#RealPigFarming unites pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members to talk about pig farming. There are many different ways to raise pigs and #RealPigFarming celebrates all farmers and how they choose to raise their pigs. The most important things are that the pigs are well cared for, measures on the farm ensure food safety and the practices are environmentally sustainable.
Robert Fisk and his family reside on a pig farm in Matador, Texas. He farms with his wife, Christie, and his children Brendan, Dereck, Aidan, and Colter. He became involved in agriculture with influence from his father-in-law, who is a cotton farmer. In 2001, Robert returned from his tour in Iraq with the United States Army, and began raising show pigs. Since then, he has built a partnership with Whole Foods and is currently raising pork through their natural program. Pigs on their farm are raised without antibiotics and have access to the outdoors. Robert is one of two pig farmers producing pork for Whole Foods in Texas. Robert talked about his pig farm with #RealPigFarming.
RPF: Tell me about your farm
FISK: Our farm is a farrow-to-finish (or birth-to-market) operation with 50 sows. Our sows give birth twice a year. We raise about 300 pigs for Whole Foods a year. At times throughout the year, we can have upwards of 550 pigs on the farm. My wife and I both work full-time on the farm, and our boys help whenever they are available. The boys exhibit at local livestock shows and will show 9 to 12 keeper gilts that are raised out of our closed herd. Having a closed herd reduces the opportunity for disease to enter our farm. On our farm, like every pig farm, biosecurity is very important to protecting the health of our pigs.
RPF: What made you start your natural pork production operation?
FISK: My operation fits my lifestyle and where I live. My main goal is to teach my boys about hard work and give them hands-on experience. We grind our feed by hand and also hand-feed every pig on our farm. Our farm size fits the needs of my family and where we live.
RPF: What’s the biggest challenge you face with pork production?
FISK: My greatest challenge would be with the feed I use. I cannot have any added supplements, so I grind the feed by hand. With our production, the pigs are slower growing and do not reach a market weight until about 8-10 months of age.
RPF: Why do you enjoy raising pigs?
FISK: Raising pigs is kind of an addiction. They are very curious and very clean, which makes raising pigs interesting and fun.
RPF: What are your goals for the future?
FISK: With two of my boys wanting to be veterinarians that live on a farm, I would like to see my farm be able to continue to support my family. I don’t necessarily need my farm to grow, we are comfortable with the size and that’s what we can successfully handle. I am working towards leaving the farm for my family.