Program helps hog producers be more efficient

US - Baby pigs romp across the grassy slopes under the watchful eyes of their mothers, ducking in and out of the huts lining the landscape of Ron Mardesen's southwest Iowa farm. Mardesen, who farms near here in Cass County, runs a farrow-to-finish operation and supplies pigs to Niman Ranch Pork. He has been farrowing sows outdoors since 1986 and has been affiliated with Niman Ranch since 2001.
calendar icon 27 October 2006
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Mardesen is also a field agent for Niman Ranch, working with 75 producers in western Iowa and southwest Minnesota. “It's been a very good program for us,” he says. “We farm 120 acres with 90 active huts. The rest of the sows farrow in and around the buildings, in huts and without crates of any kind.”

Mardesen averages 7.76 pigs raised per litter with 9.12 pigs born alive. He says that average includes sows exposed to boars but do not farrow. “We're pretty happy with that figure,” he says.

But, like most producers, Mardesen is always looking to make his operation more efficient and profitable. He is one of several producers working with Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Pork Industry Center in a project designed to integrate research, education and outreach for niche pork production.

Source: Livestock Roundup

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