At the Madison County Fair
Desaray Tipton’s first market animal project transformed into a family hobby.
The incoming senior at Sheridan High School started a breeding project with her family three years ago. They sold 33 piglets to local 4-H and Future Farmers of America students this year. Tipton picked three piglets from the litters to raise for the livestock show at the 2020 Madison County Fair.
“The reason that I’m taking Missy is because she’s already made weight and she’s really, really good looking and I get along better with her than the other two,” Tipton said. “With showing, our personalities coincide better.”
Each student can show one animal at the county fair’s livestock show. The other two pigs that Tipton selected, Derek and Meredith, came from the same sow that produced Buttercup, the pig that won her grand champion market overall and showmanship at the 2019 Madison County Fair. But Missy was a natural for the spotlight from the beginning.
“When she was little, she loved attention and my mom started calling her Little Missy because she would just hop up on the farrowing crate side and just want love,” Tipton said. “That kind of stuck.”
Tipton keeps records for her FFA supervised agricultural experience breeding project and her FFA market animal project. FFA and 4-H students are graded on their animal records. An animal’s record tracks its growth, activity, feeding, vaccinations, medications and budget. Tipton said that keeping records for both of her projects can get difficult. But with some help from her mother with the records, she enjoys both of her animal projects.
“I actually like it all because we breed these animals and people around here – there are a few in Sheridan that have amazing pigs that came from us,” Tipton said. “It’s really nice to see what our breeding stock can do along with mine and then you can start comparing.”
Tipton welcomed the challenge of getting her two younger pigs to make the weight limit of 215 pounds for the county fair. She compared the different results of littermates, Derek and Meredith. She observed the unpredictable aspects of raising animals.
“Meredith was a month younger than Missy,” Tipton said. “Everyone’s asking will they make weight; will they make weight? And with the right feeding, yes. It’s just amazing because we weren’t exactly sure. Well, Derek made weight, which he’s a farrow and farrows usually grow faster than gilts. Meredith is a gilt but she’s still in the 180s. When I picked her out, she had great shoulders, great butt, everything. I was like she’ll do great, but she hasn’t progressed the way I wanted. So, I like the whole project honestly.”
Tipton said she still gets nervous going into the market class. She likes the competition of showing pigs at Jackpot shows around the state and at the county fair. Her double victory in the market class and showmanship at the 2019 Madison County Fair is a feat she hopes to repeat with Missy.
“That’s my biggest goal is to keep beating in showmanship,” Tipton said. “Last year, I think Mr. Wetherbee said, was a once in a lifetime thing but if you can repeat it that’s amazing.”
The county fair canceled all of its events except the FFA and 4-H livestock sales due to COVID-19. Arena seating will be limited and socially distanced, and nose and mouth coverings will be required. Many elements will be different but most of the FFA and 4-H students with animal projects will compete in the 2020 livestock sale.
“Stay calm and keep control of my pig, that’s every year’s goal,” Tipton said.