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A2o—Lancastf Farming, S^t^rda^T'
Abe Hess: raising production barrow champions
BY LAURA ENGLAND
CONESTOGA - What does it
take to produce a well-dressed,
market quality hog?
Ask Lancaster County swine
producer Abe Hess, of R 1
Conestoga. Hess recently won the
champion production barrow
award of the 1983 Lancaster-
Chester Hog Carcass Show. In fact,
all four of his entries placed in the
top ten - first, third, fourth and
Hess’ champion barrow weighed
70 pounds at the onset of the 106-
day production test. The animal
finished out at 270 pounds with an
average daily gain of 1.89 pounds,
the highest ADG recorded among
the 23 entries.
The overall production barrow
index for the hog was 103.2. This
number was determined based on
the following test results; a car
cass weight of 204.5 pounds; a fat
index of 1.0; a loin eye area of 6.90
inches; a body length of 34.1 in
ches; and a muscle percentage of
Hess, who’s been raising hogs in
his farrow to finish operation for 25
years, said this is the best he’s
done in the contest. Last year, he
owned the champion barrow on
foot which is selected by visual
Over the years, Hess said he’s
improved the quality of his
barrows through selection of
quality breeding stock. He owns
five boars - one Yorkshire, two
Hampshires and two Durocs - all
which he purchased. He
crossbreeds these with his
predominately Yorkshire sow
herd, depending on the cross and
quality he hopes to achieve.
Hess markets his hogs year
round and has set up his breeding
program so sows are farrowing
every seven to eight weeks. “I run
Abe Hess, R 1 Conestoga, stands inside his farrowing
Potter Holstein club elects
GENESEE Larry Specht,
Penn State dairy science
specialist, was guest speaker at
the annual meeting of the Potter
County Holstein Club on Monday at
Penn Valley Resort, Genesee. He
explained the new linear program
scoring of dairy cattle and how it
p. compared with the former
J classification system.
Approximately SO persons at
tended the buffet dinner and
meeting. Kevin Risser and Jack
Thomas, whose-terms as directors
Elected as officmi^i
Sows remain with their piglets for up to seven weeks in the farrowing pens. Dennis Smojcer, Genesee.
the sows in three groups,” Hess
explained, “and by the time the
third group is ready to farrow, the
first group is ready to move out to
the gestation bam.”
The three groups of sows
average from 24 to 30 animals per
group. They are bred naturally
with two services per sow. Hess
tries to have the groups bred
within a week, allowing the sows to
farrow about the same time.
When breeding for
replacements, Hess breeds his
Yorkshire sows to his Yorkshire
boar. “Yorkshires have a good
mothering ability,” he said, “and
they tend to have larger litters
than Hampshires or Durocs.”
Hess crossbreeds for his market
hogs to get the best of both breeds.
With crossing, a farmer gets an
animal with more muscling and
finishing ability, Hess said.
Litter sizes normally run from 10
to 14 piglets, Hess said, and
weaning from nine to 10 is con
sidered good. The piglets are
weaned at seven weeks and are
then moved from the farrowing
house into the fattening barn.
There, the animals stay until five
or six months of age when they
reach desired market weight.
Hess finishes out his hogs from
220 to 225 pounds. To reach this
weight, the hogs are fed a strong
protein diet during the first half of
growth and are switched to a lower
protein diet during the second half.
The feed is a mixture of Purina
supplement and com. Hess buys
the commercial supplement,
grinds it and mixes it with com he
grows on his 110-acre 'farm, ap
propriately named Bacon Acres.
For the starting ration, 800 pounds
of supplement is mixed with 1,200
pounds of corn. For finishing, the
ration is 600 pounds of supplement
to 1,400 pounds of com.
An open front swine barn houses Abe Hess' 80-sow herd and five boars. Hess said this
type of housing is popular in southern states.
Hess fattens about 450 hogs at
any one tune and markets 20 to 25
animals per week. The hogs are
sold at local autions on a visual
Hess, his wife Janie, who is a
part-time school bus driver, and
five children provide the backbone
for the hog operation.
Management practices include
keeping birth and breeding
records. No records are kept on
average daily gains, Hess said.
When piglets are two to three
weeks old, they are castrated.
Their teeth are also clipped to keep
them from cutting each other or
their mothers, and they are also
given iron shots.
The piglets and their mothers
are kept separately by litters in
six-foot wide pens each with a two
foot wide farrowing crate. Twenty
four pens are placed in the
farrowing house which was con
verted from a tobacco shed about
18 years ago, Hess said.
During gestation, the sows are
housed in an open-front bam that
Hess built six years ago. The boars
are also housed in this bam and
receive the same feed mixture as
the sowsl.Sows are fed, ad lib, four
to five pounds each per day
depending on their gestation cycle.
The finishing pens, built inside a
bank bam, hold from 75 to 100 pigs
each. The pigs are divided among
the 13 pens based on age and
weight. They are also fed on an ad
In addition to raising hogs, Hess
does custom silo filling for area
farmers. He owns his own har
vesting equipment and chops
mainly com silage crops. He also
The sows divided into groups of five to eight per pen and'
have free movement inside their 8 by 30 foot pens.
In his farrow to finish hog operation, Hess breeds his sows
to farrow every seven to eight weeks.
grows alfalfa and raises steers
which his children use as 4-H
Future goals for Bacon Acres
are to increase the herd size and to
produce barrows of the same
quality that qualified Hess’ entry
for the champion production
barrow honor awarded by the
Lancaster and Chester County
Swine Producers Association.
president; Kevin Risser,
Coudersport ED, vice president;
Jack Thomas, Ulysses, secretary
treasurer; Jay Gooch, Couder
sport ED, state director and
membership chairman; Dennis
Smoker, show' chairman; Jack
Thomas, youth chairman, Tom
Kibbe, Harrison Valley ED,
special activities chairman, and
Jay Gooch, sales chairman.
Samuel M. Crossley, county ex
tension director, was, named,
publicity chjurman and Dan
and Ivan Kibbe Jr., are atab