Published Feb 18, 2014

Making Niche Pork Work for You at Any Scale

By Practical Farmers of Iowa

Iowa farmers have fattened hogs on abundant grain from their farms for generations, and opportunities abound for direct-to-consumer and wholesale niche pork. Hear how other farmers have made niche pork work for them, explore how you can get started and learn about new growth opportunities in niche pork production.

  • Beginning livestock farmers Ethan and Becca Book bought a 40-acre farm in the rolling hills of Marion County near Knoxville, Iowa, where they started grazing livestock and finishing hogs raised outside. They currently have 12 cow-calf pairs, about 40 hair sheep and poultry. They direct-market about 100 head of Hereford hogs each year to families in central Iowa under their own “Crooked Gap Farm” brand, selling by the cut as well as whole and half animals.
  • Kate Edwards is a beginning farmer in her fourth year of farming who operates Wild Woods Farm near Solon, Iowa. Her primary market is a vegetable CSA with more than 100 members. A participant in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program, Kate plans to incrementally increase the amount of land in cultivation to serve her expanding customer base. She also wants to add new enterprises to her farm, including hogs, and is curious about the knowledge and planning needed to successfully fit hogs into her existing farm.
  • Philip Kramer grew up on a northwest Iowa farm that farrow-to-finished about 75 sows and grew 300 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats. His family farm was one of the first in Iowa to market with Niman Ranch Pork Division. Phil lives near Algona, Iowa, where he works for Niman Ranch as regional field agent and helps recruit more farmers to its production and marketing system. Phil also has a beginning farm of his own where he currently manages about 15 sows and gilts, all the Hereford breed.