Quality is vital to hog producer
Orlin Ensz of Hillsboro has a contract with Livestock Services, Inc., of Great Bend to grow hogs for market.
Ensz provides the buildings, labor, and utilities. The company provides the pigs, feed, and medication.
“Quality is extremely important to LSI,” he said. “They tell me how they want it done, and it’s my responsibility to see that it gets done.”
Ensz said the company demands humane and proper handling in sorting the animals and administering medications.
Each animal has an identification number and can be traced back its birthplace. A company veterinarian visits regularly to check on pig health, ventilation, and fly and rodent control.
“He walks through the pens and can see if everything is being done right,” Ensz said.
Ensz sends in detailed weekly reports on things such as feed deliveries and death loss.
Ensz has a federal livestock permit that requires him to comply with strict environmental rules and regulations. He keeps track of rainfall, lagoon levels, waste pumping, nutrient analysis of waste, and soil testing where nutrients are applied to the land.
An employee of Kansas Department of Health and Environment frequently visits the farm to check Ensz’s record keeping and make sure he is in compliance.
“He tells me if anything is wrong,” he said.
Ensz accepts the oversight as a necessary part of livestock production in the modern age.
“There are good reasons for all of that regulation. I have to be a team player to protect the land. If I had a neighbor who was doing what I am doing, I would want to make sure he is current on his management. I haven’t had any complaints.”
He and his two part-time employees follow strict protocols to prevent disease. They have clothes that are worn only when in the barns, and they cannot be exposed to any other pigs.
His barns have the capacity to grow 3,400 pigs. They weigh about 45 pounds when delivered and 290 pounds when shipped to market.
“Six loads of little pigs come in, and 22 loads of fat hogs go out,” he said.
The whole process from start to finish takes about four months and is repeated almost three times a year.
Ensz said the transition from selling fat hogs to refilling all the barns with little pigs takes about two weeks. It is labor intensive. Barns are power-washed and cleaned to prepare for another grow cycle.
Feed comes from Countryside Feed, Inc., in Hillsboro, which has part ownership of the animals.
“They have some skin in the game, too,” he said.
Ensz also raises grain crops, but he said the hog business is his best way of producing a steady income.
He is paid a set amount per head for providing facilities, so what he gets is not dependent on markets as much as grain crops are.
“I enjoy livestock, and it provides a living year-round,” he said. “You have to be willing to sacrifice at times to make it work. You sometimes have to drop everything else you are doing for this. It’s a commitment, but it’s an alternative to having a job off the farm.”
The 54-year-old farmer is looking forward to April, when he will make his last payment on the five-year-old facilities.
Last modified Oct. 10, 2018