Willis siblings show hogs at Belle Fair

Posted 7/13/22

The four Willis siblings live in Bland, go to school in Belle, and raise hogs on the family farm outside of Owensville to show and sell at the annual Belle Fair.

Sam Willis will be a senior at …

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Willis siblings show hogs at Belle Fair

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The four Willis siblings live in Bland, go to school in Belle, and raise hogs on the family farm outside of Owensville to show and sell at the annual Belle Fair.

Sam Willis will be a senior at Belle High School during the 2022-23 school year.

“This is my pig, his name is Red,” Sam said while gesturing to his rust-colored pig, aptly named. “We have a family farm outside of Owensville where we raise hogs and we do the fair annually. It is a fun time.”

Red was patiently waiting his turn at the sale with his three siblings who came with the Willis siblings — Morgan, Hank, and Jeb Willis.

The four pigs were in the same pen at the farm but were separated two to a pen at the fair. They were born on the Willis family farm.

“Red was born on December 1 so he is a few months old,” Sam said. “Not as big as he would have been since the fair is a month earlier. That kind of messes with him. I am gonna sell him here in just a second.”

The family breeds their own piglets and the ones that aren’t raised by the kids are sold to other 4-H and FFA students.

For the last three years, Sam has raised and shown his own hog at the fair. His livestock career began when he was young and he became a member of Highgate 4-H.

“I am a senior now this year, but I joined Highgate 4-H in eighth grade,” he said.

When Sam started his high school career at BHS, he opted to join FFA and participate in that group’s events through the school.

“It is an awesome experience,” he said. “Work with (the animals). Build a relationship between you and the animal and put as much work in as you can because it will pay off.”

Red wore the tag number 195.

“Animals are weighed in March and issued a number,” he explained. “When they unload them at the fair he is weighed again and the difference between his beginning weight and ending weight is then divided and averaged. The pig that has the highest weight of gain wins the weight of gain award.”

Red, sold at $5 a pound, weighed around 160 in March and about 260 prior to the sale. Sam said it is a good rate of gain. His hogs were one of a few in attendance at the sale as membership in the FFA and 4-H clubs are reportedly down, partially due to the COVID interruption. Sam encourages anyone who is considering 4-H or FFA to take an active part.

“My older brother used to do this with us,” Sam said. “Last year was his last year. I have one more show next year. Then it’s just Jank, Jeb and Morgan.”

Morgan was showing her pig while Sam was preparing Red. Jeb and Hank were patiently waiting for their turns.

Jeb, 9, has been raising and showing hogs for two years.

“A hog can win two champions — grand champion or reserve champion,” he explained.

His pigs have not yet taken either award.

“My pig’s name is Dip N’ Dots because he is spotted,” Jeb explained.

He said there is no secret to getting them so big. Just taking care of them and having good feed.

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