Food & Swine

Our Modern Pig Barns

Today I’m taking you on a tour of our modern pig barns.  Come on into my prep shed and grab a pair of coveralls and clean boots and we’ll be on our way.

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Welcome to my family-owned modern pig barns.

We own hog finisher barns in central Iowa.  Finisher barns are where pigs get ‘finished’, meaning they grow to reach market weight.  Our particular barns are ‘grow-finish’ barns.  We receive pigs, via semi-truck transport, from the nursery, at weights of around 50-60 pounds.  They come to our cleaned, disinfected barns and we provide them specialized care and diets to ensure their growth and health until they reach market weight of 280 pounds.

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A picture of our finisher barns. Feed is stored in the bins.

Our modern barns allow us to raise pigs indoors.  They have ventilation systems in place and skinny slats in the floors so the waste drops through, below to the manure storage pit.  We use this manure to apply to our crop ground, giving the ground vital, stable and safe nutrients for the next year’s crop.  The barns provide us a safe, climate controlled environment, free from predators and the unpredictable weather of our native state.  When the weather gets hot, we have misters and fans that keep our pigs cool.  When it is cold out the curtains close so winter’s chill stays outside and the pigs in the barn are comfortable and warm.

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Special precautions are taken to keep the pigs in our barns healthy.  We prevent germs from entering the barns by using disinfectant, wearing coveralls, boots that are only worn in the specific barn we are visiting and we shower before entering the barns and as we are leaving as well.  We even have a dedicated washer and dryer in our garage to accommodate our work clothes.

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My husband adjusted feeders in every pen to make sure the right amount of feed was coming out and cleaning out waterers by hand.

Feed is trucked in to each of the barns from local feedmills, and some farms grind their own feed at their own personal family mill.  We maintain close relationships to the employees at the mill and our feed nutrition consultant (in our case, my husband) so we know the exact adjustments the pigs need in their diet to optimize their growth and comfort.

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Moving one pig into the, currently empty, ‘watch pen’. She was movin’!

We treat pigs that come across illness with antibiotics as you would for your children if they are sick. They are a costly part of the operation, and are used with care. Pigs that receive antibiotics get moved to the ‘watch pen’ or ‘hospital pen’ where we monitor their health closely. If the pig is given antibiotics, strict withdrawal times are monitored.  Keeping the pigs in the watch pens allows us to directly observe the pigs in need of extra care. Our treated pigs don’t leave the watch pen until the withdrawal period for the medicine that we gave them has passed.  Pigs are not sent off the farm to market until the specific withdrawal period for the medicine that we had administered, has passed.

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This is actually the ‘watch pen’, before we brought the pig there.

Once all of the pigs are loaded for market and the barn is empty, we begin power-washing and disinfecting the barns from top to bottom.  It is an essential part of what we do, keeping a clean environment is important to the success of our farm and the health of the new pigs we’ll get in soon.

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Teaching proper stockmanship to the next generation is top priority to our family.

Note: This modern pig farm differs from our small show pig operation, where we house pigs outdoors as well as farrow (when sows have their piglets) indoors in farrowing crates and outdoors if necessary.  We face some hardships in raising our hogs outdoors, from relentless Iowa predators to very extreme Iowa weather, and more.  On my blog you’ll see some of the many different ways pigs can be raised and I’ll help you find answers to any questions you may have about pig farming.

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In a different barn you’ll find Berkshire pigs too!

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Checking temperature controls, the misters will be coming on soon!

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Thanks for taking the barn tour with me! Head back over to the prep shed, leave your coveralls in the bin and boots on the trays. Wash up and disinfect before you go!

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We take garbage bags with separate outfits of clean clothes for kids to wear.  No coveralls to fit them just yet.

Sneaky Reader Giveaway! *GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED, CONGRATS TAMMY G.  Thanks for reading to the very end, leave a blog post comment about ‘your favorite way to eat bacon’ and you’ll be entered to win $20 worth of pork certificates, bbq seasonings and sauce!

Cristen

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51 Comments

  • Reply crookedbrandranch September 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Good old fasioned Bacon and Eggs for me! lol Thanks for the tour!
    -Lori

  • Reply Marla aka Crazy Mom September 7, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Great post!
    I LOVE BLTs with crispy bacon.

  • Reply Miss Molly September 7, 2014 at 2:48 am

    Cristen, your family’s dedication to education is what Iowa needs. I wish every person with a “stop factory farms” billboard in their yard was required to take this tour before putting up the sign. Let’s be honest, your commercial barn is cleaned and disinfected more than many homes. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply Beth Ann September 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    What a fabulous post! You are helping us all understand your industry better with posts like this! Thanks!

  • Reply awastell September 8, 2014 at 1:17 am

    This is a great (honest) look at the industry. Thanks for sharing. I like my bacon plain and crispy. Husband eats his all limp and pale, barely cooked.

  • Reply LoveCookStudy September 8, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Thanks for this post- we need more like it to support the pork industry! At my husband’s barns, we get the little pigs straight out of the farrowing units to raise to market weight. 🙂 We just had BLT’s for supper tonight, and we both like our bacon EXTRA crispy!

  • Reply katieonthebanksofsquawcreek September 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    BLTs! Or, just fried up, by the pound. 🙂 And none of that yucky turkey bacon for me. 🙂

    • Reply Cristen September 13, 2014 at 3:38 am

      I’m still laughing from your comment about turkey bacon! 🙂 XOXO

  • Reply Kelley Bradshaw September 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Bacon, eggs, and waffles! Thanks for the barn tour!

  • Reply Linda Pohlman Hilton September 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Cristen, I’ve decided you are related to the Herbold’s, I just can’t decide exactly how. I went through school, K-12 with Cathy. I loved her like the sister I never had and miss her still. Please catch me up on the family a little. I love your website and ALL the info you share. I found you while looking up info for the State Fair. Love your recipes and how special of you to share them with us! I LOVE MY BACON every way possible! For breakfast with pancakes, eggs, or waffles. For lunch in broccoli & cauliflower salad, & BLT’s. For supper, crumbled on my baked potato, in Calico Beans,& in any salad. I haven’t tried in cake or cookies yet, but I’m sure they are great too. OR JUST BY ITSELF!! Thanks again for sharing, Linda Pohlman Hilton.

  • Reply ncpigtown September 8, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Very good write up… I raise nursery pigs here on the east coast and I appreciate your “agvocacy.” Take care…

  • Reply ncpigtown September 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Great review on how pigs are raised. I grow nursery pigs here on the east coast and I appreciate you taking time to let folks know what we do! Thanks…

  • Reply SMarie September 9, 2014 at 3:40 am

    My first tour inside a modern pig barn! Thanks for sharing. (And my favorite way to eat bacon is anything my husband prepares with it- he is the master chef at our house!)

  • Reply Chris September 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Very interesting tour of your barn and educational, too.!!
    I love my bacon thick and EXTRA crispy….yummy..!!!

  • Reply Stefanie Busby September 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    That was a very fun and interesting read! 🙂
    I love bacon in almost any way, but frying it up for my potato soup or green beans are my two favorites!

  • Reply Emily Simmons September 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    On a blt with tomatoes fresh from my garden!!

  • Reply krmax September 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Bacon!!!!!!!!!! There is NO wrong way to eat bacon! My favorite is fried crisp but not hard and then just fill my plate! 😀

  • Reply Colette Crock September 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    It’s a tie – fried up super crisp all by itself… Or chopped up and cooked hominy and tomatoes.

  • Reply Jenny Casteel Unternahrer September 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    BLTS and Baked Potato Soup!

  • Reply Anne S. September 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Bacon on sandwiches… with my tomatoes and lots of mayo!

  • Reply Monica September 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    What an interesting post! I had no idea the disinfecting protocols were that rigorous. Very cool.

    My favorite bacon is the buckboard bacon my husband makes–and I love it on warm buttered toast with onions and sometimes a slice of swiss or provolone.
    Mmmm.

  • Reply Gina Vos September 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Bacon on my ham and cheese lettuce wrap for lunch!

  • Reply bbranderhorst September 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Loved your virtual barn tour! My favorite way to eat bacon is definitely extra crispy!

  • Reply Misty September 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    A la carte! I like a crisp piece of bacon all by itself the best.

  • Reply sarah oldham September 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Bacon wrapped asparagus!! Baked or grilled.

  • Reply Emily September 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Oh that little Barrett is just the cutest:)

    Please deliver a giant BLT;)

  • Reply Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats September 9, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Bacon on a BLT is my absolute favorite!

  • Reply SandyN September 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Loved seeing your pig operation! It’s hard to pick a favorite for bacon…I love it any way and way too much!!! I do love bacon and cheese on a biscuit for breakfast! Totally a splurge and not very often, but delicious nonetheless!! 🙂

  • Reply Brenda September 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing about your hog operation. It is vital to share accurate information about how livestock is really and properly raised to educate the public. Everything is better with bacon!

  • Reply Janine September 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    What a great tour! And yes, farmers truly are compassionate caretakers of their livestock no matter if they have 1 milk cow or thousands of head of livestock on feed. We couldn’t do the job well (that’s the ONLY way to do a job anyway) if we didn’t have our hearts and souls into our livelihood.

  • Reply Cami Brewer (Nadadrop Ranch) September 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    My new favorite way to eat bacon is to chop it while raw, cook it until crispy then use it to top a chocolate dipped marshmallow. So yummy!

  • Reply Kelli @ the sustainable couple September 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    On an egg & cheese sandwich!

  • Reply Tammy Gaudette September 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Bacon, Egg, Cheese Sandwich (toast) or BLT or Bacon wrapped smokies or in baked beans or beef bean bacon bake or just plain!

  • Reply marykconnie September 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Just plain BACON!

  • Reply marykconnie September 9, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I love just plain ol’ BACON!

  • Reply quiltwhinny September 10, 2014 at 12:27 am

    This is an easy bacon appetizer and it always gets rave reviews:

    1/3 piece bacon, wrap around whole chestnut
    Place lapped over side down on cookie sheet
    350 one hour
    DIPPING SAUCE: 1 1/3 cup ketchup. 1/4 cup brown sugar. 1/4 cup sugar
    5-6 dashes Worcestershire sauce

  • Reply Ronda Musick September 10, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I enjoyed your tour! It reminds me of some friends that raise show pigs here in SW Oklahoma! We are farmer\ ranchers we have stockers that we revive at around 350 to 400 pounds and run them on wheat pasture & grass until they are ready to go to feedlots at 800 pounds! We also have alfalfa hay and silage that we chop to feed to the cattle. We usually have around 2,000 head on hand year around. We also run 2 semi-trucks that haul cattle & hay that we sell to dairys. We are very decertified to keep the family farm going we also own 2 funeral homes & a flower shop. So I am either playing with my granddaughter, running after parts for the farm, delivering flowers or helping with a funeral! I never know from day to day what my day will be like! Our family farm consists of my husband & I, our 1 single grown son, 1 married son, daughter in law & granddaughter (age 2), Father & Mother in law, and my Mom works in one of our funeral homes. We also have several hired hands to keep up with! Lol!! Oh my favorite way to eat bacon is on a baked potato with cheese!! Yum!!

  • Reply Tammy September 10, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Bacon cashew popcorn

  • Reply Lana September 10, 2014 at 8:46 am

    We have a dedicated “Bacon Day” and that’s usually Saturday. We cook ours on a George Forman grill, and we rarely have leftovers!

  • Reply Josh September 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

    BLT’s is a summer favorite, but bacon wrapped shrimp is outstanding!

  • Reply crazyfarmlife September 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    BLT’s with fresh garden tomatoes….mmmmm

  • Reply Brandon Wanders September 13, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Very nice tour! I work for a feed mill in central iowa and deliver to hundreds of barns around.
    My favorite way to eat bacon is cooking it over a fire on a grate. No grease and very crispy. Whole new taste to bacon. My family thought I was crazy first time they seen me do this and now that’s the only way they will eat it now.

  • Reply Cristen September 13, 2014 at 3:42 am

    You all have my mouth watering from your comments about BACON! So happy that you all read the post, and thankful for your comments. 🙂 Now… the winner of the “Sneaky Reader Giveaway IS…. TAMMY G.! Tammy, will you please email me at foodandswineinfo at gmail dot com with your mailing address?! Thanks everyone! Time to round up more prizes for you all! In all sincerity, thank you for taking the time to read my posts, it means so much to me. XOXO “Hogs” and Kisses, Cristen

  • Reply robin September 17, 2014 at 2:17 am

    great post! need more of this type of education.

  • Reply robin September 17, 2014 at 2:18 am

    by the way…I bake our bacon. Awesome!

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  • Reply Ruthee Anette Dewald November 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Loved your story on Farmher. You have a Beautiful Family and Operation. Might have to try pear pie. like apples in pie.Love to see women in Agriculture. Is is hard or time consuming to be a blogger? just wondering. Will be back to this site.

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