There was a time where the hog carcass competition during hog and poultry days alternating between Brandon and Winnipeg, wasn’t nearly as important to the industry and the winners as in later years.
In 2014, changing it from Hog and Poultry Days to the Prairie Livestock Expo, and a brand new venue saw thousands of farmers and suppliers take in the one-day expo and exhibitions and fill up the hall for the announcement of the carcass winners
Aspenheim Colony of Bagot, MB claimed the top award at the 2014 Pork Quality Competition held in conjunction with PLE in Winnipeg on Dec 10, 2014 which attracted 37 entries from farms across the province.
The event, in support of local, national and international charities chosen by the winners and local food banks, brings together pork producers to showcase their products.2-#2 Wellwood 3-#1 Aspenheim 2014-12-10 07.40.21 2014-12-10 07.40.47
As mentioned, top honours went to Aspenheim Colony Farms at Bagot, Wellwood Colony Farms of Ninette received the reserve champion carcass prize, and Glenway Colony Farms of Dominion City claimed third.
Jason Care, the manager-auditor of Manitoba Hog Grading and one of the event judges, said they’ve designed the criteria for the competition to reflect what the processors are looking for. That is why the competition is so important to the producers and to the industry as a whole.
“A lot of those who enter into the competition ship to the processors, whether it’s Maple Leaf or Hylife or the other provincial abattoirs,” says Care. “They set up this competition to sort of mock what they would call the best pork marketable in Manitoba so the guidelines are set to follow it on that basis. It’s a judging of the loin, the backfat, the belly, the color of it, so it’s all levels that they set the criteria at and that’s what we move forward with.”
He says the biggest one is usually the loin, basing it out of a loin, marbling because it’s not very common to have a lot of marbling in pork.
“In this competition when you look at these loins you see this increased marbling and that comes down to the genetics that we have here in Manitoba which the processors are really looking forward to,” Care adds.
The hog competition judge says all of the pork, a total of 9,000 pounds, the producers donate to local food banks and just over $21,000 in prize money, charities chosen by the winners share.
Kenny Kleinsasser, the hog boss on the Aspenheim Colony and holder of last year’s grand champion carcass says it is a big thing in and for the hog industry and a win win for the industry because all the money and the carcasses go to charity.
“It is just a great feeling to be able to win the number one carcass – it is almost indescribable,” says Kleinsasser who runs a 500 sow, farrow to finish operation. “We ship about 14,000 pigs a year to Maple Leaf Foods at Brandon using Danbred DNA Genetics.”
Kleinsasser said there isn’t much extra preparation that goes into entering this competition.
“Not much really. We did a little bit of scaling, and a little bit of sorting to make sure our weight was right,” said the hog boss. “Then selected ten pigs and bring that number down to two for slaughter to enter those carcasses in the competition.”
He says it took about an hour, but as a total team effort and everybody chipped in a little bit.
Dennis Stevenson, a territory sales manager with Zoetis and a member of the Prairie Livestock Expo organizing committee, said the 37 entries were judged according to criteria used for grading at Manitoba’s pork processing plants and the top 10 were displayed well at the event.
“The majority of the 37 entrants come from the colony farms,” says Stevenson. “One of the great things about this competition is it’s sponsored by many people across the province of Manitoba and some of these companies are national like Zoetis where the sponsorship is brought in.”
All of the entrants fill out a form and they choose a charity to donate their winnings to. Along with all the meat which goes to Winnipeg Harvest or Siloam Mission or any of those types of things to feed the needy at Christmas,” he adds.
Since the introduced the Pork Quality Competition in 1996, producers have donated more than $345,000 to international, national, rural and urban charities and more than 47,000 kilograms of pork to Manitoba food banks, just in time for the Christmas holidays giving many excellent protein which they normally wouldn’t get.  •
— By Harry Siemens