Mon, 14 June 2021
We talk a lot on this show about how to get started farming right now, even if you don't have the farm that you ultimately see in your dreams. Usually when we speak of this we are talking about marketing some fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. from a back yard operation or possibly something like aquaculture or hydroponics. But, what if you want to raise livestock? Is there anything that you can do on a small piece of ground that would be profitable?
Our guest today, Annie Johnson, is going to talk to us about doing exactly that with pigs. Annie's has a very interesting story that has come full circle. Her grandfather used to raise pigs on their families farm about ten miles away from where she currently lives in Cambridge, Illinois. However, nobody in the family raised a pig for about 20 years until she got started at the age of 14.
The family farm is still there, and that is where Annie raises her pigs. However, the crop ground on the farm is in the CRP program, so it is not being farmed. That means that Annie only had a small piece of ground to be able to begin her livestock enterprise. Pigs were the answer for her, and direct marketing was the business model. Annie has been able to pre-arrange the sale of her pigs to multiple customers, and because of her unique story and the way she is raising them she can charge a premium for her pork.
Through direct marketing, Annie has been able to increase what she receives for her pigs. However, she is being just as innovative on the other end to keep expenses low. Instead of feeding a boar all year long, she is using artificial insemination to breed her sows. There is an old grain cart on the property that can safely hold a lot of pig feed. So, Annie buys feed in bulk and has that cart filled to save money on feed costs, and it works! Annie has also experimented with different breeds and is now raising Duroc's. Her customers prefer the meat, and the Duroc's work be in her operation. So, she is producing a very desirable product through the most efficient means she has at her disposal.
Annie has just graduated high school and has just been awarded a state proficiency for her efforts in pork production. She is going to take all of this experience and knowledge with her to college where she will be studying to be an Ag teacher. When she finishes college, she will bring it all with her to the classroom, and she will be inspiring Ag students for years to come!