Despite changing market con­­ditions and consumer preferences, the Trettin family in north Iowa remains committed to raising pigs both as a family and as independent producers. While the pig-raising business has changed, it has been good for the family of independent producers in Rockford, they say.

Harold Edward (H.E.) Trettin began raising sows in the late 1970s after spending 40 years in the poultry industry, breeding and raising turkeys and chickens. A shift in the poultry market spurred the move to raising pigs, says Ken Trettin, Harold’s son. Harold died in 2012. Ken now runs the business, H.E. Trettin Inc., with his brothers-in-law, Todd Seibert and John Pearson.

“There were fewer and fewer customers (for chickens), and most of them were extremely large and oftentimes had their own hatchery,” Trettin said.

While renovating their poultry barns to accommodate pigs, the family learned of PIC (Pork Improvement Company) and that there could be an...