I admit I did not know what to expect when visiting the Ward family farm, we have all seen the media coverage of the horrific scenes from pig farms. I ended up learning a lot and really enjoyed the experience. The Wards were very open and willing to share all their knowledge about farming and how their farm is run. Though the Ward’s keep their pigs in climate controlled barns, for many reasons I still do not agree with keeping pigs indoors their entire lives.
While speaking with the farmers, the representative from Illini Farms and the representative from the slaughter house the topic of GMOs and organics was discussed many times and the discussion often ended by them saying that there is no visible difference in GMO and non-GMO food and that they all feed it to their families and think it is safe. In these discussions the research showing that our bodies can detect the difference between GMO and non-GMO foods was never mentioned.
Mike Woltmann from Illini Farms presented us with a slide show and in it he educated the group about breed to wean farms. From that discussion I learned that I am not in agreement with those practices. The sow’s lives at a breed to wean farm consist of artificial insemination, being put into a small pen to have her piglets, nurse them for 21 days and then repeating that process continually for a few years until she is sent to market but not the regular market because her meat is now not as good, her meat is now only used for sausage and the like.
The Ward’s veterinarian and slaughter house representative explained how the withdraw times of antibiotics and random testing done at the slaughter house ensures that there are no antibiotics in the pigs system at time of slaughter. I do believe that to be true but have also read many scientific research studies that conclude the use of antibiotics in livestock creates antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is being passed to humans when they consume the meat.
While I may disagree with a lot of the practices used on the Ward’s farm their family farm is run with passion and the Wards care for the pigs using the methods that they believe to be the best. Seeing how the Wards farm is run gave me a brighter look at conventional farming in Illinois and if I were to buy conventional pig meat I would want it to be from the Ward’s farm.
5 Things I Learned or Experienced on the Ward Family hog farm:
Amy Buffardi, Darrien
- The farmer himself walked us thru the entire farm and explained what happens from the time the piglet arrives to the time they are sent to slaughter.
- Whether I agree with the practices of this farm or not, the farmers do think that they are doing what is best for the pigs.
- I experienced the smell of waste produced from thousands of pigs, it is an awful smell and I can’t imagine it not being toxic to those inhaling it.
- I learned about the breed to wean farms and that artificial insemination is the process they use for “mating” them.
- A representative from a slaughter house explained how the pigs that come to his facility are processed.