Farm Talk

Area Farm & Ranch News

November 14, 2012

Pretty pigs keep Scranton family busy

Parsons, Kansas — There’s lots of color, all with a tint-of-blush to it, at the Pretty Pigs Farm.

“I’ve always really liked pigs. I like them to be colorful, too. All of us are red-haired, so we’ve added Duroc to our breeding program, and most of our hogs have some matching-color to us.”

With obvious enthusiasm, Stephanie Watson talked about the hog operation she and her four children have near Scranton.

“Pigs are easy to manage, so smart, and respect a hot-wire for convenient penning,” continued Watson, whose “day job” is director of Osage County Economic Development.

“We raised every kind of livestock on our Clark family farm in Jewell County, when I was growing up. I had to help milk 10 cows before and after school, but I enjoyed pigs most,” added Watson, a University of Kansas business graduate, with certification in economic development through the Certified Economic Developer Program.

Hogs were part of most farm operations half-a-century or more ago, even considered “mortgage burners,” because of some profitability, when other farm enterprises were not. However, today hog farmers are scarce, other than show-pig-producers, and corporate-hog-factories.

 Watson is an exception. “We have a pasture hog operation that kind of functions as a hobby farm to raise my children in the country like I was,” she clarified. “My disposition requires me to live in the country and have pigs.”

Eight years ago, Watson purchased a 12-acre Osage County tract with homestead and mostly wooded, shaded, rocky terrain. “The hogs are my own personal excavation team,” she inserted. “We’ve even sold some of the beautiful rocks that the hogs routed up.”

After researching pasture hog management, Watson delved into production. “We started with York-Hamp crosses, but then added Durocs for the red. I like their floppy ears, too,” she related. “I’m sure not the typical farmer. I want to have multi-colored hogs.

“Some of the pigs went to 4-H participants this year and did quite well,” Watson proudly claimed.

Sixteen sows are mated for twice-annual farrowing: December and June. “ We have York-Duroc and Hampshire boars used in rotational pen mating,” Watson described.

Considering constructing one farrowing facility, Watson opted for “hog huts,” which she built personally after seeking “farm management” advice.

Every hog on the farm has a personal name. “I tend to name some of my pigs after people I know. We have Honey, Norman, Phil, even Aunt B, who likes to adopt orphans.

 “Our pigs are like dogs, just calm and gentle. That makes it nice at farrowing time,” Watson said. “Sows in farrowing crates can become mean, but we never have that problem.”

Admitting it’s “necessary to keep an eye on the sows at farrowing time,” Watson said, “We only lost three pigs out of 79 born in our summer farrowing.” Three sows did not get bred, due to heat stress.

Feeding a ration of two-thirds corn, and one-third grain sorghum, with added molasses, Watson said, “I support local farmers and depend on them for our grain.

 “We produce bumper crops of turnips, and raise pumpkins and squash for supplement feedstuff,” she added.

Even more unique to the operation is that hogs are fed goats milk. “That makes the meat more-tender,” Watson declared.

 “We haven’t had any trouble selling our pigs,” she emphasized. “We’ve never taken any to the sale barn.

“They’re sold by word of mouth, and because of our natural-production, we can get more for them,” Watson added.

Sometimes, pigs are merchandized as weanlings, but Watson has found strong demand for pork-in-the-freezer.

“I deliver a hog to the locker plant, where the buyer wants it butchered, depending on the processing,” Watson said. “Sometimes, they only want half a hog, and I’ll keep the other half for our family, or find another buyer for it.”

A hog farm is the perfect place to raise her family, according to Watson. “Children can blow off washing dishes, or dusting the house, but if there is a pig that needs feed or water, the children know it’s their responsibility to take care of them,” she insisted.

 “All of my children like livestock, but they do have different interests,” Watson said.

Sarah, 18, Allen County Community College student, likes horses, being described as “a true equestrian; she showed horses in 4-H.”

Watson related: “We have five horses, and all like to ride.”

Mandy, 16, Santa Fe Trail sophomore, is the “gardener and goat milker.”

Spencer, 12, is home-schooled, especially likes hogs, and often gets called for those chores, as does Cayden, eight, Santa Fe Trail elementary student, who “raises rabbits for sale, 4-H projects and the dinner table.”

 “I checked the futures market, and hogs are up. I’m excited for this year’s spring crop,” Watson analyzed.

Never a dull moment in work, play or color at Pretty Pigs Farm.£

1
Text Only
Area Farm & Ranch News
  • Farm bill brings questions for producers

    As a professor in Kansas State University's Department of Agricultural Economics, Art Barnaby has given countless presentations and fielded even more questions about managing risk over the years. And the questions continue as details of the new farm bill unfold.

    April 15, 2014

  • sericea.jpg Controlling weeds and brush in pastures

    I’ve always wondered about the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. That may be true, but what about the weeds and brush on that side of the fence, are they greener too? Spring has arrived, and along with it, the time has come to start thinking about weed and brush control in our range and pasture land.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • PEDV concerns send futures soaring

    Uncertainty surrounding total swine herd losses to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has sent lean hog futures for spring and summer contracts to record-high levels, but it's possible the markets have overreacted, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says.
    PEDV is a virus of swine that is fatal to nearly 100 percent of infected piglets that are less than 2 weeks old. There is no vaccination or treatment for the disease, which poses no threat to human health or food safety.

    March 25, 2014

  • PED virus spreading rapidly on Missouri farms

    A fast-spreading virus that can kill 80 percent of piglets that contract it is rapidly spreading across Missouri hog farms, wiping out entire nurseries in some cases.
    Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed 4 million to 5 million pigs nationwide, or about 4 percent of the pigs that would go to market later this year.

    March 18, 2014

  • Invasive species conference set March 25, OKC

    We have all had unwanted and even uninvited guests overstay their welcome in our homes. That anxious feeling of wanting those people to leave without knowing how to ask is all too familiar.
    It is a similar feeling many property owners in Oklahoma are experiencing with invasive species of insects, plants and animals. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is hosting the Oklahoma Invasive Species Conference March 25 to discuss this issue.

    March 11, 2014

  • Debbie_Blythe2.jpg Morris Co. woman advocates for agriculture

    When Debbie Lyons-Blythe tells her story, there’s no question about authenticity — she is a cattlewoman-farm mom.
    And, she’s the 2012 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year.
    The White City, Kan., farm advocate kept 210 attendees’ complete attention during the 580 WIBW Farm Profit Conference last week at Paxico.

    March 4, 2014 2 Photos

  • soybean-auger.jpg Check tax laws on deferred grain sales

    Grain producers using a calendar tax year and the cash method of accounting often use deferred payment contracts to defer payment of grain sales into the following tax year.

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Manure Expo to be held in Springfield

    The North American Manure Expo has always been about showcasing manure management and application equipment and educating farmers and custom applicators on managing and applying manure. Now it’s time for manufacturers to show-off their equipment and latest inventions in the Show-Me State.

    February 18, 2014

  • MU-Eldon-Cole.jpg Eldon Cole honored for 50 years with Extension

    Back in 1964, Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight championship, the first Ford Mustang came off the assembly line, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and Eldon Cole began his career with University of Missouri Extension.

    February 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheep and lamb inventory down 2%

    All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2014, totaled 5.21 million head, down two percent from 2013. Breeding sheep inventory decreased to 3.88 million head on January 1, 2014, down two percent from 3.98 million head on January 1, 2013.

    February 4, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content