Chris Brust says his farm life 
has improved his mental health. Photo by Michael Kinney.
Photo by Michael Kinney

Chris Brust says his farm life has improved his mental health

BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Chris Brust entered the pig business early in life. When he and his older brother won one in a raffle when he was 12, he had no idea that one day it would lead to the creation of Ozark Acres Farm and have an impact on his mental health. 

“The deal was we had to have one litter of pigs and show that gilt at the county fair. And so that’s how we got started in the pig business back in when I was a kid,” Chris said. “I kept that. (His brother) went off to college. My dad passed away when I was just turned 12, and my mom and I kept that until I was probably 15. I started at a young age with animals on the farm and all that good stuff.” 

However, it took Chris almost 40 years to understand how much he needed the farm. After his father’s death, Chris seemed to be looking to do anything except for what he loved. 

When he was 19, he went into the construction business. That was the start of a long list of different occupations in different fields of business that included real estate and selling mortgages, which he didn’t officially quit doing until 2023. 

“Apparently, there was a lot of trauma going on in my life,” said Chris, who is 55 years old. “It drove me to some anxiety and depression. And my therapy is working outside with my hands. It took me a long time to figure that out. But it finally did, and it started with a garden so I would have something outside the norm to do. Then, when I moved down here, I came back to a garden. Then came the livestock. I decided to buy a couple of pigs to raise for processing and just to have on the farm. I got to thinking, why don’t I just have piglets with them. Our first sow had 14 piglets and saved 13. That’s when we got started in the pig business.” 

Chris Brust's first sow had 14 piglets and he saved 13. That’s when he got started in the pig business. Photo by Michael Kinney.
Photo by Michael Kinney

Since starting the Ozark Acres Farm in 2021, Chris has considerably built up his livestock inventory. On his 4.7 acres of land, he currently has four breeding female pigs, one of which is due next month. He also has a boar, 30 laying chickens and 175 Cornish cross-meat chickens that are going to be processed in late May. 

“The reason I added a boar and two more guilts to my stock was when I started paying for artificial insemination,” Chris said. “And I’m going to start selling feeder pigs. I wasn’t going to do that, but now that I’m going to start selling feeders because there’s a demand for it. And I can have two litters of feeder pigs sold, which will pay my feed bill for a year for all five of my breeding stock. If I can get my breeding stock paid for by selling two litters of feed pigs, then that piece is broke even. The only thing I’m paying for now is the feed costs for feeder pigs that I grow out and process. And that should make its own money back by itself. So, I’m really at a net zero at that point before I start growing out feeder pigs.” 

Chris feeds his livestock conventional pig feed and doesn’t use any non-GMO or organic seed because there has been no demand for it. 

“It’s just all conventional feed,” Chris said. “I buy it in bulk in 2,000-pound bags. I’m paying about 26 cents a pound.” 

When it comes to how large Chris wants to grow, he doesn’t have any particular number in mind. 

“I want to be profitable. Size is relative to that,” Chris said. “Eventually, we’re going to need more space. Right now, I probably don’t for the livestock. I probably don’t even use half of it, to be honest with you. I’ve got some room to expand, but we’ll eventually move into a bigger space. Or I’ll lease some ground. I got some ground earmarked with a neighbor of mine that I might be able to lease and run some animals on it.” 

With the help of his daughter, Cassidy, Chris has become an active member of the TikTok nation and has gained a sizable following of 15,000 in just seven months. Photo by Michael Kinney.
Photo by Michael Kinney

When Chris decided to open up his farm, he wasn’t going to do things like everybody else. Despite his age, he is still open to using any method to help build his business. 

That is why less than a year ago, Chris was introduced to TikTok by a friend.

“One day, he came out, and he brought his young son, and they saw some baby chicks,” Chris recalled. “He goes, ‘Man, you need to get on TikTok.’ I said I’m 54 years old, and I’m not getting on TikTok. ‘You need to be on there.’ And so that’s where it all started.” 

With the help of his daughter, Cassidy, Chris has become an active member of the TikTok nation and has gained a sizable following of 15,000 in just seven months. 

Chris’s content varies, but it is always farm related. In a video posted Feb. 12, 2022, more than 780,000 people watched a chicken jump onto the back of a pig as the Ozark Acres Farm staff loaded them into their traveling pins. Almost 7,000 people pushed the like button on a video that lasted less than 15 seconds. 

Yet, according to Chris, TikTok isn’t even his most popular social media site. The videos on his business Facebook page get even more traffic with his 23,000 followers. 

However, when it comes to making money, Chris relies on the proven old-school ways. 

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” Chris said. “I’m not getting any business from them right now. I’m getting business from my location and word-of-mouth and my local feed store. They’re allowing me to set up like a booth on Saturdays at like a farmers market, where I can actually sell my pork and chicken products.” 

Chris said he will soon be adding beef and other items to his table. 

“I’m kicking around the idea of having some rabbits. People don’t think of rabbits, but you can raise meat rabbits,” Chris said. “I don’t know how much money is in it. But what I look for too is a draw to get people and kids to the farm. If I’ve got bunnies and people can come tour the farm, or I’ve got baby pigs, and people come tour the farm or baby chicks, then that helps me sell my product.” 

More importantly, the farm has become what Chris wanted in his life. 

“I read a book called The Depression Cure, and one of the things it said was to get out and do something out of the norm that you don’t do every day that can become a habit and a hobby and something you enjoy doing,” Chris said. “tTat’s when I started a garden,” Chris said. “So that’s when that all started. I could spend all day on the tractor and building pins and building structures and that type of stuff. I don’t care how much money I make; it just makes me happy.”

Chris Brust sells pork and chicken products at the local farmers market. Photo by Michael Kinney.
Photo by Michael Kinney


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