Developing and Implementing a Niche Market Approach to the Pork Industry

Jay Harmon, extension agricultural engineer

Producers are looking for profit advantages with the slim margins they currently have in pork production. Some producers have exited the industry while others are interested in developing and implementing a niche market approach to the industry.


A two-fold approach was taken to educate producers about opportunities currently available to them. First, Paul Willis, of Niman Ranch Meats, was invited to discuss what Niman Ranch Meats has available to offer producers. Niman Ranch has developed a consumer-driven market for swine that is based on humane treatment, quality meat, no antibiotics, and no growth-promotants.

The second approach was to include scientific information on producing swine in hoop buildings. Jay Harmon, Iowa State University Extension (ISUE) Agricultural Engineer, was enlisted to present information currently available on this topic. This presentation was pertinent to the above topic as Niman Ranch encourages producers to raise swine in bedded type systems.

Participation in the event was excellent with 52 people in attendance. Paul Willis explained to producers what was necessary to meet Niman Ranch Meats standards. He met with interested producers privately after the meeting to discuss specific needs of their operations. Jay Harmon presented various updates for hoop building production of swine including: alternative farrowing systems during cold weather, hoop finishing-three year summary, hoop finishing stocking density, oats-based diets in deep bedded hoop barns, and gestation comparison.

Producer interest, especially in hoop building production, was very high. Currently, a round-table discussion meeting is being planned. This meeting will allow producers to compare notes of how to manage a hoop building.


Page last updated: July 2, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,