Polk County hog producers remain steady in the market placeKenny and Dawn Jones live near Polk, Mo., in Polk County. Married nearly 30 years, Kenny grew up just down the road. He built their house in a hog pen, although you couldn’t tell it today.
Kenny ventured into the hog business as a freshman in high school in 1970. “It was an FFA project,” he explained. “My dad raised hogs and I started with four gilts that I bought from my dad. I’ve raised hogs ever since. I eventually got more and more. We had up to 100 sows at one time.”
The hog business has changed over the years. Kenny said, “In 1974, I was selling hogs at the stockyard for $64.75 a hundred, and corn was around $1.50 a bushel. Hogs have never been that high again. I was just a kid and making a lot of money.”
Every business has its obstacles, and many hog farmers have thrown in the towel. Kenny explained, “Right now the corn market is the biggest challenge. The economics of it is really why everybody’s gotten out of the hog business. That’s one of the big reasons.” He added, “Plus, there’s not a good available market. We’ve just kind of made our own market by selling to individuals. We also take hogs to a buying station at Walker, Mo., which is near Nevada, and they go to Farmland. An hour and a half away is the closest market.” Besides the distance, you have to be PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) certified, which the farm is.
Kenny and Dawn have 200 market hogs ranging in size from small pigs to hogs ready for market. They have 25 sows and one boar. In addition to the hogs, they have around 50 Angus/Gelbvieh cross cows.
Their hogs are Yorkshire/Hampshire cross and they do “farrow to finish,” Kenny said. He prefers the Yorkshire for its mothering ability and added, “The York/Hamp cross is just good meat quality.” The hogs are sold when they are about six months old and weigh between 250 and 280 pounds.
Cutting costs is on everyone’s minds these days, but it is difficult. Kenny has tried cheaper feed, but says corn is the best. He feeds the hogs corn and soybean meal. “We grind and mix our own feed, which saves money,” Kenny said. “I buy corn by the semi load and I buy it at harvest time. That makes a lot of difference. I buy from nearby farms. That’s probably the most important thing you can do to save money. I contract all of my protein twice a year. I lock in a price, so I’m not quite as subject to the ups and downs as some people.”
Another way to save money on the hog farm is to “do a better job of raising them; not lose any,” Kenny stated. He explained, “You have to take good care of them. If they’re born, you have to raise them. If they have trouble, you’re going to lose half of them to disease. But I don’t have anything like that or have any problems because I know how to take care of them. You have to raise everything you’ve got money in; raise and sell them.”
Kenny Jones doesn’t recommend jumping into the business whole hog without doing your research. “The hog business has kind of gone away. We’ve just found a way to survive.”


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