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NC-SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Project Presentation on Straw Based, Welfare Friendly Growing Unit For Hogs

Paul Sobocinski has a 240 acre diversified farming operation in Western Minnesota, near the town of Wabasso. He has a farrow to finish hog system that produces pigs for Niman Ranch, and a beef cow/calf herd using rotational grazing. Paul also raised corn, beans, alfalfa, grass hay, pasture, oats, wheat, and also has some land in the CRP program. In the 5th year of a CSP contract for rotational grazing, pasture watering system that includes wildlife escape, nitrogen management, resource conservation crop rotation, and cover crops to scavenge nitrogen.

After the hog market collapse of 1998, Paul remodeled an existing raised-crate farrowing barn into a deep-straw farrowing barn. In 2001, he modified an existing pole barn into a deep bedded sow and piglet nursery.

Paul had another older hog confinement facility that was originally slatted floors with liquid manure storage underneath the slats. With the help of a SARE grant and input from engineers, he remodeled the building into a friendlier, more enjoyable environment for both pigs and people. That process is described in this webinar. With the changes, Paul is now able to use the building to raise pigs for Niman Ranch Company. Paul sells pigs to Niman Ranch and is paid a premium for raising them without the use of antibiotics, and using straw bedding.

This presentation is about converting a nursery/ growing confinement building, with a pit, into a deep-bedded growing unit that meets Niman Ranch standards for improved animal welfare, while utilizing existing resources. Following is a link to the presentation: