The Letterman family and MKL Show Pigs find success
NIANGUA, MO. – Tucked in the hills of Webster County’s green pasture is the Letterman family. More than one household can be found on the nearly 200 acres of land that has been in the family for generations.
The land is nearing its time to be qualified as a century farm. The Lettermans are continuing in the family farming tradition, following in the footsteps of Andrew and Robbie Letterman’s grandfather, Boyd Letterman.
Andrew and is his wife Cathrin, along with their children Kaden Roberts and Lilly Letterman, breed and show crossbred Hampshire and Yorkshire pigs. Across the pasture and over the hill are Andrew’s brother and sister-in-law Robbie and Ashlee Letterman and their three children, Carter, Adalee and Brinlee. Robbie and Ashlee work a lot with cattle, yet the two farms conjoin land, interests, farm and show duties between the families’ children.
Andrew and Cathrin began MKL Show Pigs in 2015.
Andrew has been showing pigs since he was a child, and Andrew and Cathrin’s children began showing in 2010.
“The kids have been showing pigs since they could walk,” Cathrin said.
Andrew said he’s loved, “the black and white pigs” (the Hampshires), since he was a kid, so naturally, that’s one of the breeds they have on the farm and one the kids enjoy showing as well.
What Cathrin likes about that particular breed is how good-natured they are.
“They’re built well, and while it is possible, it’s hard to get a bad Hampshire. It’s also one of the most competitive breeds along with the Yorkshire,” she said.
For that reason, MKL Show Pigs deals primarily with crossbred, Hampshire and Yorkshire breeds.
The family meddles with Duroc as well. Andrew and Cathrin’s niece, 8-year-old Brinlee, showed a Duroc this show season. The family Yorkshire gilt named Elenore won reserved grand champion at the Missouri State Fair, but she’s been put into a happy retirement in the pig barn for the season.
MKL’s breeding program consists mostly of AI. It’s an operation they take seriously. Ultimately, Andrew said their goal is to breed and raise show pigs, and their focus in the future will be selling to other breeders. If all goes well with the MKL’s breeding endeavors this fall, they’re planning on having pigs ready in the spring of 2022 to sell and for the kids to show at Laclede, Dallas and other county fairs.
Cathrin and Andrew discussed the immense effort and time it takes to care for the animals, and the time to load up the family and travel to the many shows they compete in each year. Yet, the couple also says it is a blessing to spend so much time together as a family.
“It’s a big family effort, and it does take a team,” Cathrin said. “It’s also a great way to keep the children busy while also creating a strong work ethic.”
The two families manage to intermingle the children’s farm responsibilities and show efforts. While Andrew and Cathrin handle the pig side of the farm, Robbie and Ashlee do most of the work with steers, and in recent years the family has been showing steers as part of Letterman Feed.
“We’re looking forward to being able to show steers, to sell show pigs, and eventually retire,” Cathrin said.
And as for the children currently working on the farm, they’re looking forward to continuing on the farming tradition.