Tiny trotters bring home the bacon for charity
WHILE sausages and bacon were being fried up on the barbecue at Sunday's annual Thoroughbred Pig Racing event at Iluka Bowls Club, the origin of such smallgoods were being assembled nearby ready to make their debut as racing progeny.
Seemingly oblivious to their sizzling surrounds, and what may lie ahead once their sporting careers are over, the posse of piggies from Noah's Thoroughbred Pig Races were all raring to go.
Decked out in bright sequinned bibs to differentiate the competitors, these maiden runners were there to compete in name of charity.
Organised by the Iluka Woombah Rotary Club, the Family Fun Day this year will benefit another five charitable organisations: Variety Children's Charity; Camp Quality; Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund; Our Kids at Northern Rivers Association and the Children's Epilepsy Association.
Rotarian Graeme Lockyer coordinated the event and said they try to raise enough to provide about $2000 to each organisation and looked set to do that again through the calcutta-style auction and racing raffles.
Pig trainer and owner Kevin Kiley said the races were hugely popular.
"We do about 100 races a year from Cairns to Hobart. We've raised $4million for charities over the past 18 years we've been going."
Mr Kiley said he was really happy with yesterday's turnout with more than 300 people navigating the summer heat to enjoy the family day out.
"There's a magnificent crowd here at Iluka today. The bowling club have done a fantastic job."
Mr Kiley, who also owns and run the Sandy Creek Hotel near Warwick, Qld, personally trains the pigs but said their racing careers are almost over before they begin.
"The window for racing pigs is fleeting, about three to four months. They grow very quickly. Pigs are the fastest growing animal in the world so their racing careers are over just as fast."
Mr Kiley said the secret to training young pigs to race is a secret weapon to basically bribe them into following the circuit.
"Milk. That's it. They love it. Any kind. They are smart animals and quick to learn."
He said all the pigs at Iluka were racing for the first time and he could tell they were adjusting to their new roles very quickly.
"They have to get used to the crowd noises, my booming auctioneer voice and loud music and these pigs are already showing signs of that," pointing to the sleeping pack despite the loud auction going on around them.
"They are no different to racehorses. When their careers are over they are used for breeding, as pets or some just go the way other livestock goes..."
On that note, run little piggy, run.