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Animal Sciences Department

Animal Sciences Department

Florida Hog & Ham Program

Prerequisite Workshop: February 19, 2024 - Virtual
Harvesting Week:
August 6-8, 2023
UF Meats Processing Center, Gainesville

The Florida 4-H Hog and Ham Program is a statewide 4-H program which takes the participant through the total process of pork production from beginning to end. Youth select a feeder pig and grow it to harvesting weight, all the while keeping records on feed amounts and costs, health care, expenses, weights, etc. After harvesting the hog and processing it into wholesale or retail cuts, 4-H'ers cure the hams and prepare bacon and sausage for smoking. The project concludes by participating in a retail comparison project, completing a record book, and presenting a demonstration or illustrated talk to the other participants.

Enrollment in Hog & Ham is limited to a maximum of 30 4-H members (12 & over as of 9/1 of 4-H year). The number of youth per county will be determined by the number of counties participating. The complete program procedures and schedule are in the drop-downs below.


  • Hog & Ham Workshop (Virtual) *Required

    February 19, 2024, 6-8 PM
    Virtual Event


    Register on 4-H Online
    Registration deadline is Friday, February 16, 2024

    To familiarize everyone with the Hog & Ham program and provide them with the background information needed for success, a workshop will be conducted before the beginning of the program. This free virtual workshop is a requirement for 4-H youth who wish to participate in the 4-H Hog and Ham project for the first time or have not participated in the 2023 project. However, those who have completed recent H&H program are still welcome and encouraged to attend.

    Students who have conflicts and cannot attend should email Chad Carr at and a recording of the training and a post-test will be provided, which will meet the workshop requirement.

    After the 4-Her has completed this workshop they will be eligible to apply for a spot in the project; which is limited to 30 participants.

    Participation is open to youth (12 and older as of 9-1-22), parents, leaders, and agents. Please note that attending the workshop does not commit a youth to participating in Hog & Ham. However, a youth must have attended the Workshop to apply for the program.

    The workshop is scheduled as an evening, virtual program, 6-8 pm. Topics include an overview of the swine industry, sources and selection of feeder pigs, feeding & health management, the pork product, and insight into the other phases of the program (record book, demonstration, etc). The Hog & Ham Program has 3 phases -- (1) selecting and raising, (2) slaughtering and processing, and (3) record book, a retail & foodservice audit, and presentation.

    All prospective attendees should register for the Workshop on 4-H Online by February 16.

  • Hog & Ham Schedule

    2024 Hog & Ham Schedule

    February 16 - Registration deadline for registering for Workshop on 4-H Online.

    February 19 - Virtual orientation workshop, required for all participants (except those who completed all of the 2023 program).

    March 4- ALL potential participants are required to complete an online quiz, application, and YQCA Certification by this date. (Quiz link is emailed after Orientation)

    March 13- Agents notified as to participants selected.

    March 20 - Email Dr. Carr if you were accepted into the program, but do not want to or cannot complete the project.  

    April 1 - $125.00 registration fee due. Pay on the Eventbrite link (given at Workshop), or check made to "Florida 4-H Foundation," and sent to Chad Carr, 2250 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611

    April 27 - UF Pig Selection Day.

    April 26 - April 29 - Beginning weigh-in on reliable scales in the county (pig should weigh at least 60 lbs); take beginning photo of pig.

    April 29- email with names of participants completing weigh-in, date, and weight of pig.

    April 30 - August 5 - Feeding period; complete Retail Audit and maintain Record Book

    August 6, Tuesday - Deliver hogs to UF Meats Lab and harvest hogs. 

    August 7, Wednesday - Process carcasses at UF, distant counties.

    August 8, Thursday - Process carcasses at UF, nearby counties.

    By Monday, August 19 @ 5 pm - All Project Books, food service and Retail Audits, and copies of thank you letters should be approved by county 4-H faculty, scanned and emailed to Chad Carr. Original hard copies of thank you notes should be sent via US mail to recipients.

    August 24 - Demonstration Day at the University of Florida; awards presentation. Pick up cured hams, bellies, and smoked sausage links.

  • Hog & Ham Guidelines and Procedures

    Hog & Ham Guidelines and Procedures - 2024

    1. All new participants are required to have attended the February 19 workshop to apply to be in the Hog & Ham program.  Youth who completed all phases of the 2022 program (harvested a hog, retail audit, project book, demonstration) are not required to attend the Workshop (see Workshop information in the above drop-down).
    2. Enrollment is limited to 30 youths. Because this is a one-youth-per-one-pig project, there will be no team- or group-raised pigs.
    3. Participation will be limited to 4-H members who have reached 12 years of age before September 1, 2023. Agents should evaluate the maturity level of 4-H'ers and use discretion in approving enrollment. If application numbers are high, priority may be given to older 4-H'ers.
    4. We will review the applications and notify agents by March 13 of who has been selected. Youth who participated in the past and dropped out without completing every phase of the program might not be allowed to participate the following year.
    5. If youth were accepted into the program, but do not want to or cannot complete the project, email Chad Carr by March 20 so another participant can take the spot.
    6. The $125.00 registration fee is due by April 1. Online payment can be made on Eventbrite (link given at or after Workshop), or with a check made payable to the Florida 4-H Foundation.
      • Checks be sent to Chad Carr at the UF Animal Sciences to arrive by April 1. Registration fees received late are subject to additional fees. Mail to:
        Chad Carr
        UF Animal Sciences
        PO Box 110910
        Gainesville, FL 32611
      • After the weigh-in is completed, the initial registration fee and any applicable late fee are still due even if a youth cannot bring a hog to harvesting week (pig dies, family conflict, etc.).
    7. Youth selected to participate should select pigs that should weigh about 100 at the time of the weigh-in weekend (at least 60 lb at minimum). Pigs should be weighed in over the week of April 26 - April 29.
    8. Youth may elect to attend the UF Pig Selection Day on Saturday, April 27.  At that time youth will draw for an order to select pigs to purchase from UF.  If youth are interested in attending this selection day, be sure to indicate such on the application form so enough pigs will be available.  This is not a required portion of the program.
    9. All participants who bought a non-UF hog should email Dr. Carr,, the weight of the pig and weight date by 5:00 PM on April 29. 
    10. If less than 30 total participants have been weighed in as of 5:00 p.m. on April 29, we will notify additional participants of their eligibility. Confirmation and weigh-in of additional participants must be complete by Monday, May 6.
    11. During the growing period, feel free to contact Dr. Carr with questions concerning the health and growth of project pigs.
    12. Each 4-H member will be responsible for the following:
      • Producing a market hog weighing over 240 pounds (target is industry average of 260#) from a starting weight of 100 to 120 lbs.
      • Harvesting hog, processing carcass, and wrapping final retail cuts.
      • Participating in a retail/restaurant audit.
      • Completing a Project Book
      • Preparing and presenting a PowerPoint demonstration or illustrated talk.
    13. The Project Books and Retail Audit forms for 2024 are available via the right column of this web page.
    14. During the feeding/growing period, participants will complete a retail audit during which they will compare pork products at different types of grocery stores and restaurants. More details are given at the workshop.
    15. Hogs will be harvested at the University of Florida Meats Lab on Tuesday, August 6.  Carcasses will be cut up on August 7 and 8. Details for the processing days will be shared as the time approaches.  Participants may bring Retail Audit forms to harvesting for informal review and feedback (note that retail audits are not due for scoring until Project Books are due).  If there are less than 20 participants, all carcasses will likely be processed on August 6.
    16. The final weight does NOT have to be measured before harvesting. The carcass weight will be measured using calibrated scales in Gainesville and participants will calculate the final weight using a standard dressing percentage. If the live weight is being monitored during the growing period, the target live weight is 260 lbs.
    17. Pigs with carcass weight less than 165 lbs. will receive significantly less points for carcass score. (A 165# carcass weight corresponds to ~230# live weight.) Participants are expected to complete all segments of the project regardless of carcass score.
    18. If the hog carcass is condemned, the 4-H member will forfeit the carcass portion of the project and be ineligible for overall awards. However, the 4-H'er should still complete the project book and retail audit and prepare a demonstration/illustrated talk.
    19. All hams, bellies, and sausage links will be left at UF for smoking.
    20. Completed project books and retail audits should be checked and signed by the Extension Agent or 4-H coordinator. Approved project books and retail audits should be scanned and emailed to Chad Carr ( by August 19 @ 5 pm.
    21. Each 4-H member must write and mail a thank you letter in his/her own handwriting to all donors. A list of donors will be provided at harvest. It is the responsibility of the Extension Agent to ensure these notes are written and sent. Copies of the thank you notes should be included with the emailed audits and project books mentioned previously.
    22. A demonstration or illustrated talk involving some aspect of this project or pork production will be required of each 4-H member and will be given on August 26. Youth should use PowerPoint for any visuals as opposed to posters. Demonstrations by Intermediates (12 and 13 as of September 1, 2023) should be 3-12 minutes, and those by Seniors (14 and over as of September 1, 2023) should be 5-12 minutes. Individual participants may pair up to give a team demonstration.
    23. Hams, bellies, and sausage that were left in Gainesville for smoking will also be picked up on demonstration day, August 24.
    24. Bellies will be returned whole. There will likely be an option to have them sliced for a specified cost per side.
    25. The 4-H members and their Extension agents or designated leaders are encouraged to be present at the Demonstration portion of the program on August 24.
    26. Assisting with all phases of the Hog & Ham program will be the responsibility of all agents, 4-H coordinators, designated leaders, and extension specialists involved in this program.
    27. Premium money or special awards will be given to the top 3 overall placings if money is available. Agents and volunteers are encouraged to solicit donations for premium money, awards, trophies, and project funding.
    28. Each County Extension agent and 4-H coordinator or designated leader involved in this program will be expected to help in some capacity.
    29. University Meat Laboratory management or Extension Specialists will not be responsible for theft, damage, or other losses of pork cuts in cure.
    30. The University of Florida Extension Specialists or University Meat Laboratory management will not be held liable for Accidents or Injury to parents, leaders, 4-H members, and Extension agents (and 4-H coordinators) while they are in the meat laboratory. Members are covered by 4-H insurance.
    31. For those counties west of the Suwannee River, it will be necessary to come through the Agricultural Inspection Station. To avoid problems, you will need to provide proof of ownership of the pigs and a valid Florida Drivers License (Driver - for Proof of Intrastate transport). Indicate that your destination is the University of Florida for slaughter. Health papers or transportation permits are not required for transport within the state.
  • Hog & Ham Processing Week

    August 6-8, 2024, Tuesday-Thursday
    UF Meats Processing Center, Gainesville

    Harvesting week days & times might be adjusted based on the number of participants. Any changes will be posted here as they are confirmed.

    All Hog & Ham participants will be coming to Gainesville on August 6 for the harvesting portion of the project. All hogs will be harvested at the Meat Lab adjacent to the Animal Sciences Building on Shealy Drive, off of SW 16th Avenue. All participants should plan to arrive at 9:00 am, and harvesting will begin at 10:00 am. The final weight of the hogs does not need to be measured in the county. Participants should wear appropriate clothes for working in the Meat Lab and expect to get them dirty. It will be very hot on harvesting day and very cool on processing day. Hard hats will be provided for the participants, but others entering the Meat Lab must bring head cover or wear a supplied hair net. Youth will be finished by 1-2 pm or likely earlier on harvesting day.

    If youth want to receive feedback on the Retail Audits, bring them with you to harvesting. You will still take the Audits home again before they are due later with the record books.

    The alternating cutting & wrapping days are August 7 (distant counties) and 8 (nearby counties). Participants should meet in room 156 at 8:00 am on their respective days. Please remember to bring warm clothes for working in the 40-degree coolers on the cutting day. Even the classroom will be cooled to 68 degrees for cutting and wrapping. Also, you will want to bring a 48-quart cooler (or two smaller coolers) to take home two loins and two boston butts for each hog. This is more of a full day with a break for lunch (on your own) and finishing mid-afternoon.

    Gaiesville hotels - a list of many of the local hotels.
    Hotels with IFAS rates - these have ongoing special rates contracted for IFAS events.

    Hog & Ham Dress Codes

    There are strict procedures with the U.S.D.A. inspection system for meat processing plants. Even though we are an educational facility, we still fall under these stringent regulations. Furthermore, we wholeheartedly believe that these rules will help ensure the consumer of safer foods.

    Dress code and procedures that must be followed by participants as well as advisors, parents, and leaders:

    1. Hard hats, hair nets, shirts with sleeves, closed-toe shoes, and long pants will be worn by participants in all processing areas. No bump caps or cloth caps are allowed. Clothing and shoes must be clean.
    2. Parents, leaders, and those observing participants fabricate carcasses and process cuts will not be required to wear hard hats, but all other dress requirements will need to be met.
    3. Hair nets will be worn if hair is collar length or longer.
    4. No jewelry will be allowed in processing areas. This includes rings, earrings, and necklaces.
    5. No food, gum, drinks, or tobacco products will be allowed in the Meat Processing Center.
    6. Glass items will not be brought into processing areas.
    7. Hands will be washed with antimicrobial soap before entering the processing area.
    8. Since the carcasses are not processed under normal HACCP regulations, the meat will be labeled "not for sale".
  • Demonstration Day Schedule

    Hog & Ham Demonstrations

    August 24, 2024, Saturday, time TBA
    UF Animal Sciences Rm 156
    2250 Shealy Dr.
    Gainesville, FL

    The demonstration/illustrated talk portion of Hog & Ham is on Saturday, August 24. We will begin check-in at (TBA) in Room 156 and the talks will begin at (TBA). There will be a lunch break ~noon if needed and awards will be presented after the presentations when final scores are calculated. On average, a new talk begins every 10 minutes. Plan to arrive ahead of schedule in case we move along more quickly than expected, then plan to stay for the rest of the talks. 

    Demonstrations should follow the format for those given at district and state events, 3-12 minutes for intermediates, and 5-12 minutes for seniors. Intermediates are 13 and under as of September 1, of the previous year, and seniors are 14 and over on that date. Refer to the demonstration scoresheet to see an explanation of the judging points. Any text/note type visuals need to be in a PowerPoint presentation (as opposed to posters, overheads, etc.).

    Computer and projection equipment will be provided, as well as tables for other visuals or work areas. Anything else needed must be brought by the participant. PowerPoint presentations should be emailed to Chad Carr (, by Thursday night Aug. 22) so they can be loaded on our network to confirm compatibility and functionality. The classroom has the most recent PowerPoint so presentations created by any version should all work.

    After the event, contestants will be able to take home their bacon, sausage, and hams that were left behind for curing. They should bring a 96-quart cooler (or its equivalent in smaller coolers) to carry the meat home. Coolers can be brought into room 156’s walk-in cooler before the demonstrations begin or during any break.