Grass & Grain


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By Donna Sullivan, Editor Seven Kansas City food bloggers had the opportuni- ty to head west and experi- ence Kansas agriculture and food products October 15-17. Kansas Farm Bu- reau and Kansas Soybean partnered on the Kansas Food Farm Tour, which began at a basil farm in Basehor and went as far west as the McCarty Dairy in Rexford before heading back through Salina to visit the Smoky Hill Winery and Hank Charcuterie, a Lawr- ence restaurant specializing in charcuterie products made from Kansas-raised animals that are butchered in-house, before boarding the bus to head back to Kansas City. Stops in be- tween included the Good Farm in Olsburg, where they heard about heritage pork production followed by at the Mertz Farm, where they experienced a gourmet meal of locally sourced food prepared by Russ Loub of Little Apple Brewing Company. Mary Mertz also described their family's involvement in agri-tourism, including their Feast of the Field event held each year in June. From there they traveled to McPherson for a visit to the Sawyer Farm. The next morning they traveled to Scott City for lunch and a tour at Nu-Life, followed by watching sorghum being harvested. Angela Muir, whose blog is called Handmade in the Heartland, was im- pressed by what she saw at Good Farm, and the care each of their hogs received. She reflected on how the word "feedlot" conjures up negative images in today's popular culture. "The pork farmer said that we would consider these pens or lots, but they're definitely not as scary and horrible as what you might imagine. They're outside in specific areas, but they're not small by any means." She appre- ciated the way he used the well-being of the ani- mal to gauge its health. "They're growing and they're healthy, so there's a good environment there," she said. Chelsea Fanders, who writes a blog called Whatcha Makin' Now, was amazed at all the care that goes into growing basil and thoroughly enjoyed her farm visits. "It's so much fun to see great people doing what they're passion- ate about and giving us a great product," she said. By Donna Sullivan, Editor With funding from indus- try donations and Kansas State University's Depart- ment of Animal Sciences and Industry, the K-State Swine Teaching and Re- search Center recently added a new 140x33' nurs- ery building to its facilities. While not increasing the farm inventory, the new building is expected to make better use of existing barn space for teaching and research. It will house newly weaned piglets from weaning to twelve weeks old. Under the old system, nursery pigs were moved to a "grower" barn so the next group of weaned piglets could go into the nursery. It is anticipated the change will provide better teaching capabilities for undergradu- ate and graduate students, as well as better opportunities for nutritional research for pigs weighing between 50- 80 pounds. The new facility includes 86 pens that can each hold up to five pigs and a con- necting hallway to the far- rowing barn and nursery rooms. There is a 16x33' feed room for bagged re- search diet feed and two bulk feed bins for standard nursery feed. A hanging floor scale can weigh entire pens of pigs. A mechanical ventilation system includes ceiling in- lets for incoming air, two natural gas heaters and mul- tiple exhaust fans to remove room moisture and increase air flow for cooling purpos- es. Easily adjustable feeders in each pen provide a steady flow of fresh feed and each pen includes individual nipple-waterers. Total cost for the facility was $360,000. "The Kansas Pork Asso- ciation has been supporting the K-State Swine Team's mission of providing re- search results to help the state's pig farmers for many years," said Tim Stroda, KPA president-CEO, in the KPA newsletter. "Our farm- ers recognize the impor- tance of facilities that allow research to be completed in buildings similar to those being used in the industry." According to Joel DeR- ouchey, KSU professor and Extension specialist, the re- search done at the swine unit focuses mainly on feed and ingredient evaluation such as wheat and distiller's grains ¬– ingredients com- monly used by Kansas pro- ducers. "We also do a lot of feed processing research with the grain science group that has a brand new feed mill," he said. "Looking at particle size, pellet diets, various ways to use a feed mill and then feed it to the pigs to improve efficiency and profitability. We really spend a lot of time on the whole nutrient requirements to formulate those diets cor- rectly so ultimately the pigs perform the best they can for producers." One type of research that isn't done at the swine farm is PEDv studies, as so far the virus has not affected their herd. They do partner with the vet school and work in conjunction with Iowa State University to study the virus. "But as far as the swine farm, we're doing everything we can to keep PEDv out," De- Rouchey said. It's the ten to twelve graduate and six to eight un- dergraduate students that conduct their research at the farm each year that De- Rouchey believes will have the biggest impact on the swine industry in Kansas. "With the new unit we have the same equipment that any new, modern com- mercial-sized facility would have," he said. "So we're able to utilize it for teaching on modern equipment. Ulti- mately that research helps train those students to go out and help producers in their careers as they are in feed companies or other industry positions. Then that re- search helps our Kansas producers." KSU swine unit adds nursery facility — research will benefit Kansas producers Left: a new 140-33' nursery facility has been added to the KSU swine complex. Above, KSU professor and Ex- tension specialist Joel DeRouchey shows the pens that can hold up to five piglets. The galvanized gating and flooring are designed for extended building longevity. Food bloggers experience agriculture on Kansas Food Farm Tour Russ Loub of Little Apple Brewing Company described the locally sourced meal the bloggers were about to enjoy, which included braised shoulder of lamb from the Mertz farm, salad greens from Southside Gardens in Manhattan and bread from Radina's in Manhattan, which is made from Kansas flour. The Mertz family welcomed the bloggers to River Creek Farms for lunch as they journeyed across the state making the farm-to-fork connection.

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