Celebrate sustainable swine this Porktober
Earlier this month, two of my favorite things crossed over:
Cyclones athletics and pork.
Now, you don’t have to tell me twice to “Purchase Moore Hamman Bacon.”
Pork is a staple in our household because of its versatility. It helps my kids eat it without complaints, so it’s an easy way to give them the vitamins and minerals that boost their daycare-attending immune systems.
I also feel confident serving pork to my family because the pig farmers I know put animal care and sustainability at the forefront of everything they do. And those efforts are seeing real results.
Pork is low in greenhouse gas emissions
Since the 1990s, U.S. pork production increased by 80% while per-unit emissions decreased by 25%. Simply put, today’s farmers provide way more pork with less environmental impact.
This efficiency is attributed to genetic advancements and on-farm technology that have improved animal health.
Inside climate-controlled barns, pigs are unaffected by a blizzard or a heatwave outside. They stay comfortable with the exact temperature they need to thrive at each stage of life.
Similarly, automated feeders and watering systems provide animals with the nutrients and refreshments for proper growth. This automation reduces waste of resources and allows farmers to dial-in a pig’s diet.
And farmers will be the first to tell you their pigs meet nutritional requirements better than most people. (So honestly, telling someone they eat like a pig could be a compliment.)
Using sensors, ID tags and digital records, farmers closely monitor each pig to ensure their optimal health—much like we record our wellness goals with watches and apps.
Animal care and sustainability go hand-in-hand
While technology aids animal care, it cannot replace a farmer’s dedication to his or her animals.
Farmers walk through their barns every day to observe animal behavior and provide individual care when needed.
Through continuing education, farmers keep up to date on the latest research in animal handling and how to best create a stress-free living environment.
They also take precautions when it comes to biosecurity—a set of practices that reduce disease risk to their herd. This includes keeping a pig’s living space, equipment and farm trucks clean. Farm visitors who may unknowingly be carrying diseases are limited or often required to shower before entering or leaving a barn.
All these actions result in fewer animal losses which means more efficient use of resources to boost more sustainability per pound of pork. And it’s simply the right thing to do for the pigs, planet and the people who place their trust in farmers.
Pigs contribute to soil health
Another way pig farms promote sustainability happens on the back end—er, or out the back end.
Much of Iowa’s corn is fed to livestock. Manure provides a homegrown, organic fertilizer that is injected 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface to help these crops grow. Science shows livestock manure improves soil fertility by feeding microbial life below ground.
When soils are heathier, they have better structure to lock in water and nutrients. This prevents those nutrients from entering nearby streams and ensures they remain where farmers want them most—in the field.
Additionally, farmers plant trees around barns to reduce livestock odors, like manure. These green giants function as natural filters to mitigate dust and reduce energy usage by providing shade and protection from winter weather. Plus, trees sink carbon and add natural beauty to the landscape.
So, if you weren’t already convinced by a viral message to up the ante on your pork purchases, hopefully understanding the unwavering commitment of Iowa’s pig farmers does the trick. This Porktober, don’t just bring home the bacon but have confidence it was raised with animal care and sustainability in mind.
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