Virtual Niche Farm Tours

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Dave Stender
Swine Field Specialist
Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

pastured porkNiche pork production is an option for smaller pork producer that are looking for a premium price for their market hogs.   Typical niche systems alter the way they raise pigs to meet the demand of certain consumer groups.  Niche markets differentiate their products through a variety of methods such as: farrow in pens; limit the feeding of anti-microbials; allow outdoor access or develop a special breed characteristic.  

Because of bio-security sensitivity on pig farms, it is difficult for niche producers to see the various methods of producing pigs for a niche market on other farms.  To solve this problem we are using phone and computer to host virtual farm tours this winter.

This promises to be a great way to conveniently connect with niche pork producers and see how they are managing their operation.  Different farmers present a picture tour of their operations and discuss technologies, ideas and strategies use.  Check out the new and innovative techniques and ideas.
The tours can be found online at:

Participants will view a common set of images of each farm. These images and accompanying materials will be mailed out or available to download ahead of time, and they will also be available on-line during the calls.

Host farmers will describe the images, and you will be able to discuss the pros and cons of options with your peers and University Swine Specialists.  This type of peer-to-peer learning through shared experiences will deepen your knowledge on effective niche pork production techniques.

Separate informational discussions will be a part of each farm tour including such topics as:

•    keeping baby pigs alive/pre-weaning sow comfort
•    setting up for artificial insemination
•    finding alternative feeds
•    basics of ventilation
•    remodeling conventional facilities for niche production
•    basic principles of successful reproduction
•    cost effective feeding of sows for max performance
•    using records to make informed decisions

For more information call Dave Stender at (712) 225-6196; cell (712) 261-0225 or email

Date of Publication: 
March, 2016