Scott County pig production unit's open house draws over 1,000
MORLEY, Mo. -- Over 1,000 people took advantage Thursday of the public open house of the new Scott County pig production unit before it's filled next month.
Attendees were able to tour Delta Gilts located on 400 Pig Alley Road, just off Highway 91 near Morley. The purpose of the sow (adult females) farm is to produce high-quality, weaned pigs and weaned replacement gilts (young females) to supply family pork producers located in the Midwest.
"Our main goal in having this open house is letting everybody see it," said Patrick Hulshof of Benton, owner/shareholder of Delta Gilts. "We've got nothing to hide here. This isn't grandpa's old hog barn; this is modern, high-investment, high-dollar production, and everything that's done here is done with research and science -- and it's a serious commitment to doing it the right way."
Approximate cost of the project is $17 million -- $13 million for real estate and construction and $4 million for the animals.
The Scott County farm, which is managed by Pipestone System of Pipestone, Minn., will deliver 145,000 pigs annually to its family farmer owners. Gilts will be sold for reproduction; barrows (male pig castrated before maturity) for butchering. Nearly 19 million pounds of pork retail cuts will reach the kitchen table from the farm, and the farm will provide pork meals for 305,000 people every year.
The serious commitment and thoroughness is what impressed shareholders with the Pipestone System, Hulshof said.
"This is a very intense operation, and we pay attention to every little detail to make the animals and the people happy and healthy," said Sylvia Wolters, director of public relations and special projects for Pipestone System.
Also, once the facility is populated with pigs, it cannot have visitors inside due to health reasons, Wolters said.
"So we took this opportunity to share and be very transparent about how we raise pigs and how this process works," Wolters said of Thursday's open house.
The stocking date for the facility is expected to be in mid-June.
"I just want to thank the community and the area here," Wolters said. "They have been very supportive, very welcoming and helpful in the whole process it takes in permitting and all the things it takes to have one of these facilities come in."
Walters said she hopes area residents will feel the passion they have for raising pigs and caring for animals.
"I want people to understand and know this facility is owned by family farmers," Wolters said. "Pipestone is not the owner of this farm. Owners of this live and work on their own farms, and they have entrusted us to take care of their production."
The ancillary economic impact this farm will contribute is $6.2 in economic input, Wolters said. This includes $50,000 of local real estate taxes paid annually; $1.3 million in feed purchased annually; and $200,000 of manure nutrients provided annually.
With a $1 million employees' payroll and benefits annually, the facility will employ 15 full-time employees and four to six part-time employees. The staff will include specialized trained birthing assistants.
Farmers, agriculture workers and community members who attended Thursday toured the operation, which is comprised of six buildings: 4,496 individual maternity pens; 1,020 farrowing pens; 330 nursery spaces; and 1,650 gilt development spaces.
There are 21 rooms of 54 farrowing (act of giving birth to a litter of pigs) pens, and piglets are weaned after 21 days. The average number of pigs weaned per litter is 12.5 with a range of 10.5 to 15.
Former hog producers Denise Essner and her mother, Liz Aufdenburg of Burfordville. heard about the open house on the radio.
"Having the hog farm growing up, we wanted to see what they were going to do on the large-scale," Essner said.
Delta Gilts' state-of-the-art facility is something this area has never seen, Essner said.
"Even for us that's been in the hog business, it's very overwhelming -- size-wise -- compared to what we had with our 100 sows," Aufdenburg said.
The mother and daughter said they enjoyed learning about the facility.
"What I thought was neat was the basic principles as far as the farrowing and raising the pigs are the same that the small people do. The basic concept is still there; it's just large-scale," Essner said.
Donnie Kiefer, second district commissioner for Scott County, was on hand for the occasion. He said he was proud Scott County was picked as the site for the operation.
"I feel lucky to have them here and I hope for success," he said.
Scott County Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said the economic impact the county will see is going to be big.
"The economic impact this is going to have on Scott County is going to be able to be measured because of the size of the facility," Burger said. "The economic impact it's going to have on our agriculture community by using 180,000 bushels of local corn per year and 750 tons of soybean meal -- which is all going to be grown locally-- is going to be supplied to a feeder somewhere within in our close area."
Jobs will be created outside of the people who work at the facility, he said, noting the estimated annual utility needs will be $140,000 for electrical use and $40,000 for propane use.
"When we think about raising quality pork right here in our own backyard every time we sit out back on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and think about how those pork steaks we're grilling are coming from here -- that's big," Burger said.
Burger said he was even more impressed after touring the facility on Thursday.
"Every bit of this facility is going to be big for us in Scott County," Burger said. "We're excited. We're glad they chose us. We're glad they're here."