Burnite Mill Show Pigs
Published: October 22, 2017
The Fabi Family: John, Megan, Amanda, Jean
The American Berkshire Association (ABA) is proud to have over 750 members throughout 45 states. While the swine belt may align with the corn belt in the midwest, that isn’t to underestimate the quality of pigs that the eastern states produce. Burnite Mill Farm Show Pigs represents Delaware as being the only ABA member in the state. John, Jean, Amanda and Megan Fabi raise Berkshire hogs 40 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Their story began when Amanda was just twelve years old, and was trying to convince her dad to buy a Berkshire gilt at their local Genetic Edge Showpig Sale. “Back then no one really knew much about the Berkshires because they weren’t that popular, or attractive, at that time,” said Amanda. “That little gilt was named before I even purchased her - Marla, after the not so pretty female baseball player on A League of Their Own.”
Amanda learned how to breed Marla by watching YouTube videos during school. “I came into contact with Regina Crotty, from Oklahoma, who owned a boar that caught my eye,” said Amanda. Over the phone, Regina talked her through the process of breeding her first gilt. “To this day, I sincerely thank her for the impact she had on getting my operation started.” Marla’s first litter was sired by A Boar Named Sue.
The Berkshire breed has brought many families closer, including this one. John, Amanda’s father, plays an important role in the daily operations of their farm. “Since I was a little girl, he was always there to help me lead pigs and drive my family to shows.,” Amanda said. Jean, Amanda’s mom, is also very involved. “She is responsible for marketing and financial advertisement of our operation. She’s one of my biggest supporters.” The youngest of the Fabi clan, Megan, can also be found in the barn. “Megan is hands-down the best showman of our family and means business as soon as she hits the show ring.” Like most youngest members of swine families, Megan is the community’s go-to person when a sow needs help farrowing. Amanda plans all of Burnite Mill Farm’s breeding groups and pig sales. Once a beginner, now she’s a professional at artificially inseminating females in their herd.
So why Berkshires? When the Fabi family got started in the swine industry, they didn’t know how important the Berkshire breed was or what it had to offer. “There was something about the breed that really hit me,” said Amanda. “From the informative resources offered by the American Berkshire Association, not only was I able to learn about the unique marbling quality of Berkshire pork, but also was able to get into contact with other breeders across the country.” The Berkshire breeder community is filled with great folks who are always willing to give advice. Amanda is proud to offer a breed that can perform and compete in any 4-H or FFA crossbred market class.
You can find Burnite Mill Farm Showpigs every year at the Delaware State Fair, Maryland State Fair, and also the Team Purebred Eastern Regional. Burnite Mill Farm Show Pigs offers purebred Berkshire gilts, barrows, and boars to 4H and FFA youth farrowed in the months of January, February, and March. “Our farm has some litters that are due to farrow this January and hope to be taking them to the Shaffers Goldrush Customer Appreciation Sift and Sale in March,” said Amanda. More recently, they have started to farrow out a few crossbred litters.
If you’re interested in getting started in the swine industry, Amanda encourages you to connect with other breeders and learn through the resources provided by the ABA. “I have learned so much by networking with Berkshire breeders across the country,” said Amanda. The Fabi family have met friends throughout Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Ohio, that have become their show family. “Some of the Berkshire ‘rock stars’ who have really impacted my life are Regina Crotty, Jeff Wippel and Dave Holloway.” Amanda believes that persistence is key in being successful. “There are going to be some days where the pigs try your patience or that you did not place as high in a class as you had hoped. One of your favorite sows may have come back into heat 21 days after you bred her. Guess what? Grow from it. Pick your head up and learn from it.”
That twelve-year-old girl that purchased Marla, now has a Master’s of Science Degree in Animal Science with a focus in Swine Reproduction and Physiology. This past spring Amanda graduated from Virginia Tech and uses the knowledge that she gained at VT on her family’s farm. “Ultimately, our main farm goal is to breed show quality Berkshires for youth so that they can be competitive in the show ring, but also appreciate what the breed itself has to offer.” The Fabi family believes that the relationship with a customer doesn’t end after the pig has left the farm. They strive to be a strong support system for everyone that they meet. In the future, Burnite Mill Show Pigs plans to expand their herd and to compete in shows out west.
“We want to represent the East Coast and make those who have supported us along the way super proud.”
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