Alease and Donnie raise hogs outdoors on their home farm in Sampson County. Donnie, a third generation farmer, worked for Good Year Tire for many years but always found time to raise some hogs. Alease, on the other hand, is a newcomer to farm life. It wasn’t until she met and married Donnie 21 years ago that she was introduced to farming and raising livestock. “I was a nurse for over 30 years and so making the transition to farm life felt natural. Of course, I really love the farrowing process and taking care of newborn pigs. In fact, it’s not all that different from the labor and delivery ward at the hospital,” says Alease.
About eight years ago, hog prices fell dramatically. Recalls Donnie, “It just wasn’t worth it anymore to raise hogs on a small scale. I was losing money.” So Alease and Donnie decided to look for other marketing opportunities. That’s when they heard about the NC Natural Hog Growers Association and the idea of raising hogs outdoors on pasture. “But Donnie only knew how to raise hogs indoors in confinement so we had a lot to learn,” says Alease.
Alease and Donnie began attending monthly educational workshops about pasture-based hog production offered by NC Agricultural & Technical University Extension Programs. “We learned about the importance of rotating our hogs with annual crops, proper feed rations, humane treatment techniques and how to control parasites. We really studied and tried to learn from others,” says Alease.
Today, the Williams run a 15-sow operation and recently invested in a Berkshire boar since their markets prefer longer loins and redder meat. They cross this with Chester White and/or Hampshire sows, selected for their good mothering abilities. Alease and Donnie also produce corn, soybeans and wheat, much of which they use for hog feed. The Williams' take pride in controlling all aspects of their production system, including growing, storing, and grinding their own feed and using hog waste as a fertilizer for grain production.
For more information about D-A Farms, contact Alease Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org