Have you ever wondered what a day is like for a pig farmer? Well, I am going to share with you what our daily life is like at our farm, which is located in Martin County, Minnesota.
On our farm we have about 2,200 pigs. On another farm we own, located about two miles away, we have another 1,200. The piglets arrive on a semi-truck and weigh about 13-15 pounds. They are about three weeks old. Where do the piglets come from? They come from the farm where they were born. Because they are about three weeks old and ready to be weaned, they are ready to eat solid feed instead of eating only from their mothers.
The most important part of raising pigs is to make sure they are fed, they have water to drink and they are healthy. When the pigs arrive on our farm, we move them into a barn, sort them and then put into groups. We make sure the barns have the appropriate temperatures. In the winter, we turn on heaters to warm the barns. In the summer, we have fans to help them keep cool. Did you know pigs do not sweat? This is why we have fans and water misters in the barns to help them stay comfortable during the hot weather months.
An important aspect of keeping the pigs healthy is reducing the amount of people coming into the barns. We don’t want people to bring in unwanted viruses or other diseases. Working closely with our veterinarian, pigs are put on a vaccination program which helps keep them healthy.
Here's a one minute video of how we prepare ourselves for entering the barn.
Barn Life for Piglets
Once the piglets settle into their new living quarters, we have to teach them how to drink and eat because up to this point, they have only been eating from their mothers. There are feeders in each of the pens. Their food is placed into the feeder where there is also a waterer (drinking fountain). The way we teach them to eat and drink is to put both water and feed in the feeder. We also put some feed on the floor during the first few days. They learn quickly how to eat and drink. The first feed they eat is a pelleted feed. It is made specially for piglets. After a few days, we start feeding them ground feed, which we make on our farm.
Multiple times a day, we are in the barns making sure they are eating, drinking and look healthy. We walk in each of the pens looking at each pig. We like to see pigs running and playing with each other. If we see a piglet that doesn’t seem to be doing well, we take special care of them. We will look to see if we can figure out what might be ailing the pig. If we need to, we may call a veterinarian (an animal doctor) to help us. Sometimes that means putting them in a special pen where we can give them extra attention and hopefully start feeling well again. It is very important for us to have pigs that are healthy.
Check out these short one minute videos about "Why Pigs Live in Barns."
Pigs eat a lot of food. Making food is one of our main jobs on the farm. We have an on-the-farm kitchen where we make the feed for them. Sowhat is in pig feed? Corn that we grow on our farm is used along with soybean meal. Soybean meal comes from a local soybean processing plant. We drive our truck to the plant and they load the hopper with soybean meal. We then unload the truck on our farm into a feed bin where the soybean meal is stored until we need to use it for feed. In addition to corn and soybean meal, we add in minerals, vitamins and other nutrients.
An interesting fact – We make nine different rations (another word for recipe) for our pigs. Each ration is developed by an animal nutritionist for specific nutritional needs of the pigs as they grow. The pigs will eat the feed for about six months, at which time they will weigh about 280 pounds. At that time, they will go to market. On our farm, we sell our pigs to Hormel, located in Austin, Minnesota.
Again, we strive everyday to make sure our pigs are comfortable and content. We love raising pigs which provide people with food on their tables!
Lessons for K-5 Educators
The lessons below could be used in conjunction with the article above. Some are adaptable for eLearning and some are better suited for in the classroom.
Animal Life Cycles https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=81&search_term_lp=pigs
Pigs on the Farm: https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=653&search_term_lp=pigs
This Little Pig: https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=272&search_term_lp=pigs
Pigs on the Farm: https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=714&search_term_lp=pigs
Let’s Raise the Barn: https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=701&search_term_lp=barn