s not like it’s just show time. You start now looking at the next season to see what you’re e going to do and how it’s going to happen.”