Summer-Like Heat, Lines Claim Life Of Show Pig At Tulsa State Fair
TULSA, Oklahoma - The summer-like weather was hard on some livestock at the Tulsa State Fair; at least one show pig died due to the heat.
There are at least 1,000 hogs at the fair for the junior division swine shows. A vet has to check out each pig before it can come into the barn, and Monday, that timely process caused long lines.
Showing livestock is not only a commitment, but it can also cost thousands of dollars to raise the animals. So you can imagine the care the FFA students gave when the temperature started rising.
It was bumper-to-bumper traffic Monday as trailers loaded with livestock sat at a standstill for up to three hours waiting to check in to the Tulsa State Fair.
The scorching September sun made the day feel more like the middle of summer.
Smithville Agricultural Teacher, Jacob Lundry said, “On top of pavement it gets hot real quick. It's probably 115 degrees in those trailers a lot of times.”
So the Smithville agricultural students spent part of their afternoon in the trailer with bags of ice and spray bottles full of cold water to keep their pigs comfortable.
“Pigs do not sweat. The only way you can keep them cool is with water,” said Lundry.
That method didn't work for nine-year-old Reece Hightower's first show hog, Kevin.
Reece's mom and dad said they did everything they could to make sure their son's pig didn't overheat, but said the stress and long wait was more than the hog could handle.
“She got back in and said, 'Well, I've got some terrible news for ya, your pig died,” said Reece.
“He's lost a $500 pig and I've sunk $1,500 worth of feed in him this summer,” Paul Hightower said.
The fair said changes to this year's show dates put them behind.
They spent the night tearing down horse stalls, then building pig pens in the same arena Monday morning, which caused the long lines.
OK Pork Council Executive Director, Roy Lee Lindsey said, “We've tried to do everything within our control and unfortunately Mother Nature's not something we can control, and if heat's the cause here, it's really just something that's outside our control.”
While it's a tough life lesson for Reece, he said he'll be back in the arena next year.
“There'll be more pigs,” he said.
Parents said they hope the fair will open the pig barn earlier next year so even if there is a wait, it will be in the morning when it's cooler.
Livestock show organizers say they're always looking for new ways to make the events run more fluidly.