Sac County farm family gives community look at new hog barn

Sac County farm family gives community look at new hog barn

Posted Dec. 4, 2013; Revised Dec. 5, 2013

 Matt and Janene Raasch

It holds 2,400 head; is tunnel-ventilated; has fully automated feeding and ventilation systems; and holds up to a year’s worth of manure. It’s one of the newest additions to the pork industry in Sac County.

Matt and Janene Raasch accepted the first load of pigs from The Maschhoff’s at their brand new wean-to-finish swine facility at the family farm outside Odebolt on Dec. 2, but before the pigs arrived, they opened the barn up to the community for an open house.

About 100 family members, neighbors, townspeople and others attended the grand opening and complimentary pork lunch on Nov. 27. The Raaschs gave tours of the barn and explained its various features and the new technology and environmental safeguards they’re using. The barn features several pens and each has a feed bin and water trough.

In modern pork production, a wean-to-finish facility receives piglets that are around 21 days old and 10 to 12 pounds. The Raasch barn includes rubber mats for the newly weaned piglets to lie on and brooder heaters (heat lamps) to keep them warm until they’re older. The pigs are then raised to market weight of around 270 pounds, a period of about four to five months.

“Our family is deeply rooted in Sac County and have always been involved in the community that we live in,” Matt Raasch said. “I represent five generations of farmers on my father’s side and four generations of farmers on my mother’s side and all have raised livestock here in Sac County. My family has decided to grow our farm so that our children can carry on our family’s legacy. We understand that for this legacy to continue we must be conscious of the environment and our neighbors.”

Matt and Janene worked closely with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers in determining the best possible site for the barn.

“I’m very comfortable with the location of the barn,” Matt said. We meet all of the state guidelines and separation distances and I wanted it next to our house so it’s easier to care for the pigs. He also wanted the barn close by for security purposes.

The Raaschs also are participating in CSIF’s Green Farmstead Partner program and just planted140 Ostrey trees around the barn to provide a wind break and help with odor dispersion and dust control.

The event was sponsored by CSIF, The Maschhoff’s, Sac County Pork Producers, Sac County Farm Bureau, Jorden Ag Enterprises, Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, United Bank of Iowa and First Co-op.

“Iowa livestock farmers are community-minded and take great pride in their work and commitment to the well-being of their animals and the environment,” says Brian Waddingham, CSIF executive director. “It’s also no secret that livestock production has a positive impact on the local economy. The construction and day-to-day operation of a 2,499-head hog barn like the Raasch’s will create 12 jobs and have a $1.8 million impact on the Sac County economy in the first year alone.”