Dan Thoma

A young Dan Thoma didn’t like his dad’s pigs.

“I hated them dearly,” Thoma says. “I never wanted to have anything to do with pork.”

Now, Thoma takes care of pigs every day. After graduating from high school in 2004, he bought an acreage with a barn and began custom feeding. In 2007, he built another barn next to the existing one, and started finishing pigs with his cousins, brothers Joe and Matt Thoma, who were already feeding their own pigs.

“Pigs are always an opportunity—still are an opportunity for somebody to get into livestock,” Thoma says.

Thoma wanted to own pigs, too, and soon bought into Skyline Pork, a Pipestone-managed sow farm near Independence. Continuing wean-to-finish operations with his cousins, he added his share of isoweans from Skyline. In 2014, the trio formed County Line Livestock, and today they feed roughly 65,000 head of pigs annually. They have one nursery. Veterinary treatment, feed rations, and marketing are group decisions.

Dan Thoma of Brandon, Iowa, center, is named a Master Pork Producer during Iowa Pork Congress on Jan. 26, 2022. Presenting the award are Dr. Chris Rademacher, Iowa State University, left, and Dennis Liljedahl, 2021 president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

In 2015, County Line Livestock built County Line Feed Mill, now its own entity with two full-time employees. The feed mill, near La Porte City, is managed by Matt Thoma’s son, Jake Thoma, and serves both County Line Livestock and Skyline Pork, as well as Grassland Pork, another Pipestone-managed sow unit near La Porte City. Grinding their own corn enhances biosecurity, as it allows them to control truck and feed movement. Pigs are transported using their own semis.

County Line Livestock sells its Duroc-sired pigs about evenly among JBS, Prestage Foods, and Wholestone Farms, in which County Line owns shares.

Thoma, 36, is a member of the Buchanan County Pork Producers (BCPP), and has served on the board for seven years. He is a familiar face at grilling events, and at county and state fairs. In other areas of the community, he is president of the Wapsipinicon Snowmobile Association, and is a 16-year member of the Jesup Lions Club, managing the group’s annual tractor pull. For his leadership on and off the farm, the BCPP named Thoma the 2021 Buchanan County Master Pork Producer.

Thoma and his wife, Ali, are parents to Casey, 5, Simon, 3, and twins Lance and Molly, 7 months.