Monday, July 16, 2012

What An Adventure : Fair Oaks Pig Adventure

So there's a farm in Indiana, a dairy farm, an hour south of Chicago that has decided, "we are going to show the public what we do on a commercial dairy farm, and we will give them tours of our facilities and educate them about the agriculture industry."

This is Fair Oaks Farms and they have done a great job achieving their goal of educating everyday people about the dairy industry. So now for the exciting news, Fair Oaks is expanding, they want to cover as many livestock species as they can to educate consumers more on what the agricultural community and industry is all about. So the first step in expanding is to build a pig barn which will be known as the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure (FOPA)

This facility, located two miles from the Fair Oaks visitors center and dairy education building will be a commercial pork production operation that will operate 2400 sows (mommy pigs). The tours will be given through a building connected to the pig barn by glass walls, ceilings and floors so that you can see everything that happens in the facility.

The reason for the separate building is because it is important that we (producers) protect the airspace within our pig barns so that no foreign disease enters the air, feed or water from all the traffic and locomotion that comes with giving the tours. In order to keep our animals healthy and in tip top condition we create the safe air barrier within the new state of the art barns. Another way to look at it is the first week of school, a lot more children (baby pigs in the case of producers) get sick from all the new people, places and things going on in their lives. So with livestock, we can use these types of safe guards to protect our pigs, employees and ultimately the pork that goes to the supermarkets.

My family has a small (by industry standards of the day) pig farm in Southwest Ohio. We raise pigs as independent owners/growers. That means we own pigs all the way from birth to market. The Fair Oaks Pig Adventure (FOPA) has presented an exciting opportunity for our family to become even more involved in the pig industry. When the barns are built and the pigs start having babies, my family farm, Standing Oaks Enterprises will continue to raise pigs, but we will no longer raise our own from birth. We will be what is called a private grower, we will purchase baby pigs from the Fair Oaks Farm and own them from wean to market.

The pig adventure is a very big, exciting thing for the pork industry. We are looking forward to teaching as many people as we can about the industry. On our farm, the education doesn't just stop at Fair Oaks in Indiana, we are learning how to be better educators and how to get more involved in many ways, one of which I will talk about in my next blog post.

So if you're interested in learning more about the agriculture industry, Fair Oaks Farms, or the Pig Adventure I want to give you some suggestions. My friends at Feedstuffs, one of the top agriculture publications have covered the pig adventure from the beginning of the construction and continue to do so. They have taken some very good photos and written a couple articles about it. I encourage you look at them. Please follow my family farm on either facebook or twitter. If you're excited about the adventure we have all started and want to help, their is a fundraiser being done by Dennis Sargent at Indiana Pork for those interested who might  want to contribute just contact them and they will help you with that.

My reflections in the past few months have started to center around this adventure that my family is going on and its very exciting to us and we really enjoy telling others about it so be looking for more posts about this from me.

Until safe, be healthy and eat pork!