Beyond the show ring: FFA students learn swine facility management

Nineteen youths from across the state came to Columbia on May 5 to compete in the first Missouri FFA Swine Facility Management Contest.

The event, hosted by the University of Missouri and the Missouri Pork Association, took place at the Mizzou Swine Teaching and Research Farm, part of MU South Farm in Columbia.

The learning experience was designed to open students’ eyes to opportunities in the swine industry beyond the show ring, said MU Extension state swine specialist Tim Safranski.

“For a lot of youth, their experience with swine is showing and the show pig,” Safranski said. “A lot of our high school students don’t see an opportunity beyond that.” The pilot program is to help bridge that gap, he said.

Students were given materials to study, mostly from the National Pork Board.

“The whole idea was to assess the students’ ability to learn, study and remember what they’ve studied,” Safranski said.

The students were quizzed on aspects of swine production, from feed, water and air quality to facility management and record-keeping. They completed a written exam then moved through a half-dozen stations at the swine barn to test their knowledge.

The competition was based on the principles of the National Pork Board’s We Care, Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance programs, designed to ensure producers raise pigs in a safe environment.

Contest winners are listed on the Missouri Pork Association’s website at