Practical Farmers of Iowa Hosts Field Days

June 21 event features grass-based dairy; June 16, 17 and 26 are tours of three niche pork operations.

Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting three field days - June 16, 17 and 26 - that have to do with niche pork production. In addition, PFI is hosting a field day June 21 that features a grass-based, organic dairy operation.

The three niche pork field days will explore options to bring farms with unused hog facilities back into production for niche markets. Each farm represents fairly typical situations where unused hog facilities exist in Iowa. ISU Extension ag engineers will discuss options to upgrade or retrofit these facilities. ISU Extension swine specialists will talk about production flow and management issues related to each site, as well as discuss the potential optimum number of market hogs to optimize economically efficient use of each facility.

Operators of the farms will also describe how they have used the facilities to raise hogs. This event is sponsored by the ISU On-Farm Research and Demonstration Program, Hubbard Feeds, Niman Ranch and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

* Event #1--Monday, June 16 goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the Larry Miller farm, 2338 185th St., Dana, Iowa. This farm has two building sites about a quarter mile apart. There is a big older barn that was used for farrowing in the past, plus several cattle barns and other buildings that can hold about 700 market hogs. There is also quite a bit of unused concrete and some other smaller sheds.

Directions: Just east of Grand Junction on Hwy 30, take country road P46 north 3.5 miles to 185th Street, turn east and go 0.6 miles; north side of road.

* Event #2--Tuesday, June 17 goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the Tom Miller farm, 1135 Kentucky Ave., Winfield, Iowa. This farm has an older 12-stall farrowing building, plus two hoop buildings that were used for finishing hogs. There is also an open front shed, a cattle loafing shed and an older barn, all of which have concrete both inside and outside.

Directions: ½ mile north of Olds on Hwy 218, turn east on 115th St., go ¾ mile to Kentucky Ave., then north ¼ mile; west side of road.

* Event #3--Thursday, June 26 goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the Mark and Valerie Olson farm, 1283 180th St., Schaller, Iowa. This farm has a confinement farrowing building and a small confinement nursery, both with gutter systems for manure removal. There are also two Cargill units for finishing hogs, plus various smaller buildings and lots of unused concrete.

Directions: 2 miles north of Schaller on Hwy 110, turn west on 180th St., go 2.1 miles (just past Buchanan Ave); north side of road.

PFI is a non-profit sustainable agriculture group dedicated to farming that is profitable, environmentally sound, and healthy for consumers and communities. Founded in 1985, PFI has over 700 farmer and non-farmer members throughout Iowa. For more information, call 515-232-5661 or visit  

PFI Field Day: Grass-Based Organic Dairy Systems

Francis and Susan Thicke of Fairfield are hosting a PFI field day on their farm, Radiance Dairy, on Saturday, June 21. The event will involve discussion on bird habitat, solar-powered water systems, gravity and geothermal water system techniques, no-till drilling and fly control. The field day will begin at 9:00 a.m. at Radiance Dairy and continue with lunch at 11:45 at Revelations Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

Radiance Dairy is a 236-acre, 80-cow, grass-based, certified organic dairy that processes milk on-farm into bottled milk, cream, yogurt and cheese for sale through local grocery stores and restaurants. This dairy is all planted to forages and has 60 paddocks for controlled, rotational grazing.

Directions to Radiance Dairy: 1745 Brookville Road, Fairfield. Take Hwy 34 to the west edge of Fairfield; turn north on Brookville road; Radiance Dairy is 3 miles on the right.

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