So how are pigs raised? Here is an overview of how our pigs are raised. Granted, there are many ways to raise pigs and as long as the health and care of the animal is the highest priority, there is no wrong way. Each farmer raises pigs based on their resources, knowledge and access to expertise.
Pigs Raised Indoors
We house our pigs indoors because we feel it’s the best system for them. We have brutal winters in Minnesota and our pig genetics would not allow them to thrive outdoors. By bringing them inside, we can control the temperature, ventilation, eliminate predators, sunburn, bug bites, mange, and worms. Technology makes us better farmers. We can manage the barn environment through a phone app–allowing us to be better farmers.
Pig Health Care
We work closely with a local veterinarian who develops a health care plan for our pigs. The health care plan includes vaccinations, which help prevent illnesses. We only administer antibiotics when absolutely necessary and only as a last resort. When we need to administer antibiotics, our veterinarian prescribes a prescription, which is required to purchase antibiotics.
We also follow drug labels regarding withdrawals. We do not send pigs to market with any drug residue. It’s illegal and the packers check all animals for any drug residue.
Feeding Our Animals
We also work with an animal nutritionist who gives us “recipes” to feed our animals. Each recipe (we call ration) is designed for the animal’s specific growth stage. Our pigs are on our farm for about 6 months where they go from about 15 pounds to 280 pounds in 6 months. In this time frame, they eat 9 different recipes, all designed to meet their nutritional needs.
We store manure in 8′ cement pits underneath the barns. The manure drops between spaces in the slats (flooring). Once a year, after harvest, we apply the manure to our cropland and then plow it in. We have a flow meter on our manure spreader that helps us apply the proper amounts because this is the crop’s food for next year. We don’t want to be short and we don’t want to apply too much as that is wastage. We also stay back from any water sources. It is our opinion that manure is a better fertilizer than commercial fertilizer. We like to think of it as the ultimate recycling program. Pigs poop goes into the soil to grow corn to feed the pigs. As far as cleanliness we wash and sanitize our barns after each group of pigs.
Cleanliness is very important for the health of our pigs. So, is our system perfect? Probably not–but we continually improve. Every. single. day. We wake up each morning and think about how we can do a better job today than what we did yesterday. It’s a hard job, but we are proud of the pork we produce. And just because people may not “know their farmer” when they purchase pork in the meat case, they can be confident the meat they eat was raised by farmers who work very hard to produce a healthy and affordable product.