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Reuter family excels in showing, breeding hogs

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 11/14/2013 8:15 AM

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ROSE CREEK, Minn. — Two Reuter siblings battled for overall Grand Champion honors in the show ring at the Minnesota State Fair.

Ashlyn, 15, came out on top with her purebred Yorkshire. Her older brother, Braden, 17, had Reserve Champion with a crossbred hog. Their younger sister, Camryn, 12, took Grand Champion honors the following week at the Junior Open Barrow Show at the state fair.

Older brother, Colten, 19, also earned a state fair trip at the Mower County Fair but didn't take his top hog, an up-and-coming gilt, because he wanted to use her for breeding stock. Instead, he showed a barrow.

"My oldest son, Colten, is particularly driven in this area," his mother, Lori, wrote in an email. "Of course, he does the most work, and the others usually end up with the big prize."

All hogs shown by the Reuter family are homebred, a particular point of pride for their grandfather, Carl.

It's a good family project, he said.

Carl and his wife, Ramona, were both in 4-H. Carl showed hogs and cattle. Their son, David, showed and raised hogs.

When David and Lori's oldest daughter, Bryten, now 22, wanted to show in 4-H, they purchased her a hog. It didn't go so well, so Carl suggested they start a herd and raise their own show pigs. They purchased two Duroc gilts and two Yorkshire gilts from Dean Compart. Bryten and an offspring from those gilts placed third at the Minnesota State Fair.

About a third of their crossbred herd and their entire Yorkshire herd can be traced back to a gilt bought from Chuck Olsen during an online auction in 2009. They have two daughters of the gilt left in the herd, and one of them is the mother of Ashlyn's state fair Grand Champion.

The younger Reuter girls started showing hogs in open shows around age 5 or 6, before they were eligible to participate in 4-H. Their main role now is pulling piglets, as their small hands are ideally suited to helping during the birth process.

The boys handle most of the other jobs. Together, Colten and Braden converted a former dairy barn into a show hog barn. They knocked out the concrete and did the wiring and plumbing.

They clean the pens, clip teeth and tails and vaccinate. Colten clips the hogs for shows and helps his father artificially inseminate gilts and sows.

Their sisters, though, spend hours working with their show hogs, walking them early and late in the day to avoid sunburn, washing them and applying mane and tail conditioner. They practice with them in a show arena Colten and Braden built.

"I like showing the pigs at the fairs," Camryn said. "I like working with them over the summer (and) working with family."

Countless hours go into their hog project, Colten said.

The gilts and sows are farrowed on their grandparents' farm and moved to their place at about 50 pounds to 60 pounds. They kept 20 to 25 hogs to work with during the summer and sold 80 as show pigs in 2013. The rest were sold as feeder pigs.

This was the first year they were able to produce the type of hog they've been breeding for, Braden said.

And do it consistently, Ashlyn added.

In about four months, they will farrow the first piglets from their new herd, Legacy Genetics. It's a herd comprised of their breeding stock and stock from Randy Morris' herd. Morris was killed in a car accident in December 2012. He was a good friend of David. Randy's widow, Leanne, and his son, Justin, have partnered with the Reuter family to form Legacy Genetics.

They will farrow 30 gilts and sows this year, double the 15 they farrowed in 2012. The offspring will be split between the two families.

The Reuters hope to continue and grow their show pig business.