WORLD PORK EXPO: Pig Adventures in Transparency05 June 2014
USA - Jon Hoek, Vice President of Pig Production, Belstra Milling Company, is dedicated to educating others about pork production. He spoke to the Pork Academy during World Pork Expo about The Pig Adventure, a working pig farm and agro-tourism destination in Fair Oaks, Indiana, writes Carla Wright, The Pig Site.
The Pig Adventure and the Dairy Adventure comprise Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana. They are true working farms which are accessible to the public. According to Mr. Houk, they are not “show” farms. They are farms committed to educating the public about modern farming.
The Pig Adventure includes a gestation barn, farrowing barn and a GDU (gilt development unit) barn. When the public visits, which happens 7 days a week, they view the pigs from rooms above the barns. To ensure good biosecurity, the viewing rooms have completely separate ventilation systems than that of the barns.
Many times throughout the day, farm staff are available to answer questions. Commonly asked questions are about the farrowing crates. “Can she turn around?” “How long does she have to stay in there?”
The Pig Adventure is dedicated to transparency and facing head-on the issues surrounding animal agriculture today. Mr. Hoek says that many farmers are gun-shy because of the pressure put upon them by activists. He firmly believes that being transparent is the answer, not going into hiding about current animal husbandry practices.
One of the challenges of agro-tourism, as done at The Pig Adventure, is that the staff is always in front of the public. They’re trained to interact with the public, and also on how to deal with real time issues, such as what to do when a sow dies. They must think through ahead of time on how to handle such occurrences.
Mr. Houk emphasized that “We don’t change protocols because we’re visible, including tail docking and castration.”
“Advocacy and defense of our industry is near and dear to our hearts. We want to be an advocate of our industry.”
“The Pig Adventure is recognized as a leader in pig production around the world,” said Mr. Houk.