Can bringing back hogs to farms all across Iowa change agriculture for the better?
Every farmer had hogs. Multiple sows on each farm could birth 7-8 piglets twice a year. Grain and other feedstuffs were brought from the fields to the hogs and the grain “walked off the farm”. This saying is one of my favorites. Essentially, farmers have known for a long time that it's best to have their grain kept on the farm and turned into meat, milk, and eggs. It closes the supply loop, eliminates trucking costs, keeps the nutrients on the farm by way of manure, and value-adds the product bringing a small premium.
Farmers kept a few back for themselves too. The meat was often stocked in town at their meat locker, the fat was rendered for lard, soap and candles. Our fascination with smoking meat didn’t begin with Texas BBQ and fancy Traegers in every Home Depot. It started with custom built sheds out back that hung raw bellies and pork shoulders, cured with salt, small fires, and plenty of smoke.
As we look to bring back this bedrock of Iowa agriculture, we likely will bring back the youth. It’s an easy entry for young men and women. Hogs don’t need a lot of maintenance, fencing, infrastructure or big investments. Hogs also can value-add all of the organic grain and feedstuff and once again get back to “walking grain off the farm”. It seems those “old timers” might just know a thing or too about farming…we would be smart to listen.