A Cowboy’s Faith: Demand despite industry changes – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Demand despite industry changes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Hogs are mortgage lifters for farmers.”

That philosophy commonplace in agriculture for decades has changed. The fact came to mind during a hog show at the county fair.

Most farming operations included hog production for many years. It was because hogs generally earned some profit when other aspects of agriculture were losing money.

Nearly every farm had hogs, chickens and milk cows in the first half of the previous century. While poultry and dairy became specialized quicker, hogs remained on many farms longer. Now they’re much fewer and farther between.

Even if there weren’t larger numbers, many farmers kept a few sows to raise pigs. They’d either sell them as feeders or finish to market weight. Others specialized in buying and growing the pigs, perhaps considered easier than farrowing.

Hog enterprises appeared so enhancive in the final quarter of the previous century that many farmers built elaborate facilities. Some reaped good profits for several years. Others soon found demands to produce pigs’ profitability far less glamorous than those selling buildings claimed.

The industry’s changed completely. Vast majority of pork today is produced by “corporate hog factories.” Similarities to any other workplace except caring for live animals from mating through dinner plate. Well almost, as processing is still separate entity for most hog production.

Not unlike the majority, hogs helped pay this agriculture operation’s bills for years. Repeating a story, Mom insisted hogs were necessary to pay for horse upkeep.

First it was a couple sows, then feeders, then even a regulated garbage-feeding operation for a half decade. Just the thought creates a stinky, ugh cringe.

Few farmers have any type of hog operation today. Yet, there remains some family hog production limited to raising show pigs. That’s even big business for certain adorers of such unique aspects of agriculture.

Although shy from peak times, county fair hog show entries remain stable to strong. That’s compared to some other species. Stringency of competition must be at record high as verified by evaluators at two events in recent days.

Runts, razorbacks, and fat hogs uncommon as pigs changed, too. Finish weight is considerably higher with less tallow and higher percentage of that “other white meat.” Most people still like bacon, ham and sausage.

Reminded of Daniel 2:22: “He changes the seasons and guides, providing both intelligence and discernment.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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