Jack has been one of our farmers from the start. He runs a third generation pig farm in Urbana.
Tradition runs deep at our farms.
Sows (momma pigs) live in large spacious buildings called Gestation Barns before they give birth with other mommas. Pigs in these barns are not confined and are able to move about freely, while still being protected from the elements and in a safe place for farmers to handle them if need be.
Many of our finishing pigs live in groups in open air hoop barns in West Liberty, Ohio. They are protected from the elements, yet get plenty of fresh air. We use corn stalks as bedding; it’s one way we strive to reduce and reuse resources.
John overlooks a hoop barn full of pigs. The plastic boots he wears on his feet help protect the pigs from any outside germs that may have come in on John’s shoes. Biosecurity is critical on a hog farm.
On bedding in the hoop barns, pigs are able to lie down, cool off, and get dirty. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so mud actually acts as a cooling agent for them.
Jack and John, one of our father-son teams. John is an owner and Jack raises a lot of our pigs.
Baby pigs, called piglets, nursing just a few hours after birth. Pigs will grow almost 270 pounds in 6-7 months of life.
The notches on these pig’s ears are not from fighting- in fact, much like a social security card, they are permanent ways of identifying each pig individually. In order to be considered 100% Berkshire (which we strive for), our pigs all have to be pedigreed and able to have their linage traced. Ear notches help us do that, as well as track any treatments a pig may have had.
We believe that education is incredibly important, so we strive to keep our retailers up to date and understanding of our processes (often with field trips to our farms).
Sows who are about to, or have recently given birth, live in temporary farrowing crates for the safety of their babies, themselves, and our farmers. This environment protects them from the outside elements, allows the babies to move about and nurse without accidentally being trampled by their mother, and allows the farmer to properly care for both momma and babies.
Saddleberk pigs are fed specially designed rations to help them grow. A pig’s dinner is generally mostly corn and soybean meal, mixed with specific amounts of vitamins and minerals according to their age and growth. Saddleberk pigs are NEVER fed antibiotics.
Much of the corn used in the pigs’ rations is grown on our farms as well. It is another way we strive to be sustainable and self-reliant.
An outside view of the hoop barns, with feed bins close by.
Jack looks over the pigs daily to make sure everyone is healthy and happy.
Pigs sometimes get sick. When this happens, we carefully record which animals are sick and require treatment, work with our vets to determine the proper course of action, which could include antibiotics, and then abide by all required rules for antibiotic withdrawal before harvest.
All antibiotics that could be used in pigs have specific withdrawal periods, during which the animal is not allowed to be harvested, as that antibiotic is still in the system. Because we keep careful records, we can ensure that animals are treated when need be, and that antibiotics never reach the food system.