Why Do Pigs Have Notches in Their Ears?

Have you ever considered why pigs have notches in their rather than have an ear tag? Well I have the answers! First of all, ear notching is used to tell you what litter the pigs are from and individually which pig it is. The pig’s right ear shows the litter number. The pig’s left ear shows the individual identification in its litter.

ear notch

People ear notch pigs for a way to have a permanent ID for each pig because it is inexpensive, other pigs can’t chew on the ear tag, and it never falls out like an ear tag would. You ear notch a pig when they are one to three days old. When you are ear notching them you want to make sure to leave ¼ inch between notches to make sure that you can easily read the notch. You also want to make sure you make the notch deep enough in that it will not grow shut. You need to make sure that you don’t notch their ear too deep because that could cause their ear to be torn.

ear notch2Now pigs can have ear tags too. For instance, when I take my pigs to the fair they receive an ear tag that way they don’t become confused of who’s is who’s in the show ring.  They are still ear notched though.

Ear notching is a great way to permanently mark each pig that way farmers can identify them. I hope your questions have been answered of why pigs are ear notched rather than have an ear tag. Now you can identify a pig

Victoria Talcott bio pic

How to Raise Show Pigs

pigs-cheyenne2This little stinker was a little over a week old at the time of this picture. This is the best time to do things like notch the pigs ears for identification, give the pig some iron and penicillin to help fight against all the infections that these little guys are very susceptible to, castrate the boars, or males, so they are less aggressive in adulthood, and clip their needle teeth which also help stop the spread of infection! Theses are some things that animal rights organizations would have us skip out on. But because my conventional farm goes through these essential procedures these little piglets are given the best possible chance to thrive and live happily! About 5 months ago I named this cutie Rudy.

Fast forward about 5 months and we have some awesome perspective on the life of a show pig! This is Rudy, the baby pig from five months ago that we just got done “processing.” That means that we notched his ears, vaccinated him, docked his tail, and castrated him. All of these things serve a purpose, and if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them!

If we fast forward Rudy’s life about 4 weeks later, we’re vaccinating him again just to keep him healthy and then moving him to a new facility on our farm called the nursery. This process is called weaning. At the point of weaning, young piglets are still drinking their mother’s milk, but their main source of food comes from a starter feed.

About three months later we bring Rudy into our show barn. Our show barn, like the majority across the state of Nebraska, is kept at a very nice and cool temperature no matter how hot it is outside. My sister and I clean all our show pigs’ pens at least once a week and feed them twice a day. At this point in time, Rudy is on a 16%-18% protein feed, which is insuring his efficiency. Our state fair hogs get walked between 3 to 4 times a week, so that when we take them to state fair they’re comfortable in the ring.

pigs-cheyenneAt state fair during showmanship, I was asked what was the biggest problem in the swine industry today. I thought about the Chinese pork industries growing bigger and bigger every year, I thought about the PED virus, but out of these problem I know where the real problem lies. Advocacy. Companies and organizations like Chipotle and HSUS are using their networks to ruin the reputation of all aspects of agriculture, notably the swine industry. If we don’t tell the consume what is going on on our farms, we will lose the consumer. The world that we’re living in today is desperate for information, even if it’s cheap. The cheap information that they’re buying into are the stories that HSUS and PETA are giving them. I know the relationship between the farmer and the consumer needs some help. I also know the relationship between the animals in their care and the producer is completely different than what it is perceived to be. The consumer should know what is going on in the barn or in the field, and as a youth ag advocate, it is my job tell them.

Since attending the Agricultural Issues Academy at State FFA Convention last year, I’ve started my own blog. Ag Issues Academy opened my eyes to the miscommunication that is happening not only global, but right in my town and state. The link to my blog is listed below if you’re interested in what my farm looks like and its relationship with our animals.

Read more from Cheyenne here: https://youthagricultureadvocates.wordpress.com/

Cheyenne Gerlach bio pic

Hearty Lentil Ham Soup

Hearty Lentil Ham SoupIngredients
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 cups water
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained or 1 qt. home canned tomatoes
¾ cup dry lentils, rinsed
¾ cup pearl barley
1 meaty leftover ham bone or 2 ham hocks
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules or 2 cubes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese, optional

 

Directions
1.   In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, saute the celery, onion, and garlic in butter until tender.
2.   Add water, tomatoes, lentils, barley, ham, bouillon,  herbs, and pepper; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Lentils and barley should be tender.
3.   Add carrots; simmer for 15-30 minutes, until carrots are tender.
4.   Remove ham bone/ham hocks from soup; remove meat from the bones and return it to the soup.
5.   May be served with a sprinkling of cheese in each bowl.

Yield:  8-10 servings

Dairy and Bacon Prices Down, Apples Too

Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

CS15_128 Fall Harvest Marketbasket SurveyThe following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
  • bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
  • flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
  • bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
  • vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
  • ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

 

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

Breakfast Bacon And Maple Meatballs

a5 Recipes- Breakfast Bacon & Maple MeatballsIngredients
1 lb. breakfast sausage (no sugar added)
1 medium sweet potato
4 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
½ yellow onion, coarsely chopped (approx. ½ cup)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
5-6 slices of bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375º.
2. Fry/cook bacon until crisp. Drain, cool, and crumble.
3. Place sweet potato in food processor with shredding attachment. Shred. Remove sweet potato shreds. Replace shredding attachment with chopping blade.

4. Place shredded sweet potatoes, onion, mushrooms, and minced garlic in food processor and chop together. You want the sweet potatoes fairly fine.
5. In large bowl, combine sausage with all other ingredients.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop for uniformity, scoop out meat mixture and roll into balls using your hands. Place meatballs on baking sheet.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until meatballs are golden brown and completely cooked through.
8. Serve immediately with favorite breakfast accompaniments.

 

Improving Zoning Laws in Nebraska for Livestock Operations

Livestock farmers seeking to expand or start new livestock operations and the county officials tasked with approving them would both benefit from changes to the local permitting process as proposed in legislation introduced in Nebraska. Livestock farmers and county officials have long recognized the importance of livestock agriculture, but establishing clarity for both parties in the local approval process hasn’t always been easy.

“Livestock farming is a huge part of Nebraska agriculture. It’s critical that we have processes in place that works for farmers seeking local approval and for county officials who are charged with representing the interests of the county. Sen. Watermeier’s bill is a step in the right direction to giving both sides greater clarity in the process,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau first vice-president and a pork producer from Central City.   See how livestock zoning as affected Mark’s operation in the video below.

What Pork Shortage, Chipotle?

Well, Chipotle is at it again. They announced they are experiencing a pork shortage because one of their suppliers violated their housing agreement for pigs. The company demands its suppliers raise pigs in “humane conditions with access to the outdoors, rather than in cramped pens.” With that producer’s violation, Chipotle is now refusing to buy their pork, which means no carnitas for customers at more than 1700 locations across the country, including restaurants in Nebraska. But guess what?! THERE IS NO PORK SHORTAGE!

Thousands upon thousands of perfectly healthy and happy pigs are being raised right here in Nebraska in barns like this.

IMG_0088

Plenty of room here!

Now of course Chipotle wants you to believe pigs are better off outside, but that simply doesn’t mean a better pork product. That’s why farms utilize nutrition, health care, genetics and just plain proper management. Winter is cruel to any animal, especially pigs. Frostbitten ears and noses, pneumonia, frozen water source, the list goes on and on. The indoor facilities not only provide more than enough space, but they use the latest technology to control temperature, humility and air quality. And the pigs are automatically feed and receive plenty of water. While we brave the 20 below winter, the pigs are sitting pretty at 70 degree every day.

You ask why would Chipotle insist free-range is better? It’s all about marketing. The public is so far removed from agriculture they still picture the farmer of the 40’s.

And Chipotle cashes in.farmer tech

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But guess what?! Farming has come a long way and to keep up with demand, farmers have to adapt, use new technologies and embrace a better way of doing things.

In the end it comes down to choice. Chipotle is choosing not to serve “conventionally raised” pork and you and I can choose to get our burrito somewhere else.

 

Blog Bio Pic with Color