Nagel Hog Farms

The team at Nagel Hog Farms does it all. Brad, 55, started with some sows on his wife Donell’s family dairy farm in 1980. Their son Matt, 30, and his wife Kate joined the family operation seven years ago. The Nagels market 35,000 pigs annually to JBS in Worthington, Minn. The farm also includes 600 acres of corn and 80 acres of soybeans, as well as a feed mill. The Nagels feed all their own corn back to the pigs.

Brad started working for Donell’s dad on the family dairy farm as a senior in high school. Here he was able to keep and farrow some sows and sell feeder pigs. After getting married, Brad and Donell started custom feeding 2,000 head in 1994 and steadily expanded their feeding business as they expanded their family. They own shares in a South Dakota sow farm and are buying more shares in a sow farm in Kansas.

Donell attended college and got a degree in clinical laboratory science. She worked off the farm for many years. The family operation was beginning to expand enough that Brad told Donell, “You know, either we need to hire help, or we need your help.” Donell loved the opportunity to return to the farm, spending more time with the animals and her children. “Raising our family on the farm was very important so that we could instill in them strong family and work values,” she said.

Matt wasn’t always planning to return to the farm but is glad he did. While studying for a four-year degree in criminal justice, with a minor in earth science, he began to miss the farm and being outdoors more, so he returned to the family farm. Matt and Kate started dating in college, where Kate was studying for a degree that landed her in the health care field.

In the family operation, Brad takes care of the older pigs while Donell manages the nursery. Matt is in some type of truck throughout the day—whether that be a livestock truck, a feed truck, or a grain truck. Kate helps load hogs and deliver meals during harvest.

Brad and Donell have two other children: Shelby (Alex) and son Lucas. Matt and Kate have a son Noah, 18 months, and Harvey, born in January.