U.S. agriculture keeps hearing that consumers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is being produced.
Regardless if they truly want to know the origin of their food, they claim that they do want to know, and agrarians continue to find ways to tell the farming story to a distant public.
With the advent of social media, we have seen more and more producers and other agvocates opening their barns and telling the agriculture story. Ohio pork producers have taken classrooms across the state on virtual field trips to expose the youth and, indirectly, their families to the world of pig farming.
The Maschhoffs recently took this one step further with the unveiling of a revolutionary digital tool that takes users, step by step, through how this family owned company produces enough pork to feed 16 million people each year.
The Maschhoffs’ Pork: from Farm to Table is an interactive digital process map that takes users through the entire chain, starting at the boar stud where topline genetics are produced all the way through to an export barge as it floats past the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which is just over an hour west of The Maschhoffs main offices near Carlyle, Ill.
All along the way, web users are treated to education and information about each step of the process. As an example, users can learn at the Breed-to-Wean Farm stop that “For The Maschhoffs’ production regions (Central Prairie, Heartland, Great Plains and Great South), the process of producing a Grade A market hog begins at the sow farm, also known as a Breed-to-Wean farm. About 80% of our sow farms are company-owned and staffed. The remaining 20% are owned by Production Partners, though some of those farms are staffed with The Maschhoffs’ employees.”
It is further explained that once pigs are born, the team of caretakers tend to the mothers and the litters. “At this stage, piglets are treated with vaccinations, castrated and tail docked.”
In addition to telling users what is done to the piglets shortly after birth, The Maschhoffs goes the extra step to explain why tails are docked (“to prevent biting as they grow older”) and why the males are castrated (“to prevent the production of testosterone, a hormone that causes an offensive odor and taste in the pork during cooking and eating.”)
“At around 21 days, piglets are weaned from their mothers and shipped to a finishing farm. The sow then moves back to the breeding line to repeat the production cycle.”
Of course, no trip to the farrowing room would be complete without a glimpse of baby pigs, so there are pictures, as well as a video of nursing piglets.
Just as it is explained that the Breed-to-Wean farms depends on the Tech-Ops to provide the gilts and boar semen, each stop of the virtual tour has explanations of “Support Functions,” indicating how intertwined the entire production chain is. For example, the “Support Functions” listed for the Finishing Farm are Resource Loop (One of the advantages of raising pigs indoors is the ability to capture all of the manure.) and Production Manager/Production Partner Interaction (The Maschhoffs is able to ensure our hogs are meeting our customers’ expectations.) One quick click on either of the Support Functions takes you to a further explanation.
The Resource Loop relies on the manure from the finishing barns, and as mentioned before the Breed-to-Wean farm relies on the Tech-Ops, and on and on and on. Similarly, The Maschhoffs realizes that the entire swine industry is dependent on the strength of the individual producers, and each needs to be on board telling the agriculture and swine production story.
With that in mind, The Maschhoffs wants anyone and everyone to use and share this interactive tool. At the Aug. 1 unveiling of The Maschhoffs’ Pork: from Farm to Table, a number of people from ag teachers to legislators to industry supporters were enthused to use the tool, and excited about the benefits that it can provide agriculture in general and, more specifically, the U.S. swine industry.
Take a spin at TheMaschhoffs.com/Process to learn more about modern U.S. pig production, and don’t be shy about sharing the link to anyone and everyone who needs to further their hog production knowledge.
We’re all dependent on one another.