How do you care for hogs and harvest at the same time?

Posted: September 24, 2020

Answer: Harvesting our crops in the fall is certainly a busy time for us but before we head to the fields we feed and care for the animals.

Harvest preparation is imperative on any farming operation, but it looks slightly different when managing livestock and crops simultaneously. In addition to getting the equipment ready, we also spend time preparing the hog buildings for a reduced workload.

Our entire operation, both hogs and grain, needs to be “ready” for harvest.

In the late summer and early fall, we are preparing many types of equipment for harvest such as: combine, grain cart, tractors, tillage tools, semis, and grain dying and storage facilities. Machinery needs to be greased, oil changed, tires maintained, along with double-checking and replacing of worn parts, and software updates. Additionally, the planning and purchasing for the next year’s crop has already begun. 

Harvesting the grain crops is certainly a huge time commitment but animal welfare cannot be neglected during this busy time.

We use the summer months to complete larger barn maintenance projects or upgrades as well as empty manure pits. Extra time is spent pre-ordering feed ingredients and medications so that it doesn’t need to be tended to while the focus is on keeping the combine running.

Most of the year, we haul our animals to market using our own semi and livestock trailer; however, during harvest this semi and driver is dedicated to hauling grain from the field so we hire outside trucking for market animals.

Between our family members and full-time employees, we can handle most responsibilities that come with the fall season.

Some farms, including ours, need to hire additional labor, or seasonal labor, to help with driving equipment such as grain trucks and tillage tools. Our farm is fortunate to have an employee dedicated to the care of the hogs all year round – he is busier in the fall with less help from everyone else!

Before we head out to the fields to start up the combine in the mornings, we make sure the animals are taken care of and the employee dedicated to the swine production is set up for success.

For example, if we have a load of hogs being shipped, everyone pitches in to load the truck in the morning before starting to harvest. Or if a serious complication occurred in the buildings such as a broken water line, it must be fixed before everyone can go to the field. This may mean one person or several people staying back to rectify the situation. Animal welfare must come first. The animals NEED food and water, the grain can wait a few hours and time can be made up in the fields in the evenings if needed.