AD Jones is a 4th generation farmer in Duplin and neighboring Onslow counties. While he worked for over 35 years in the textile business, AD always farmed on the side. Now that he is retired, farming is a full-time occupation. “I figure I won’t live much longer if all I do is rest in the recliner or stare at the grill. Tending to crops and raising hogs keeps my mind and body active,” says AD.
When AD was growing up, his family raised hogs, tobacco, grain crops, dairy cows, and vegetables. In this way, they made a living and put fresh food on the table every day. When AD took over the farm, he focused on his main interest -- raising pigs. “Hogs are just my pleasure. Every day, I look forward to feeding them. But my favorite part is being around when one of my sows has a healthy crop of piglets. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as that.”
Because he raises all of his own hog feed, including corn, soybeans and wheat, AD is somewhat unique as a pasture-raised pork producer. “This gives me a way to manage financially in years like this one when corn prices really high,” says AD. Between his two farms, he oversees 260 acres, most of which is cropland and a small percentage is forested. Roughly 25 acres is dedicated to hog production.
AD has close to 250 hogs at any one time, all of which are a mixture of Chesterwhite, Duroc, and Berkshire breeds, with a “smidge” of Hampshire. “This is the blend that I’ve found optimizes meat quality and still provides good mothering and reproduction. I try to focus on producing longer framed animals that result in a lot of pork chops,” says AD. His hogs are raised in pens that are rotated at least once a year. In the heat of summer, the hogs enjoy the more forested areas and when it is cooler, they are moved to open fields. When he takes hogs off an area, AD typically plants an annual grain crop to maintain some ground cover and make use of nutrients left behind in the soil from hog manure.
AD is married to Judy, who taught Home Economics for 36 years at nearby Richlands Highschool. Their son, Al, Jr, teaches agriculture at the same school and is pursuing his PhD at NC State in Agricultural Education. “Even though I discouraged Al from getting into the hog business (he just doesn’t have the patience), I’m real proud of what he is doing and am glad he’s continuing, in his own way, our family’s agricultural legacy,” says AD.