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Senior Advisor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.


@belarus wrote:

In this day and age I'd never discourage anyone from a college education.  And my point was missed I think.  It requires intelligence to raise hogs in the field.  Intelligence is not synomous with eduction.


Sorry I got snarky there Belarus. You are very correct about needing an education. Raising hogs in the field these days takes perseverance. As I mostly post in the forum section I have not read a lot of your post but did know you have an outdoor operation. My memory wants to tell me you also raise hogs inside as well. I think you raise a lot of them and are from northern IN. Not trying to be nosey but would be interested in your operation. Are you independent or do you work with some organization that helps you market the meat as field raised organic? Do you farrow in individuals and finish in pull togethers or are your facilities something more complex? Are your waterers energy free. Feeders on platforms? With this cold coming I hope you don't still water in 85 gallon fountains with coal oil lamps. Man I used to get sick of those things.

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Senior Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

I deserve anything anyone dishes out to me on this board.  lol  I used to be as big of an @$$ as anyone would push me into being.  I've grown up.  I don't like agitating people anymore.  Very small operation.  Very diversified.  Very integrated.  Very independent.  Not seasonal enough.  Only thing in buildings is the baby birds in the brooder.   We raise pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys on pasture on just over 200 acres.  Have a USDA inspected plant.  We keep about 15-20 employees total depending on the time of year.  We run trucks to Chicago, Indy, and Detroit.  About 60 pigs a week average.  I think we are second largest pastured poultry operation in the country.  We were largest at one point and will probably be there again in 2015.  We use energy free waterers for pigs.  I'm a huge fan of Highcroft energy free waterers.  Probably their biggest fan.  They work. No ice at all if you keep enough market hogs on them in our climate with our 52 degree ground water.  Sows, in the weather we are going to get, like to sleep 23 and a half hours a day and the water in the waterers have to set for that long so its a little more management with sows but they are night and day difference between them and mirafonts.  http://www.highcroftco.com/drinkers.html  Dad always called those fuel oil heaters for the 85 gallon waters smudge pots.  What was their real name?  Lots of guys wouldn't have quit hogs outside if they'd have had  black plastic pipe, energy free waterers, four wheelers, four wheel drive tractors, low impedence fence chargers, round bales of straw, and hydraulic trailers.  I tell all my help that everything we do is a lot of work but if they only knew.  We really have it easy!

 I've been telling everyone don't let anyone fool you this monday and tuesday is going to be rough on any livestock producer to keep them comfortable.  If anyone doesn't believe me watch weekly slaughter numbers under federal inspection and watch market hog weights under federal inspection.  

We farrow in quonsets from Hochtetler in Nappannee, Indiana.    http://www.hochstetlergrain.com/indiana_grain_equipment_products_utility_shelter.php  We use the 12' X 24's for finishing and use the 6X6 for farrowing.  We retired the last of the pull togethers.  Had smidleys that we had cut down twice and put new runners on.  What was the lumber yard in Ohio that made them also?  Was it Napoleon?   Its just so much easier to move the big steel quonsets.  I think pigs are more comfortable summer and winter without as many modifications to shelter in a pull together.   We move them with the hydraulic trailer by just backing under them, lifting, and driving away.   Used to be able to buy the farrowing huts used because they sold them by semi loads in Cass, Michigan.  We bought our first new ones ever last summer.  Grampa bought most of ours used in the 70's.  I was always told one of the High's relatives brought the idea back from WWII cause he seen it in England.  Their rolling sandy ground in cass county Michigan and that buffered micro climate being that close downwind from Lake Michigan gave those guys a competitive advantage for a one litter gilt system.  Lots of them took it to 1000+ gilts when that was a lot of breeding stock.  Most of them quit in 94 when PRRS took hold and ripped systems to shreds that never farrowed a sow that had a little immunity as well as sold all of the pigs for dirt in the fall compared to the average price for the year.  1998 finished almost all the rest of them off.  Handful of niman producers in the area but almost no hogs outside.  Someone should really research and write a book about the history of the pastured hog operations. It would be a very interesting story.   Cass County, Henry County, North West Iowa, and South West Missouri were the big areas for a reason.   Climate, soil type, topography/gently rolling, and personality of the farmers were the big factors in my opinion.    We use almost all osborne 1 and 2 ton feeders.  We use them for the ducks and turkeys also.  They won't work for chickens.   I wish pax still made the last feeder with the orange lids.  There aren't really many choices for an outside hog feeder.  We hog down about 50-60 acres of corn each year but its more for a place to put market hogs.  Osborne feeders are really good but very pricey in my opinion.  We have three hydraulic trailers.  We bought a new one two years ago.  Rupp still had one guy that had built one.  The guy told me they built 800 a year in their prime.  The infrastructure for this industry is just about none-existant.  It wasn't that long ago there were 600,000 hog farmers in the US and there are about 60,000 now.  Take out the biggest 30 and you've eliminated 75% of the pigs.  

This has been an interesting ride.  I always tell people I could have easily been the last generation to raise pigs.  I sold hogs in 98 for just about nothing....less than what my grampa sold them for in the depression.  What we do now is very very complicated and nerve racking to say the least to get production, processing, and marketing to sync but the opportunities in livestock production are endless.  (and I'd trade it all in a minute to be able to just raise pigs instead of deal with employees, customers, inspectors, bankers, etc.)  The American dream is much more difficult now days but its alive and well.  I've almost got my dad convinced I'm not crazy.  lol  Its kind of funny cause we are even starting to evolve out of the wacko phase in the community....not completely but a little.  We've been balls to the wall since 1998.  One three year stretch in there we hit better than 1600 on the INC's fastest growing independent companies in the US after a Chicago Magazine article.    I've got people that will rent us ground now and others that will grow non-gmo grain for us.  We even made the mainstream processor magazine.  http://www.provisioneronline.com/articles/print/99891-put-out-to-pasture    The one thing I still wish for and I don't think will ever happen is for the group of conventional farmers that are just automatically nasty to me to calm down.  I'm really not their enemy and lots of them are just down right nasty to me when they find out I'm a pastured livestock producer.    Farming is a rough job like I said before regardless if you are a hobby, niche, or commodity producer.  The real enemy of all farmers in my opinion is regulations and a level global playing field.  I'm still convinced and I've yet to find one conventional farmer to agree with me that I'm their salvation.  Our price is two to three times their price and the overwhelming majority of consumers want cheap food.  We give customers a choice instead of our government wanting to regulate my production practices on everyone.  Without the right mindset of the producer, pasture production would not be better for the animal.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't for a minute like whats happened to the hog industry.  Sorry for my long rant.  

 

Where are you located?

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Senior Advisor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.


@belarus wrote:

@I deserve anything anyone dishes out to me on this board.  lol  I used to be as big of an @$$ as anyone would push me into being.  I've grown up.  I don't like agitating people anymore.  Very small operation.  Very diversified.  Very integrated.  Very independent.  Not seasonal enough.  Only thing in buildings is the baby birds in the brooder.   We raise pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys on pasture on just over 200 acres.  Have a USDA inspected plant.  We keep about 15-20 employees total depending on the time of year.  We run trucks to Chicago, Indy, and Detroit.  About 60 pigs a week average.  I think we are second largest pastured poultry operation in the country.  We were largest at one point and will probably be there again in 2015.  We use energy free waterers for pigs.  I'm a huge fan of Highcroft energy free waterers.  Probably their biggest fan.  They work. No ice at all if you keep enough market hogs on them in our climate with our 52 degree ground water.  Sows, in the weather we are going to get, like to sleep 23 and a half hours a day and the water in the waterers have to set for that long so its a little more management with sows but they are night and day difference between them and mirafonts.  http://www.highcroftco.com/drinkers.html  Dad always called those fuel oil heaters for the 85 gallon waters smudge pots.  What was their real name?  Lots of guys wouldn't have quit hogs outside if they'd have had  black plastic pipe, energy free waterers, four wheelers, four wheel drive tractors, low impedence fence chargers, round bales of straw, and hydraulic trailers.  I tell all my help that everything we do is a lot of work but if they only knew.  We really have it easy!

 I've been telling everyone don't let anyone fool you this monday and tuesday is going to be rough on any livestock producer to keep them comfortable.  If anyone doesn't believe me watch weekly slaughter numbers under federal inspection and watch market hog weights under federal inspection.  

We farrow in quonsets from Hochtetler in Nappannee, Indiana.    http://www.hochstetlergrain.com/indiana_grain_equipment_products_utility_shelter.php  We use the 12' X 24's for finishing and use the 6X6 for farrowing.  We retired the last of the pull togethers.  Had smidleys that we had cut down twice and put new runners on.  What was the lumber yard in Ohio that made them also?  Was it Napoleon?   Its just so much easier to move the big steel quonsets.  I think pigs are more comfortable summer and winter without as many modifications to shelter in a pull together.   We move them with the hydraulic trailer by just backing under them, lifting, and driving away.   Used to be able to buy the farrowing huts used because they sold them by semi loads in Cass, Michigan.  We bought our first new ones ever last summer.  Grampa bought most of ours used in the 70's.  I was always told one of the High's relatives brought the idea back from WWII cause he seen it in England.  Their rolling sandy ground in cass county Michigan and that buffered micro climate being that close downwind from Lake Michigan gave those guys a competitive advantage for a one litter gilt system.  Lots of them took it to 1000+ gilts when that was a lot of breeding stock.  Most of them quit in 94 when PRRS took hold and ripped systems to shreds that never farrowed a sow that had a little immunity as well as sold all of the pigs for dirt in the fall compared to the average price for the year.  1998 finished almost all the rest of them off.  Handful of niman producers in the area but almost no hogs outside.  Someone should really research and write a book about the history of the pastured hog operations. It would be a very interesting story.   Cass County, Henry County, North West Iowa, and South West Missouri were the big areas for a reason.   Climate, soil type, topography/gently rolling, and personality of the farmers were the big factors in my opinion.    We use almost all osborne 1 and 2 ton feeders.  We use them for the ducks and turkeys also.  They won't work for chickens.   I wish pax still made the last feeder with the orange lids.  There aren't really many choices for an outside hog feeder.  We hog down about 50-60 acres of corn each year but its more for a place to put market hogs.  Osborne feeders are really good but very pricey in my opinion.  We have three hydraulic trailers.  We bought a new one two years ago.  Rupp still had one guy that had built one.  The guy told me they built 800 a year in their prime.  The infrastructure for this industry is just about none-existant.  It wasn't that long ago there were 600,000 hog farmers in the US and there are about 60,000 now.  Take out the biggest 30 and you've eliminated 75% of the pigs.  

This has been an interesting ride.  I always tell people I could have easily been the last generation to raise pigs.  I sold hogs in 98 for just about nothing....less than what my grampa sold them for in the depression.  What we do now is very very complicated and nerve racking to say the least to get production, processing, and marketing to sync but the opportunities in livestock production are endless.  (and I'd trade it all in a minute to be able to just raise pigs instead of deal with employees, customers, inspectors, bankers, etc.)  The American dream is much more difficult now days but its alive and well.  I've almost got my dad convinced I'm not crazy.  lol  Its kind of funny cause we are even starting to evolve out of the wacko phase in the community....not completely but a little.  We've been balls to the wall since 1998.  One three year stretch in there we hit better than 1600 on the INC's fastest growing independent companies in the US after a Chicago Magazine article.    I've got people that will rent us ground now and others that will grow non-gmo grain for us.  We even made the mainstream processor magazine.  http://www.provisioneronline.com/articles/print/99891-put-out-to-pasture    The one thing I still wish for and I don't think will ever happen is for the group of conventional farmers that are just automatically nasty to me to calm down.  I'm really not their enemy and lots of them are just down right nasty to me when they find out I'm a pastured livestock producer.    Farming is a rough job like I said before regardless if you are a hobby, niche, or commodity producer.  The real enemy of all farmers in my opinion is regulations and a level global playing field.  I'm still convinced and I've yet to find one conventional farmer to agree with me that I'm their salvation.  Our price is two to three times their price and the overwhelming majority of consumers want cheap food.  We give customers a choice instead of our government wanting to regulate my production practices on everyone.  Without the right mindset of the producer, pasture production would not be better for the animal.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't for a minute like whats happened to the hog industry.  Sorry for my long rant.  

 

Where are you located?


Thanks. Very interesting read. 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis. I used to raise 800/head/year. Also helped and have interest with my brothers 1,200head/year. Mine were a self built concrete farrowing, let the sows out twice/day to feed, finish the hogs in a old barn facing the east. I would have quit years early had it not been for Osborne feeders. My neighbor renamed the pax sureflows to the rain gage. After evry rain used a hay hook to get the feed flowing again. Was lucky if the hogs didn't chew your pants off.  Had mirafount drinkers for the finishing hogs, Used them to 20 below zero and they always worked, Pax electric for the sows. Of course the thermostats and element never went bad until it was subzero. 98 broke my spirits. Until that time my thoughts were always how can I raise more, after that my thoughts turned to how long am I going to do this. It wasn't just 98, the next 3-4 years weren't much better. Had a hip replaced in 2010. Was afraid holding onto a snare and dragging herders around sorting was just too good of a chance to do serious damage to my new metal hip. Hogs are now gone, replaced with Holstein bucket calves. Buy them at 1-2 days old, finish them to slaughter. Again. thanks for the read.

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Senior Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

You all ready for the cold weather and snow?

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Veteran Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

We know there's a reason we've been having trouble getting gilts pregnant since last May 1.  I guess this blizzard warning we have now is one reason.  I'm glad we're not trying to keep pigs warm and dry, watered and fed out in a dirt lot in a quonset.  Nor trying to keep baby pigs warm by heat lamps in a drafty barn.

 

Has the PED virus affected you yet?  We heard last week that it has arrived in Cass County, MI in a big confinement sow operation on the east side of the county.

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Senior Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

Thats a scary disease in my opinion.  I haven't seen it yet.  I've heard it makes TGE look like a walk in the park.  East side of Cass county is getting pretty close to me.    It seems like one of these new diseases pops up every so often.  I'm not old enough to remember the cholera.  It used to be rhinitis.  Then Myco.  Then hemopholis (sp?).  Illeitis (sp?) was in there somewhere.  PRRS, Circo, and now PED.  Its always something, seems like.

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Senior Advisor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.


@belarus wrote:

Thats a scary disease in my opinion.  I haven't seen it yet.  I've heard it makes TGE look like a walk in the park.  East side of Cass county is getting pretty close to me.    It seems like one of these new diseases pops up every so often.  I'm not old enough to remember the cholera.  It used to be rhinitis.  Then Myco.  Then hemopholis (sp?).  Illeitis (sp?) was in there somewhere.  PRRS, Circo, and now PED.  Its always something, seems like.


Don't forget pseudorabies, I don't know how many hours of testing we went through to get rid of that. A mega hog farmer in the next county south of me is said to have PED. Zero farrowing average for  several weeks, if not months. Of course you know how the story can change after retold several times. So far my brothers haven't had trouble.

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Senior Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

Yep, can't forget pseudorabies.  That broke some farmers in this area.  It got bad north of here the summer of my senior year in high school.  I was off in England and Scotland as an exchange student with the FFA.  My 4-H pigs got showed by kids that had pigs that tested positive and couldn't take them to the fair.  Remember that fun blood testing?  Its hard to find a vet that works with large animals but long gone are the days when most vets are good at bleeding a pig.  I think all the states are psuedo free now and no one has to blood test breeding stock or show animals.  

Did you ever have TGE?  Everyone that I've talked to that has seen it says it looks like a horrible case of TGE.   Its pretty scary.  

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Senior Advisor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

Got TGE almost every February. Vaccinating seemed to help. Never did have a problem with pseudorabies, always vaccinated. Did have a few test positive after the blood test. Always culled them. One vet got pretty good at bleeding them. He would do it in the crate, without a snare.

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Senior Contributor

Re: I am not a confirmed mud man, but pigs do need some, I must confess.

belarus Senior Contributor
Jan 3
I disagree. Building a pasture livestock operation is complex. Pasture pig production is entirely about replacing capital and labor with management. Awful lot of biology, chemistry, mathematics, economics, etc in what we do. Awful lot more management and understanding of the animal than required in confinement operations. I could have built rockets for NASA but I chose to raise, process, and market pastured livestock instead.

Built rockets for NASA? And you chose to raise chooks and pigs? You need to go back to school and get guidance on careers comrade.
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