2012 Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award-winning Trail's End Sow Farm #2 is a large-scale sow farm surrounded by lush forages. The farm's approach to nutrient management helps provide habitat for wildlife while providing vegetative cover and haying opportunities. Jeff Mencke and Bill Barnes provide the guidance and leadership behind this successful pork production operation.
Enjoy this photographic tour of Trail's End Sow Farm #2's site. Learn more about the operation by reading the story, "Wide Open Spaces," published in the Sept. 15, 2012 issue of National Hog Farmer magazine. See a video tour of the site here.
1. Oklahoma Farm is a Hidden Beauty
Trail's End Sow Farm #2 is located at the very end of a farm road that heads south out of Ames, OK.</p>
2. No Close Neighbors for Trail's End Sow Farm #2
Isolation is one of the big reasons that this piece of ground is now home to Trail's End Sow Farm #2, with its 10,500 sows. Beyond the farm is nothing but some sandy farmland and a wilderness full of scrub trees, bordered by the Cimarron River.
3. Farm Site Sits on Elevated Pad
The Trail's End Sow Farm #2 farm site has been constructed on an elevated pad, with sloping berms surrounding the site. The leveled area around the barns is covered in Bermuda grass sod, which serves to prevent wind and water erosion.
4. Bill Barnes Oversees Environmental Operations for Farm
Bill Barnes is responsible for implementation and recordkeeping for environmental operations at the Trail's End Sow Farm #2. The farm triple-crops forage species as part of its nutrient management strategy. "Our fields are green throughout the year," Barnes says.
5. Jeff Mencke Provides Leadership for Award-Winning Farm
"We are proud to be involved in the pork industry," say Jeff Mencke, production manager for the Ames sow farms run by Roberts Ranch of Oklahoma, a Hanor company. "We have a constant circle that allows us to produce protein for the world."
6. Keeping the Site Tidy
Extra attention to housekeeping in and around the buildings at Trail's End Sow Farm #2 helps reduce any odor and boost the appearance of the site. Pig manure drops through slots into shallow, 18-in. deep pits, which are charged with about 6-in. of fresh water. The water acts as an odor barrier and allows for some initial breakdown of the manure. Pulling a plug empties the pits by gravity through a 6-in. PVC pipe system.
7. Two Lagoons Receive Effluent from Buildings
There are two lagoons, one on each side of the facility, that receive effluent from the buildings.
8. Lagoon Liners are Carefully Monitored and Managed
Since the area around the farm is made up of sandy soils, extra effort went into the design of the lagoons to prevent any impact on the environment. a 30-ml., high-density polyethylene liner installed in the lagoons prevents leaching of effluent through soil into groundwater sources. Employees walk the lagoons frequently to check for breaches in liner integrity.
9. Lagoons are Pumped for Field Irrigation
Lagoons store effluent that is pumped to two fields at the south edge of the sow farm. The effluent is then distributed through center-pivot irrigation systems.
10. Irrigation Systems are Key to Nutrient Management
Center-pivot irrigation systems distribute the nutrient-rich effluent. The pivots have been engineered to apply a specific amount of material on each pass over the adjacent fields.
11. Triple-Cropping Strategy is Part of Nutrient Management Program
Trail's End Sow Farm #2 triple-crops its forage species; the crop season begins in early fall when cereal rye, winter wheat or triticale is no-tilled into the 278 acres that are under center-pivot irrigation. As part of the nutrient management program, cattle graze the pasture crops periodically under the pivots.
12. Pearl Millet
Pearl millet is one species in a triple-crop approach to forage production at Trail's End.
13. Welcoming Wildlife
"When the site was developed, we tried to disturb as little of the property as possible," Jeff Mencke explains. "We left a lot of the trees and natural flora intact." The land surrounding Trail's End Sow Farm #2 provides habitat to a variety of wildlife, ranging from whitetail deer to porcupines, pheasants to blackbirds.