View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Some Pig 

I like going to the State Fair. Now, it's not the Minnesota State Fair, with their grand influx of conservative radio personalities, but it's still fun.

The junk dealers and the rides that look like they could be 1940s originals (that's not a compliment, by the way) aside, the animals are the main event for me. After all, it's one thing to sell wax hands for a living, quite another to be raising the animals I'm going to be eating soon.

OK, not these animals. I won't be eating these animals any time soon. But I did have some questions, anyway. We wandered into the "Sheep, Swine, and Goats" barn, currently occupied by swine. Swine sleeping, eating, parading around for buyers and judges.

I wanted to know if there were different breeds of pig, and what the purpose of them would be? Dogs are bred for different kinds of work. Cattle are bred for different purposes (milk, meat) and conditions. It seemed to me, though, that pigs pretty much all end up the same way. So what's the point of different breeds?

Well, it turns out that the purebred pigs, the labs and the cocker spaniels, are just breeding stock for the mongrels that the farmers really want. A proper mix of the right lines, and that pig will balloon up faster than any of the purebreds. Less feed and less time to market means higher margin and lower inventory cost.

Still, it makes sense that the champion and grand champion sleep a little easier.

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