Everyday our day starts with feeding the cattle and pigs at home and feeding and caring for all the sows up at the sow farm. After we feed we will check the newborn baby pigs and process any pigs born (or farrowed ) the day before. Next it is time to breed sows. We artificially inseminate (AI) the sows which are in heat. I will explain some of these tasks as I keep this diary.
Mon. Nov. 1 Animals are taken care for the morning… Boys finished knifing manure today. Every fall we knife in about 200 acres of (soy)bean ground (fields that we just harvested soybeans from) that will be planted to corn next spring. The manure is organic fertilizer for the corn next spring. All our farm ground is grid-sampled so we can pinpoint problem areas. 1,500 sows (mommy pigs) produce a lot of manure. Our sow farm has about 2 million gallons of storage and is pumped every spring and fall. The manure is stored in pits under each gestation and farrowing barn until it is pumped.
One of our main goals here on our farm is to take care of the land so our sons children can farm if they choose to do so….
We bought some calves today. We buy 400-450 pound heifer (female) calves from a sale barn in Hillsboro. We try to buy 100 head to start in each group.
Time to do evening chores now. They include feeding and checking sows and feeding the cattle.
Tues. Nov. 2 Today is Election Day. I am working at the polls. This morning the rest of the family is feeding, breeding and taking care of the baby pigs. Several days of the week we have to grind feed to feed the animals. On Tuesday there is always a lot of sows to breed. The sows that are weaned on Thursday start coming in heat on Monday. Most of them are bred on Tuesday and Wednesday. We always have a few come in heat all week long so we check them every morning of the week. When we breed sows we put a boar (male pig) in a cart and he rides around the barn and the sow that are in heat “stand” and we know to breed her. A plastic rod is inserted in the sow and a bottle of semen is slowly squeezed into the sow. We also have someone haul cull sows to Producers on Tuesday mornings. A cull sow is one which did not breed or a sow that does not have or raise enough pigs. We sell these to use to make sausage. After we eat, the new calves we bought yesterday are vaccinated. Time to start evening chores and check the sows and their babies.
Wed. Nov. 3 After we get done feeding this morning our vet comes to help us castrate pigs on Wednesday mornings. We go through the litters of pigs that are about 1 week old and castrate the male pigs. These are the litters that will be weaned on next Thursday. We do about 70-80 litters a week. The meat will taste and smell strong if this is not done. When done at this age the pigs are right back up running around and nursing right away and are healed in just a couple of days. This afternoon we work on putting a new driveway between the cattle barns and put the manure equipment away until we need it next spring. The boys also sprayed thistles in some waterways out in the fields. We did evening chores and had to bring a load of feed home for the pigs there.
Thurs. Nov. 4 Today is weaning day. We get all of our morning feeding done. A couple of the boys and Andy start to wean pigs. I am checking sows and scraping the farrowing pens. We scrape the manure out of each farrowing pen every morning and night until the sows have farrowed and we also sprinkle a little lime behind each sow. This helps sterilize the area where the pigs will be born. When we wean the pigs we catch them and put them in a cart and roll them out to the trailer and load them on the trailer. The pigs average 20 days old and weigh about 15 pounds. After we have weaned all the litters that are old enough, we take them to another farmer who has a nursery. The nursery is a barn that is kept about 80 degrees so that the baby pigs will stay warm. They have special feed to eat and all the fresh water they want to drink. Most of the time they take off eating and drinking without any problems at all. While we are delivering pigs, the boys move the sows out of the farrowing barn into the gestation barn. The gestation barn is where the sows will be bred and stay until they have pigs again. A pigs gestation period is 114 days. The farrowing barns are then washed with high pressure washers to make sure they are nice and clean for the next group of sows that are due. By the time we get this all done it is time to start feeding for the evening chores.
Fri. Nov. 5 We fed cattle and sows. While we were checking the sows due to farrow, noticed one of the heaters was not working in one of the farrowing rooms. We fixed the bad plug and then it seemed to work fine. All of our farrowing rooms and gestation barn are controlled by computer controls for temperature. It operates the heat in the winter and all the fans in the summer. When it was time to breed sows we discovered the semen cooler was not working. We have a cooler that stays at about 61 degrees to store the semen in. We get it delivered twice a week. It was a little warm but the vet thought it would be ok to use. We had to pen up sows out of the gestation barn that are due in the clean farrowing rooms, and then move more weaned sows to the gestation barn so we can wash the farrowing barn. I had to go to school to help the Edgewood FFA students turning in their sponsorships for Cardboard City. Cardboard City is a community service program that will provide people in the community help for the holiday season and throughout the year. David drove a tractor working ground that we do in the fall, weather permitting. This year has been very good. Harvest was done early and they are getting a lot of their fall field work done. Time to get everything fed and checked for the evening.
Sat. 11/6 After feeding and breeding, etc. we had to pen up some more sows that are due. We are having quite a few litters being born today. Each week it seems Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the days when most of the pigs are born. We have litters born all week long though. We had to grind and unload feed for the farrowing barns. I worked on data entering farrowing cards. Each sow has an eartag with an ID on it. Each sow then will have a farrowing card printed for her when she is due to have pigs. The card is hung on the farrowing pen that she is in. Her information is then written on the cards when she farrows. We keep track of the date she farrows and the number of pigs she has. When her litter is weaned it is recorded on the card also. This creates her history so we can keep track of how well she is doing. The information from the farrowing and weaning is then entered into a computer program. This way we can generate reports to see if there are any areas we need to work on. Each sow’s breeding dates are also entered daily to keep track exactly when she is due. Doug worked on spreading cattle manure in fields here at home. Boys finished up with working ground for this fall. Evening chores are done and hopefully everything tucked in for the night. And we are going out for supper!!
Andy and Rita (Gerber) Beiser along with their three sons, David, Dan and wife Julia, Doug and wife Lindsay and grandaughter Jozie, farm in Butler and Preble Counties. We manage approximately 2,000 acres. The crops we grow include corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. We have lived our entire lives in Butler County and both of us come from farm families. Our sons are 5th generation farmers on the Beiser side of the family. Our family also has a Breed to Wean sow operation. The sow herd consists of 1,500 sows. We also background 600-700 head of calves a year. Rita will be keeping a diary for the month of November.