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BOLO Show Pigs sells boar for $100,000 at World Pork Expo

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 07/02/2013 11:05 AM

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LAKE CITY, Minn. — Kristin Boyum and Katie Loppnow said they can hardly believe that BOLO Show Pigs sold a Yorkshire boar at the recent World Pork Expo for $100,000.

The boar, which they named Herman, was reserve champion of the open show.

BOLO Show Pigs consists of Kristin and Kari Boyum and their parents Steve and Tracy, of Wanamingo, and Katie and Zach Loppnow and their parents Rann and Val, of Lake City.

"It just doesn't seem real," said Kristin. "Ten years ago, we didn't even know that national pig shows existed. Our whole goal was the Minnesota State Fair."

Katie describes BOLO Show pigs as "an out of control 4-H project."

"We started way back in 4-H with four little sows and Steve contacted my dad, Rann, and said he heard we were breeding our own pigs," Katie said. "Kari and Kristin were showing in the same county, and he said it would be great if we could get together. He knew guys who sold boar semen out of Iowa. We started with the goal that we wanted to get to our state fair purple ribbon auction. We just kept growing."

BOLO Show Pigs consists of 40 sows. The focus is on Yorkshires with a few crossbreeds and Durocs. Last year was the first time BOLO exhibited at World Pork Expo.

"We had some success in the junior show with a gilt placing fifth overall, and we won reserve champion bred and owned in the Yorkshire division," Katie said. "This year, we came back with a new crop, and we've been hugely blessed."

Herman was sired by Final Drive and bred to one of BOLO's Bullet Proof sows.

The judge liked the boar because he was three dimensional, structurally sound and loose-made in his movement. He also liked Herman's bone size, which is a trait the Yorkshire industry is trying to increase, Katie said.

A litter mate sister to Herman placed first in her class and sold for $5,500 to Crossroads Genetics in Clayton, Ind. All BOLO's pigs that sold at the event went to states some distance from Minnesota.

Kristin remembers when she was old enough to show at the Minnesota State Fair, and her pig, which she bought from a commercial pig farm, got a red ribbon at the county fair.

"I didn't even qualify for state fair,"Kristin said. "That was the driving force. I wanted to do well. We started buying show pigs, and we fell in love with it."

From there the Boyums and the Loppnows, both farm families, joined forces.

"It snowballed into the business we have today," Katie said.

Katie said that her family was building a 160-sow commercial operation back in the late 1990s when the market crashed.

"We had to sell everything," Katie said. "When Zach and I got to 4-H age, we started buying pigs at the local sale barn and taking them to the fair, but we realized we had the facilities, and we could breed higher quality genetics that would get to the state fair. I remember the first time I had a barrow do well at the Minnesota State Fair. I was there when he was born, he came from our farm and our sow line. That feeling never changes as a breeder, knowing you've been there every step of the way."

Zach will begin vet school this fall at the University of Minnesota. He wants to be a large animal veterinarian. Katie is senior biology major at the U of M with plans to go to medical school. Kari is an apparel merchandising major at Iowa State University. Kristin, a graduate of St. Olaf College, is a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Kristin and Katie describe Zach as the heavy lifter, being the only son in the operation. He enjoys being involved in herd health because of his veterinary tendencies.Katie always does her best to get home for farrowing season. Kari is the pigs' "personal trainer." She takes them for daily walks and works with Steve and Rann in figuring out feed rations and recipes.

Having a top-selling boar at World Pork Expo won't change BOLO's long-term goals.

"We will still strive for improving the Yorkshire breed and bringing quality Yorkshires to national shows and competing on the national level," Kristin said.