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July Heat Wave Stunts Growth Of Swine, Cattle In Competition

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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WACONIA, Minn. (WCCO) – Some kids in the 4-H program and the FFA are showing up to the county fairs with smaller animals than years past due to the record breaking temperatures in July.

Philip Clark, whose family has won ribbons in the swine competition Carver County Fair, can attest to the fact that the blue ribbon is a badge of honor.

“It’s what you work for almost every night of the summer,” said Clark.

It’s recognition for months of raising and caring for animals. Philip’s family will walk away with a big reward for their hard work – one of their pigs was named grand champion.

“That’s the ultimate goal, go to the state fair,” he said.

While one pig will compete on the state’s biggest stage, another couldn’t quite carry its weight.

“That one could handle the heat, this one didn’t want to grow,” said Philip, while pointing to a pig that weighed 100 pounds less than the champion.

The trend is showing up in the county fair circuit. The summer heat soaked up the appetite from animals meant for market.

“There was a lot of smaller pigs this year,” said Clark.

That heat wave, with 100 degree temperatures, hit at the worst possible time. July is a crucial month for kids who show their animals. The final weeks before the county fairs are when the animals put on the most weight.

“She just kind of wanted to keep cool, so it was hard to get her to eat a lot,” said Clark.

Pigs weren’t the only animals affected. According to cattle farmer Eric Schoenbauer, some herds also struggled in the heat.

“There were some that went off feed and you just got to get through that,” said Schoenbauer.

High temps likely made a 300 pound difference for one cow in Schoenbauer’s herd. In a competition of weight and presentation, this year’s winner may be the one can best manage the weather.

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