Farm history

Hogs Provide the Spark

Written by Nick Wallace
2 Minute Read
Published on Dec 06, 2022

Can bringing back hogs to farms all across Iowa change agriculture for the better?

iowa pig farmTo move forward we need to look back. My father recounts his childhood days and the relationship farms once had with hogs on farms all across Iowa. I’m talking about the time period after WW2. Rural America was booming in those days. Lot’s of young, strong labor, diesel powered tractors and fresh iron and steel coming off industrial assembly lines and foundries that had shifted from war to farm models. (Photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa) 


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.

organic pig farm

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.

Join us in connecting with our food once more. Shop our great selection of high-quality pork. Oh - and don't forget! Members get 10% off every order. 

Older Post Newer Post

Meat the way it’s meant to be

Sign up for exclusive deals, juicy recipes, farmer stories & more.
Missing required field

By signing up, you agree to receive marketing emails from 99 Counties at the email address provided. We respect your privacy.