A Visit to A Hog Farm
By Josh Easter
October 12, 2013
Questions & Answers for Interview of Dale Hill-Hog Farmer
October 5, 2013
1. Can you explain the process of purchasing weaner pigs?
Six weeks after birth, pigs are taken and placed in groups of 40-45 and loaded on special trailers and transported to a nursery farm. The 1st six weeks of their life, the pigs are fed from their mother. For the first week that they are at the nursery farm, the pigs are fed a special sweet feed mixed with water. They are fed this special food 2 to 3 times a day for 7 days. Then we move them on to their big boy feed, which is in their feeders.
2. How many do you usually purchase at a time?
We purchase between 2,000 to 2,500 pigs each week.
3. How long do you keep them?
The pigs stay at this farm for 6 weeks.
4. What is the average cost of weaner pigs?
These pigs are contract pigs and not privately purchased animals. Independent growers watch the market and try to buy animals when the prices are to their satisfaction. This is very rare this day and time. When pigs are on contract, the hog farmer does not actually own the hogs. They get paid by the amount of weight the pigs gain.
5. Do you have to transport your pigs yourself or does someone come to get them?
Because these are contract pigs, they are transported on special trailers to and from the farm nursery by the contract company.
6. What are some of the problems that you face in the hog industry?
Animal Science-proper breed genetics.
Environmental-Locations/inspections/drought conditions/corn supply
Pork Safety- Loading/transporting/fire/flood/acts of nature
Animal Health-just like small children, the pigs get runny noses, ear infections, stomach issues, bad colds, too hot, too cold, to much air, not enough air. Must manage proper medication, drug reactions.
7. What percent of the hogs die while on the farm?
We set a goal for our nursery of 1% or less.
8. What percent of the hogs die during transport?
Very few die surprisingly. Out of 2100 transported last week, zero died on the way. Factors such as temperature, time of day, and weather all play a role in the death rate.
9. Do you still get paid for the hog if it dies during transport?
No, the contract company owns the pig. What the hog farmer loses is the lost weight, which means he does not get paid for the pig plus he loses all of the feed that the pig has eaten.
10. How much of a problem is the smell on a hog farm?
Proper management of your lagoon is the key to controlling a friendly environment for everyone. Irrigation for lagoon management on suitable crops aid in the control of smell and odors as well as the weather and wind and humidity when irrigating. Size of farms with respect to homes is also key.
11. How many people does it take to run a hog farm of this size?
We employ 2 full time employees 7 days a week and 1 part-time helper on weekends. We also have 2 servicemen from the contract company we grow for. They visit the farm two to three times a week checking on the welfare of these pigs.
12. Do you think Federal and State Regulation helps or hurt the hog farmer? Why?
Regulations and rules on the State and Federal level are a part of this business. Because people will not always do what they should and these animals are relying on you for their well beings and safety.
13. Can you explain how you get rid of the solid waste?
Solid waste is removed from the lagoon by equipment and carried to the fields and applied to acres of land that need certain amounts of nitrogen for future corn crops. This solid waste is very valuable.
14. What does a hog farmer do with a hog carcass if it dies?
Company farms have a service that picks up all the carcass and process them for composition and incineration.
15. How are the hogs tagged?
Baby pigs are not tagged nor are processed full grown pigs. Mother pigs are tagged so that they can be tracked on how many pigs she has had to the time of breeding periods.
16. How do you think the hog farming industry helps North Carolina?
Hog farms gives farms a diversity to their land and their investment to control their risk of managing their cost. Tobacco, Corn, Beans, Cotton, Potatoes, are all good for the farmer but these crops are dependant upon “Mother Nature” to water and take of them. Hog farming brings some stability to their farms and adds jobs, trucking, and taxes for counties to improve schools and roads. And lets not forget the good ham biscuit!
17. How much of a problem is disease to the average hog farmer?
Disease control is the key to farming hogs. It is the driving force behind everything we do to keep these animals in the best health we can. This one aspect can cost a hog farmer months and even years to recover from. These animals are so close together it is like a school room when one person gets sick, it can be a very short time until everyone is sick. This issue is handled with medicine just like you and I take.
18. What do you feed your hogs?
We feed the hogs corn and water after the first week they are here.
19. How much does the average hog eat from the time it gets here to the time it leaves?
These pigs are with me about 40 days or 6 weeks. In that period of time, they will eat between 40 and 50 pounds each during that time span. To that in an example: they will eat about 4 quarter pounders a day from McDonalds or about 1 pound of feed a day each. Average feed consumed on 2100 pigs was around 70,000 pounds in 40 days. That is a lot of corn. To put it in perspective that’s “one room” at this farm . We have 8 rooms eating with a total # of animals , 2400 in each room or 19,200 pigs on this farm!
20. Do you think hog farming would be a good business for someone to start in today?
Hog farming is a great field to be in for several reasons:
Love for animals
Maximize farm land use
Tax benefits for farming
Starting a business is always exciting and fun. But, you must understand it is for the long run. It is not a get rich quick idea, but it is a sound investment that will one day help you if you manage your time and money and energy in a proper direction. And lastly, hog farming is a everyday event even during Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. These animals are your responsibility and you have them captive.
Summary of Product
By Josh Easter
Visited a hog nursery
Asked Dale Hill Questions about the Hog Industry
Typed Q&A from Interview with Dale Hill
Made video of part of the visit
Created 2 diagrams
Wrote Summary of Visit
Scanned Permission Slip