Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gestation Crates

To crate or not to crate? The question should be answered by the hog producer and his own management decisions, not by some "humane" organization or some corporation.

Today there is another article in the local paper about their use. I know many local people will read it. I hope that when you do, you will read it with a laser-like precision and lock in the statements made and consider the sources of those statements. Then ask yourself, "what are the qualifications of these sources?" "Do they have any knowledge to make valid statements about the hog industry and about how animals in general behave?"

The article gives some good information about research done at Waseca. This research pretty much answers the question, "are crates good for gestating gilts or sows?" The answer is yes because the stress levels are lower in the animals who were housed in the crates. This is verified in a small way by a veterinarian who was visiting our farm. She had experience dealing with facilities where crates were being used and shared with my husband that the sows do better in the crates. Why not? All a pig wants is to be left alone, have plenty of feed, fresh air, clean water, and be warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.

We have not used crates because we have not farrowed (birthed) pigs on this farm for close to twenty years. We do have experience with farrowing crates and can testify that they have saved many a baby pig from death. (Baby pigs birthed in pens die in countless ways - most of which most readers would not want to read about.) We also have experience with gestation gilts and sows in pens. And we can verify the words in the article THEY FIGHT! When two or more female hogs start fighting, it is not a pretty sight and it takes a manly man or a darn good woman to break them up. And that is the point. Farmer stewards are not available 24 hours a day to pig sit our gestating sows to keep them from fighting and harming themselves and others.

The pecking order in a group of sows leaves some at the top that do very well and some at the bottom that get beat up, that have to fight for food and water, that get picked on, that end up cut, bleeding, scarred, injured and perhaps lame. Keeping them in smaller pens of maybe two or three might work, but there would still be two against one. And the idea of breeding hogs that a less aggressive? How much does this person want to pay for his pork?  Oh, that's right - we all know - the Humane Society of the United States people really don't want pork or any other meat. They want to do away with eating meat - don't they. end

Monday, June 25, 2012


Yes, it is atrocious the way the Minnesota Department of Transportation is neglecting the roadsides along the state highways and allowing the thistles to blossom and go to seed. It is a sea of purple in some areas. Farmers go ballistic when they see this because they spend their lives fighting thistles in their fields. Is this another sign of "no funds for spray and no funds for manpower to spray the ditches" and no funds because of unwillingness to pass taxes to pay for erradication of this noxious weed?

Monday, June 18, 2012


Recently the ag community has been buzzing about the invasive intrusions of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is again on our backs it seems every time we turn around they want us to comply with yet another onerous rule or regulation.

This time there was outrage expressed because the EPA was spying on livestock operations in Iowa and Nebraska using of all things DRONES. Yes, just like the military uses to kill terrorists. Even our ag news people were spreading the word and of course, we farmers were sucking it in. And our elected officials were very upset because they did not know it was happening and worse, were not forewarned. They had to hear about it from the farmers. The farmers saw these drones flying over their land and informed people like Senator Mike Johannes of Nebraska.

Upon investigation Senator Johannes found out that this was a somewhat customary procedure for EPA and it had been going on EVEN when he had been Secretary of Agriculture under the previous administration. There have been many criticisms of the amount of money spent on these expensive drones and the authority to use them in this manner etc.  BUT WAIT.

When the whole story is told, it seems there has been a mistake. It was not really drones being used. The EPA was using manned aircraft. These two words change the effect of the news headline quite a bit!  Too bad, journalism today always goes for the sensational over the factual! end