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Florida Hog & Ham Program

Prerequisite Workshop: February 22, 2021 - Virtual - Register here, by noon, 2/19
Harvesting Week:
August 10-12
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. The number of youth per county will be determined by the number of counties participating. The complete program procedures and schedule are emailed to agents in the winter and can also be found on this site.

  • Hog & Ham Workshop - Virtual/Required

    February 22, 2021, 4-8pm
    Virtual Event

    Click here to register, via UF Extension Courses
    Registration deadline is 12:00 noon, Friday, February 19

    In an effort 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 4H youth that wish to participate in the 4H Hog and Ham project for the first time or have not participated in the 2019 or 2020 project. However, those who have completed recent H&H programs are still welcome and encouraged to attend.

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

    After the 4Her 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 9-1-20), parents, leaders, and  agents. Please note that attending the workshop does not commit a youth to participating in Hog & Ham. But a youth must have attended the Workshop to apply for the program.

    The workshop is scheduled to be a full evening program, 4-8pm. Topics include an overview of the swine industry, sources and selection of feeder pigs, feeding & health management, the pork product, and insight on 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 by noon, Feb. 19.

  • 2021 Hog & Ham Schedule

    2021 Hog & Ham Schedule

    February 22 - Workshop in Gainesville, required for all participants (except those who completed all of 2019 or 2020 program).

    March 26 Applications for participation due.

    March 31- Agents notified as to participants selected.

    April 9 email Dr. Carr if you were accepted into the program, but do not want to or cannot complete the project.  

    May 1 - UF Pig Selection Day.

    April 24 - May 1 - Beginning weigh-in on reliable scales in County; take beginning photo of pig.

    by May 3- email with names of participants completing weigh-in. Include weigh-in date and weight of pig.

    May 24 - $70.00 registration fee made to Florida 4-H Foundation due to Chad Carr, 2250 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32608

    May 3 - August 9 - Feeding period; complete Retail Audit and maintain Record Book

    August 10, Tuesday - Deliver hogs to UF Meats Lab and harvest hogs. - Optionally bring Retail Audit for review.

    August 11, Wednesday - Process carcasses at UF, distant counties.

    August 12, Thursday - Process carcasses at UF, nearby counties.

    (Details of processing days will be specified at or after the Workshop in January. If there are less than 20 participants, all carcasses will likely be processed on August 11.)

    Before Sept. 3 - Project Books and Retail Audits with copies of thank you letters should be approved by 4-H office personnel.

    September 3 - All Project Books and Retail Audits due to Chad Carr, University of Florida.

    September 11 - Demonstration Day at University of Florida; awards presentation. Pick up cured hams, bellies, and smoked sausage links.

  • Hog & Ham Guidelines and Procedures

    Hog & Ham Guidelines and Procedures - 2021

    1. All new participants are required to have attended the February 22 workshop in order to apply to be in the Hog & Ham program.  Youth who completed all four phases of the 2019 or 2020 program (harvested a hog, retail audit, project book, demonstration) are not required to attend the Workshop (see Workshop information).
    2. Enrollment is limited to 30 youth. 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 that have reached 12 years of age prior to September 1, 2020. 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. County Agents must fill out a Hog & Ham participant application form and mail or fax it so that it is received by Friday, March 26 (fax # is 352-392-9059). We will review the applications and notify agents by Wednesday, March 31 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. Youth selected to participate should select pigs which should weigh about 100 to 120 lbs at the time of weigh-in weekend. Pigs should be weighed-in over the week of April 24 through May 1.
    6. Youth may elect to attend the UF Pig Selection Day on Saturday, May 1.  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.
    7. All participants who bought a non-UF hog should email Dr. Carr,, the weight of the pig and weight date by Monday, May 3. 
    8. If less than 30 total participants have been weighed in as of 5:00 p.m. on May 3, we will notify additional participants of their eligibility. Confirmation and weigh in of additional participants must be complete by Monday, May 10.
    9. The $70.00 registration fee is due after the initial hog weigh in and should be given to the county 4-H or Livestock Agent in charge. Checks should be made payable to the Florida 4-H Foundation.
    10. Registration fees should be sent to Chad Carr at the UF Animal Sciences to arrive by May 24. Registration fees received late are subject to additional fees. Mail to:
      Chad Carr
      UF Animal Sciences
      PO Box 110910
      Gainesville, FL 32608
    11. Registration fees that will arrive more than one week late (May 31 or later) will require a $15 late fee. An additional $15 will be due for each month passed ($30 if received after June 30, and $45 if received after July 31). 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.).
    12. During the growing period, feel free to contact Dr. Carr with questions concerning health and growth of project pigs.
    13. 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 Power Point demonstration or illustrated talk.
    14. The Project Books and Retail Audit forms for 2021 are available via the right column of this web page.
    15. 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.
    16. Hogs will be harvested at the University of Florida Meats Lab on Tuesday, August 10.  Carcasses will be cut up on August 11 and 12. 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 Retails 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 11.
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
    20. All hams, bellies, and sausage links will be left at UF for smoking.
    21. Completed project books and retail audits should be checked and signed by the Extension Agent or 4-H coordinator before mailing to arrive to Chad Carr at UF by September 3.
    22. 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.
    23. 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 September 11. Youth should use Power Point for any visuals as opposed to posters. Demonstrations by Intermediates (12 and 13 as of September 1, 2020) should be 3-12 minutes, and those by Seniors (14 and over as of September 1, 2020) should be 5-12 minutes. Individual participants may pair up to give a team demonstration.
    24. Hams, bellies, and sausage that were left in Gainesville for smoking will also be picked up on demonstration day, September 11.
    25. Bellies will be returned whole. There will likely be an option to have them sliced for a specified cost per side.
    26. The 4-H members and their Extension agents or designated leaders are encouraged to be present at the Demonstration portion of the program on September 11.
    27. 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.
    28. 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.
    29. Trophies or plaques will be given to the Champion and Reserve Champion. Ribbons will be given to those placing 3 - 10. The remaining placings will be on the modified Danish System of Blue, Red and White ribbons.
    30. Each County Extension agent and 4-H coordinator or designated leader involved in this program will be expected to help in some capacity.
    31. University Meat Laboratory management or Extension Specialists will not be responsible for theft, damage, or other losses of pork cuts in cure.
    32. 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.
    33. For those counties west of the Suwannee River, it will be necessary to come through the Agricultural Inspection Station. In order to avoid problems, you will need to provide proof of ownership for 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 18-20, 2020
    UF Meats Processing Center, Gainesville

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

    All Hog & Ham participants will be coming to Gainesville, August 18 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 9:00a.m., and harvesting will begin at 10:00am. 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 19 (distant counties) and 20 (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 whole heartily believe that these rules will help ensure the consumer of safer foods.

    Following is the 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, ear rings, 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

    Sept. 12, 2020, Saturday, 10:00am
    UF Animal Sciences Rm 156
    2250 Shealy Dr.
    Gainesville, FL

    This page contains typical plans for Demonstration Day. Specific details may be discussed and amended during the Harvesting week. If that is the case, they will be updated here is well.

    The demonstration/illustrated talk portion of Hog & Ham is on Saturday, Sept. 12. We will begin check-in at 9:30 a.m. in Room 156 and the talks will begin at 10:00 a.m. There will be a lunch break ~noon 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. You will notice that those traveling from farther away are scheduled later so not everyone needs to arrive by 9:30am.

    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, 2019, 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 Power Point presentation (as opposed to posters, overheads, etc.).

    Computer and projection equipment will be provided, as well as tables for other visuals or work area. Anything else needed must be brought by the participant. PowerPoint presentations should be emailed to Chad Carr ( by Thursday night Sept. 10) 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.

    At the completion of 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.