From Trust To Training


Brandon Herzog has gained his pig, Jolene’s trust over the past two months and is making preparations for their next competition on February 8th.

While some people have a hard time building trust with other humans, Brandon Herzog has had to gain his pig’s trust as they prepare for competitions with Future Farmers of America (FFA).

On October 22nd, senior Brandon Herzog went to Thackerville, Oklahoma to pick up his pig, Jolene.

“When I got Jolene, I had to put her in the trailer and pigs don’t like being picked up. So when we got here she didn’t trust me very much,” Herzog said.

“If you’re fulfilling its needs, food, water, shelter, clean place to be, it’s gonna trust you as an animal,” Clayton Harrison, the Swine Species Sponsor for FFA said.

Once Herzog gained Jolene’s trust, he could begin training.

“Training a pig is a challenge. All the other species have some sort of leash, or halter, or collar, or are controlled with your hands. A pig, you’re given what’s called a pig whip. So you walk beside the pig, and you use the whip to guide it by popping it in the face,” Harrison said.

“If I tap her on the left close to her ear, I’m trying to get her to go right. If I’m tapping her on the right side I’m trying to get her to go left. If I just need her to move a little faster I’ll tap her on her flanks or her belly. Then if you need them to stop you tap them on their nose,” Herzog said.

Although Jolene knows what each command means, she doesn’t always listen.

“She’s kinda like a dog, so I’ll walk her outside and she’ll chase cars up and down the streets. And it’s kind of hard to get her to actually listen while training,” Herzog said.

For every problem, there is always a solution.

“I’ve started walking her just inside for a while because she gets less distracted. And then I take her outside normally on the weekends, so maybe once or twice a week and trying to get her used to different environments,” Herzog said.

Brandon and Jolene will compete in three competitions this year: the Collin County Junior Livestock Show on January 9th, in San Antonio on February 8th, and in Houston on March 1st and 2nd.