At 18 years old, Rachelle Moore is a businesswoman.
In fact, Moore is so good at what she does that she has been recognized for her entrepreneurial skills, taking first place in the agri-entrepreneurship swine production category at the Colorado State FFA Convention, held July 8-10, in Craig, and earning the right to compete at the National FFA Convention on Oct. 20-23 in Indianapolis.
A 2010 graduate of Montezuma-Cortez High School, Moores chosen area of expertise is feeder pigs, which weigh 60 to 80 pounds and are 6 to 8 weeks old.
For the last four years, the 4-H and FFA member has purchased an increasing number of the animals. Moore has fed her pigs, raised them, showed many of them at the Montezuma County Fair and sold them. The teen has earned herself a nice nest egg in the process.
Moores interest in swine began years ago in an effort to follow the steps of her older siblings.
Ive been raising pigs since I was 8, she said. This is my 10th year having pigs and 10th year showing at the Montezuma County Fair. My family had been doing it ever since I was little, and I wanted to be just like my brothers and sisters. I wanted to show pigs just like they did.
Once she entered high school, Moore decided she wanted to do more than simply raise show pigs.
Through FFA we have a Supervised Agricultural Experience project, and I knew I wanted to do pigs, she said. I also knew I wanted to do more than just two because I couldnt compete at the state level with just two.
Moores ultimate ambition was to place in the Gold category at the state convention, the highest awards category at the competition. She knew that in order to reach that goal, she needed to create an ambitious project.
I really wanted to get into that Gold category, Moore said. I kept on striving toward that goal, and I knew I needed a really strong project and a really strong business to do that, so every year I bought more pigs than I did the year before.
Beginning her operation four years ago with five feeder pigs, Moore slowly built her business, purchasing 12 in 2008, 18 in 2009 and 25 this spring. The pigs typically weigh close to 40 pounds when Moore purchases them. They are sold at 280 pounds.
To keep her operation within the project parameters, Moore has kept detailed records of each step along the way in raising her pigs.
She also has mastered the fine art of mixing her own rations for her animals in an effort to give them the specific nutrition necessary to facilitate ideal growth.
I feed show feed for my show pigs, and I always feed a mixed feed from a local feed store, but I also mix my own ration and feed that to the feeder pigs, Moore said. There are different varieties because each pig needs a different diet. It is a challenge to come up with your own ration.
In addition to raising the feeder pigs, Moore selects a few pigs each year as show pigs, which adds an extra level of responsibility.
The pigs are selected based on gait and build. Moore constantly works with her show pigs to ensure they are ready for the fair.
I walk my show pigs twice a day so they are ready, she said. They also have to have enough muscle, and I have to adjust their feed and groom them if a show is coming up.
Moore, who spends the majority of her days with the pigs, plans to show three pigs at the local fair this year. She also hopes to show two at the state fair.
To maintain her project requires plenty of work, and Moore has benefited from the effort.
Last year at fair I made $1,090, she said. That is what really helps my project, showing and selling at fair. I have earned a little over $7,000 overall and put it in an account toward college. This project will help me a lot with my expenses at college.
Moore plans to attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling in the fall, majoring in agricultural business and agricultural education.
She hopes to return to the Cortez area one day as an ag teacher.