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Creating hog heaven

Creating hog heaven
The Vansice family, Stacia, Lilie, Stadan and Jordan, at the opening of their new hog barn in Jasper County.

They call it Hog Heaven.

“It’s the best place on earth a pig can be raised,” Jordan Vansice said, standing inside the family’s recently completed wean-to-finish hog barn near Melbourne.

The 4,800-head-capacity barn will be stocked soon, and the Jasper County Farm Bureau member family says they’re eager to get started raising pigs.

Vansice, with his wife, Stacia, and children, Stadan and Lilie, will be raising pigs under a contract with Iowa Select Farms.

“After doing a bunch of re­search, we found that Iowa Select puts a lot of time and thought into efficiencies and how they manage their operations; that was a big thing for us,” Vansice said.

Environmental care

In addition to an electrostatic fence, which helps break down dust particles, the barn will have a vegetative buffer around the two-barn site. The family worked through the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers’ Green Farmstead Partner Program, which helps connect farmers with landscape professionals to add trees and shrubs around new or existing farm sites.

Frazier Nursery of Vinton will plant techny arborvitaes in a u-shape around the site. A row of dogwood shrubs will also be planted. The trees and shrubs will work in coordination, helping to reduce odor and shelter the barns from strong winds and control snow deposition, says Alex Frazier.

“The density we’re creating with this hedge around the building will actually take the wind as it approaches the barn from every direction and push it up. Once it gets up, it has the ability to mix with fresh air,” Frazier said. That air mixing helps dissipate odor and dust, he said.

The farm also utilizes sidewall fans instead of pit fans.

“That seems like a small change, but the manure is one of the main sources of odor and rather than trying to ventilate the manure head space, this helps ventilate the pigs instead. You probably get a 30 to 40 percent reduction in odor just from that,” says Dan Andersen, assistant professor at Iowa State University in agricultural and biosystems engineering.

The Vansice family says the manure that will be generated from the pigs will add value to their crop operation.

“Everyone knows the name of the game in farming these days is trying to get your input costs as low as you can, and we just feel that the value of the manure is going to be a great addition to that,” Vansice said.

The Vansice family also thought of the site as an opportunity for their children. Vansice, a fifth- generation farmer, says he wanted to create an opportunity for his children like his parents and grandparents did for him.

“I know Grandpa worked his whole life to get to where he was at, and he likes to see it passed down the line, and we’d like to keep that going and show that we appreciate what he started.”



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