There were not many bidders left in the stands as the last few hogs made their way to the auction block at the WD Swine Farm show and sale on Saturday. The farm was selling pigs exclusively for projects, mostly 4-H and FFA, and many of the school-aged bidders were already happily admiring their purchases through the bars of the pig pens.
A few groups were still bidding for the young swine, including students from Salinas High School FFA. Students and their advisor, Lindsay Almond, traveled several hours to buy project pigs to raise and show at the Salinas Valley Fair.
“Raising animals to show teaches students responsibility, peer collaboration, and business management. It also teaches them a lot about following through,” Almond said.
The few Salinas High School FFA students who attended the swine auction picked their own pigs, set a target price, and made their own bids during the live auction. Over the next few months they will care for their own hogs, including feeding and cleaning up after them.
“They do it all themselves, every step of the way,” Almond said.
For many 4-H and FFA students, the annual WD Swine Farm sale officially kicks off the fair season. For 14 years now Turlock based WD Swine Farm has sold young hogs for 4-H and FFA projects. Ken Watje, father of owner Ryan Watje, said that the business is really a specialty farm. They breed the hogs and sell them to students, who raise them to show and auction at fairs and swine shows. WD Swine Farm hogs have won Grand Champion and other honors at the California State Fair and other swine shows across the country.
“Today’s sale was excellent, pigs went as far as Texas and Oklahoma,” Ken Watje said.
Andreina Perez and Vanessa Salgado of the Everette Alvarado High School FFA also traveled from Salinas to attend the auction. They both bid on lambs to show at the Salinas Valley Fair in May.
“You have to really pay attention to the animal before you bid,” said Perez, who bought her fourth lamb at the sale on Saturday.
This was Salgado’s second time purchasing a project lamb, and she enjoyed learning more about the auction process and where her lamb came from.
“It was interesting to see the system behind buying a lamb,” Salgado said.
In all, 88 project hogs were sold at the kick-off sale. By now they are all in school or private barns, being cared for by students hoping to raise the next grand champion hog.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.