Miller represents Wyo, excels at World Pork Expo
Torrington – On June 8, 16-year-old Paige Miller, daughter of Paul and Christine Miller, of Torrington made history for Wyoming youth as she won Overall Champion Barrow at the 2017 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.
“The first time I showed livestock, I was four years old, and I’ve been showing since then,” says Miller, noting she began showing hogs and cattle, which are the species she shows now, at eight years of age.
Showing livestock is a family tradition for the Miller family, she explains.
“My dad grew up showing Charolais cattle, and my brothers wanted to follow in his footsteps when they started their careers. I followed through after them,” she comments.
As part of their family tradition, the Millers own and operate their family cattle ranch.
“I grew up on our family’s cattle ranch, the M Lazy Heart Ranch, where we raise and sell club calves,” explains Miller.
Preparing for show
Miller typically purchases her show hogs from family friend Ricky Rosenbaum of Omaha, Neb.
After she brings the animals back to the family ranch, she immediately begins their rigorous training and feeding program.
“We try to feed and train them very consistently over the period of time that we have them, so they’ll be able to drive and look right when we show,” says Miller.
When selecting her show hogs, Miller takes a combination of characteristics into consideration.
“My most favorite thing in the hogs that I’m looking for is a combination of balance, structure, power and design,” she continues.
While she does her best to select animals that are most similar to the ideal, Miller notes there are no perfect animals, and feeding makes a significant difference in the appearance of hogs.
“Because there are no perfect animals, we have to try and feed them all year, and especially in hogs, feeding really does make a difference,” Miller comments. “I would like to commend my dad because he’s so knowledgeable about feeding the show hogs, tries so hard and is so helpful. He always has been supportive of my brothers and myself.”
Rewards and challenges
“One of my favorite parts of showing hogs is the connections we make going around the country meeting all of the different people and being able to create those lifelong connections and friendships we can’t get anywhere else,” says Miller.
She notes, however, that showmen also need to be prepared to face adversity, as well.
“It’s hard to get up the next morning and keep working on my animals again when I get down, but I have to overcome those adversities and keep moving in my show career to be successful in the end,” Miller comments.
After overcoming challenges she faced last year, Miller reflects that her most rewarding show experience was the 2017 World Pork Expo, where she earned Overall Champion Barrow with her Chester White named Chowder.
“I wanted to come back this year and overcome the challenges I faced. All of that hard work I’ve been putting in over the years finally paid off, and everything came together,” she comments.
“The most important thing I’ve learned throughout my show career is the value of dedication and hard work,” Miller states. “I can probably say that’s finally coming forward with me, and my brothers and family have helped me to learn that over the years.”
On the road
“My dad always says, ‘You can sleep when you’re dead,’” laughs Miller.
Every year, Miller attends multiple international cattle and hog shows, as well as regional and state events.
“I’m on the road often in the springtime due to the fact that I take part in the Colorado Jackpot circuit, and I often travel to Indiana and Iowa to take my Expo and State Fair hogs and get them out before the summertime,” she comments, noting her fall season will be busier than in the past, as she begins attending more major junior shows.
Miller continues, “Honestly, in the summer, I’m not sleeping in my own bed more than I am sleeping in my own bed.”
In addition to her rigorous show schedule, Miller is also actively involved in her local 4-H club and FFA chapter.
“Our livestock judging team is going to go to nationals this fall for FFA,” she says.
Miller also plays volleyball for her high school, as well as playing for the Eastern Elite Club in Goshen County.
As Miller looks to the future, she looks forward to finishing her high school education and finishing her junior show career.
“We might extend that as long as possible, since I’m the last kid in my family,” Miller says.
After high school, Miller plans to participate on a collegiate livestock judging team and then attend a four-year university to pursue a degree in animal and veterinary science.
“Following that, I would like to go to vet school one day and specialize in embryology,” concludes Miller.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.