There are many different ways to raise pigs.
I was raised on a pig farm close to Columbus, Ohio, and my husband grew up on a pig farm in rural Western Ohio. While the paths our families have chosen as farmers are very different, the values and underlying approach to animal care is the same. I’ve had the privilege of promoting pork and working for Ohio farmers for over a decade, and I have enjoyed getting to know farmers who raise pigs differently than my family or my in-laws.
Regardless of the size of the barn, or shelter, PEOPLE RAISE PIGS.
My family has raised livestock for generations; caring for pigs and cattle is a job that we enjoy. My grandpa used to share a story that the best day of his life was the day the last horse left the farm, because he had spent so many hours walking behind horses to do field work. The first tractor he purchased was pretty small, but as newer technology became available throughout the twentieth century he would trade in his equipment for something slightly bigger and better. Even a small upgrade each decade means huge improvements over fifty years. My dad has continued to make steady improvements in the farm, both with tractors and with barns for animals.
My in-laws were unexpectedly given the opportunity to buy a farm from one of their parents when my husband was four. They began by raising corn, soybeans and turkeys. Income from a non-farm business supported their family, but as this business changed they wanted to shift more time towards farming. At that time, a larger farm in the area was looking for “contract growers”. A contract grower is offered a guaranteed income (that can be used to make barn payments) to build a large barn. Growers are required to provide daily care and management for the animals. My husband’s family took advantage to become bacon farmers by signing on to be contract growers. The arrangement has been mutually beneficial for their family and for the larger farm.
This spring, I had the pleasure to visit Six Buckets Farm. Seth and Lyndsey didn’t grow up raising animals, but they have developed a passion to grow food – specifically pork. The couple has spent countless hours using the internet to research to plan and find solutions to farming challenges. This couple has chosen to raise pigs on pasture and market pastured pork to a strong network on social media.
What do all of these Ohio pig farmers have in common?
-They all care for their animals and want to do the best job possible to keep them healthy and growing
-They are all part of farm families
-They all do chores and look at every pig everyday
-If they want to go on vacation they have to find a very qualified, responsible person to fill-in
I’m proud that pigs are raised several different ways in Ohio, by some great people! Whether you buy pork direct from a farmer or at the grocery store, you support Ohio farmers, and for that we are grateful!