Two-hundred pounds of pink flesh rolled around in a pig pen on Thursday and squealed at the sight of strangers in the agricultural barn at Los Fresnos High School.
The squeals came from the Yorkshire pig that 17-year-old Truett Cawlfield of Los Fresnos has raised since October and will present during one of the many livestock show events this weekend during the 2013 Cameron County Fair & Livestock Show and Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo.
To avoid possible complications, the students breed multiple pigs, which came in handy last year for Truett when his prized hog hurt a leg. Truett ended up presenting the runt of the two.
“This pig was being so difficult,” Truett said. “The more you have to hit a pig to get it to go where you want, the more difficult they get.”
However, this year Truett’s No. 1 pick is healthy. He plans to sell the runtier of the two in the next few weeks.
“This one looks like a hotdog,” Truett said of his least favorite hog. “It doesn’t have the shoulders and the butt. See how muscular that one looks, this one is kind of ‘eh.’”
Because he knows both pigs are headed to slaughter, he doesn’t name them.
“Some people get attached and name them,” the senior said. “But then it’s like you’re taking your pet to the market.”
The city of Los Fresnos has about 5,500 residents, but the school district serves more than 10,000 students, said Ronnie Zamora, spokesman for Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District. The district covers wide expanses of rural areas, home to many ranches.
Donald Wernecke, who teaches the livestock and wildlife course, said the projects are a form of discipline for many of his students.
“It’s intensive work,” Wernecke said. “Three times a day cleaning your pig, feeding, watering, walking, working out your animal, letting them get to know you. It’s a five-month project on hogs.”
The class, affiliated with FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, meets once a day, but students are responsible for feeding their animals at least twice daily to keep them growing.
According to Wernecke, a pig can consume three to four pounds of food every day.
Truett spends an additional 45 minutes caring for his pig every day and returns to the school on weekends to make sure the animal is fed properly.
Mike Cargill, 16, of Los Fresnos, will show three lambs, one goat and two steers, which are castrated male cattle.
He said he spends about 10 hours a week grooming and caring for his animals, and he loves the chaos of livestock shows.
For Truett, the time spent with his swine has taught him how to read its mind.
The exercise will help him when he goes to Texas Tech University to study wildlife biology.
“Wild animals, they all have their own way of thinking,” Truett said. “Despite the fact that these pigs are domesticated, it gives me a little bit of a window into the way that wild animals think. Because even though they are domesticated, they’re still a little crazier than your average house dog.”