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Young Linn County man opens first hog barn

Posted June 17, 2014

He’s grown up with pigs — learning from his father’s farrow-to-finish and wean-to-finish operations — and is now entering the ever-changing world of pork production on his own.

“This is my first endeavor and I’m looking forward to it,” said third-generation hog farmer Matt Ditch while hosting an open house at his new finishing facility near Center Point on June 3. “I’ve been around [hogs] all my life and I’ve gone from pulling pigs to castrating pigs to vaccinating them.”

A crowd of around 150 family, friends and neighbors attended the open house to tour the environmentally controlled facility and enjoy a pork dinner and refreshments. A Linn County supervisor and the county auditor also were among the visitors.

Guests were able to see the automated feeding system, waterers and environmental controls of the 4,160-head barn.

“It’s a big building, but I’m comfortable with it, especially with today’s technology,” Ditch said. “It gives you a lot more time to be with the pigs, look at them, work with them and make sure they’re healthy.”

The first load of pigs from The Maschhoffs went into the barn at his home site near Center Point later that week. His father will help him and Matt expects to also get assistance from his wife, Melissa, and their three young children, as well as his mother, making it a true family venture.

Ditch worked closely with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) on siting, neighbor relations and other matters while building the barn.

“We’re pretty confident that any neighbor and community fears will be alleviated because what we’re doing here is the right thing and now it’s just a matter of putting our money where our mouth is and doing it.”

The open house was sponsored by CSIF, The Maschhoff’s, Linn County Farm Bureau, Jorden Ag Enterprises, Alliant Energy, Klima Excavating and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“I’m proud to be the third generation in the Ditch family to own and manage this farm,” Matt said. “Our family has a long history of solid, reputable animal husbandry and land stewardship practices in the agricultural community of Center Point and Linn County. “This community is a part of our family in many ways. We want to see it continue to flourish and grow, so our children and future generations can continue to carry on our legacy.”

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