Pig & Hog Farm Jobs
Hog farms are among the most popular kinds of farms in the United States, and this country is the world’s largest exporter of pork and pork products.
There are both large, intensive farming hog operations as well as outdoor systems. Critics of giant commercial farms, which keep the animals in crowded pens argue that the animals have a low quality of life that don’t allow for natural activities like wallowing in the mud. However, critics of outdoor systems note that the animals are susceptible to parasites, disease, sunburn, heat stroke, and other problems when raised in a more “free range” way, and this type of farming has environmental impacts, since hogs cause soil erosion and can’t be raised as quickly or cost efficiently.
Your tasks when working on a hog farm depend largely on whether the farm is an indoor system of outdoor system. Most of the farms that hire large numbers of workers use indoor systems, and your job could include feeding, cleaning stalls, regulating temperature, inspecting the animals for health, and administering shots of antibiotics, vitamins, and hormones.
Many hog farms also have breed facilities. These farms employ workers to collect from male hogs and inseminate female hogs, as well as workers to care for the females (called sows) while they are pregnant and to help with the birthing process. Workers may also pick out and slaughter weak babies (called runts) soon after birth, and wean the pigs in as little as two weeks.
A small percentage of farms will slaughter pigs on-site; most sell live hogs to larger slaughterhouses. More than with many other types of livestock farming, large commercial farms have been putting smaller farms out of business, since pork can be produced at a much lower cost with mass farming.
However, as consumers begin demanding more natural products, small farmers are starting up hog farms once again to provide free-range animals raised in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Some pig farms raise their own crops, especially soybeans, to feed to pigs. Unlike chickens and cattle, pigs need a source of protein like soybeans or meat in order to grow. Farmers may also have corn or other types of grains in their fields to supplement their hogs’ diets. So, your tasks as a farmhand on a hog farm could also include working in fields.
The Changing Economics of U.S. Hog Production
Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Hog Farms, 2004