Heritage Feeds Tomorrow: Terry Moeller describes deep roots in pork industry

Zoetis has launched their Heritage Feeds Tomorrow campaign, celebrating the rich family history of the pork industry
calendar icon 13 March 2024
clock icon 6 minute read

Terry Moeller, strategic account manager with the US Zoetis Pork team, spoke to The Pig Site’s Sarah Mikesell about his family’s journey in the swine industry.

Zoetis recently launched its Heritage Feeds Tomorrow campaign and is spotlighting Moeller because of his family’s five generations who have worked in the swine industry.

“My family's history in the pork industry dates all the way back to the early 1900s. My great-grandfather was part of what they called hog buying stations back in the day. He would round up local neighbors’ pigs and then send them off to packing plants,” said Moeller.

The pigs would be sold and shipped to different areas of the US like St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago; Memphis, Tennessee; or other locations. As that business grew, his grandfather got involved and then his father took over in the early 1980s.

“When my dad ran the business, I first experienced working in the yards sorting pigs as a young boy of maybe five or six years old. Then, I got interested in the farrow to finish operation that we started when I was a freshman in high school,” he said. “I started exhibiting pigs as my 4-H projects, and we showed pigs at the local, state and national level all through my high school years. So that’s how it all started for me. I think, as an industry, we need to appreciate and be proud of our heritage and where we came from. Heritage in this industry is very strong.”

Family life in the swine industry

“My wife and I raised our family – I like to say – ‘with the pork industry’. Most of our closest friends and our kids’ friends are people that are part of the pork industry. Our life has evolved around the industry and the networking that it has provided,” he explained.

Moeller and his wife have three sons who are very involved in the pork industry. His oldest son works as a sales representative in the pork industry. His middle son is in college working on a degree in animal science. And his youngest son is still in high school and exhibits swine at the county, state and national level, just like Moeller did.

“For our family, one of our vacations of the summer is to go to the Iowa State Fair and exhibit pigs. I not only work in the pork industry, but I feel so passionate about the industry that I take vacation to spend more time in the pork world exhibiting swine. I always tell people that we don't have a boat or a beach that we go to – we have a truck and trailer with five pigs that we take to show at the state fair for our family vacation,” he said.

Continuing the family legacy

“I like to tell people that my family roots go deep in the pork industry, and that's honestly how my parents were able to provide us with a meal on the table every day with the income that they received from the pork industry,” he said.

Moeller majored in animal science and knew this was the right path after working around pigs and seeing how his mom and dad had raised a family while working in the swine industry.

“We had a great childhood. They always provided us with what we needed, and it was a very stable family,” he said. “That intrigued me, knowing that our family made a nice living off pork production and having great experiences growing up in the industry. I guess I never thought twice about staying in the pork industry as I went off to college to get my education.”

Four years after he was out of college, Moeller had the opportunity to purchase his family farm. He realizes not a lot of people get an opportunity like that and feels fortunate he and his wife were in a position to do so.

“I think that strengthened my passion for the industry, knowing I was going to be able to raise my family on the same farm as I did, and as my dad, grandfather and great grandfather did,” he said. “It built a lot of passion in me, knowing what my sons would experience raising pigs, being in 4-H and FFA and the networking of people and families that they would meet. It was a great experience and still is a great experience.”

Career journey

Moeller started his career working in hog procurement for a major pork processing company. Then he decided to move into the production side of the business working in sales.

Having been around pigs since Moeller was five or six years old has been a real advantage in his career. He says he’s seen a lot of changes in the pork industry first-hand, especially in animal husbandry.

“I'm very fortunate to say that pig husbandry skills are second nature to me,” he said. “I grew up with it and now as we're reaching out to other labor resources, I think it's quite clear that animal husbandry skills need to be trained and retrained with ongoing reminders of husbandry best practices. I speak to a lot of college animal science classes, and I tell kids that their husbandry skills are a big advantage and they've got to let employers know they have it and to be proud of it.”

Working in the swine industry today

Continuing the heritage of the swine business has been difficult for some producers amid the recent economic challenges. Moeller said it has always been Zoetis’ approach to find out the root cause of the problem their producers are facing and/or what's keeping them up at night.

“We want to find out what the challenges are and then try to provide either services, programs or products that will help them work through those challenges. There's not a lot of margin in pork production right now, so we're looking for ways for our producers to be more efficient, helping them with value-added services, like Day One Pig Care and providing training to their employees.”

Getting piglets born and nurtured correctly on Day One can help producers increase their number of born live by one to two pigs, which economically can make a big difference on an operation.

“More than anything, I try to listen to producers, be a soundboard and try to help identify pain points and where can we work to cut cost but still remain efficient,” he said. “It comes down to attention to detail; it's often the little things that producers and care givers can do every day that are going to make a difference. We don’t necessarily need to produce five more pigs per sow; we need to deliver 12 healthy piglets and wean 12 healthy pigs. Pig survivability is key.”

“This is a very appropriate time for us to be talking about our heritage. I think everyone needs to be reminded that there's a heritage behind all industries, whether it be steel, gas, beef production or swine production. I'm excited that Zoetis is taking this approach and reaching out to recognize the heritage of the swine industry.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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