- Animals: swine
- Animal Production: general animal production
Since 1970, numbers of hog farms in North Carolina has decreased while numbers of hogs per farm has increased (Honeyman, 1996). Despite this rise of industrial hog production, many North Carolina farmers have turned to small-scale hog farming enterprises as a way to diversify and bring more income to their farms. With this trend, there is a new demand on county extension agents to provide guidance on pasture-based hog systems with which they may not be familiar. In response, collaborators from North Carolina state University, North Carolina A&T State University, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and a diverse group of farmer advisors have develop a comprehensive series of trainings in pasture-based pork production. With this series, entitled Pasture Pork 101, we can encourage a shift in agents' attitudes towards sustainable agriculture and empower them to offer their own county-based workshops and to work one-on-one with their local farmers. The series will includes seven, one-day workshops on all aspects of hog production and will be held at "model farms" located in the three distinct regions of North Carolina (Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal), giving extension agents a hands-on training appropriate for their own environment and a contact for their own future workshops hosted in their counties. Proposed workshop topics include: Planning and Managing for Profitable Pastured Pigs, Breeding and Gestation, Farrowing Management, Pasture Management, Nutrition and Herd Health, Pork Muscle Quality and Value Added Processing, and Pork Marketing. Independent evaluation consultations will assess project effectiveness.
Project objectives from proposal:
The Objective of this project is to provide county extension agents with an advanced knowledge and skill set in pasture-based hog production, bolstering the agent's attitude towards sustainable agriculture, ending a reluctance to provide comprehensive training to local farmers.
Specifically we are facilitating a series of comprehensive training sessions for extension agents covering all aspects of pasture-based hog production enabling these agents to provide more one-on-one technical assistance.
- Focus training on the incorporation of pigs into diversified farming operations to encourage agents with both crop and livestock appointments to attend and collaborate on farmer training in their own counties. Use "model farms" to provide a hands-on training experience. Create a series of extension bulletins as part of a larger manual for agents to use and distribute. Act as a model for other southern region state programs and participate in regional meetings like Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Build on and learn from other successful SARE-funded projects.