The headline may seem like a non sequitur, but please, just stay with me as I explain the connection.
I recently got to take my first trip to a pig farm and I’ve been looking at the photos and video and trying to decide what my followup post to the one on whether pig farms are stinky. I decided that maybe the barns and thinking about pork were good places to start. And to the eye, the first group of barns I went to, the ones that Chris (my host/friend Chris Chinn aka @ChrisChinn who blogs at ChrisChinn.wordpress.com) kept calling farrowing barns — that’s where the baby pigs (ie piglets) are born and kept with the mommas (aka sows) when young.
The Chinn family chooses to use individual pens for the pigs and the ones in the farrowing barn include areas where the piglets can get out from under the mommas’ feet too! Some farmers choose to raise pigs outside or use barns different ways.
So what do farrowing barns for pigs look like? Well, at the Chinn’s farm, they were dark. The photo below shows the inside of one of the farrowing barns on the left and a sow barn on the right. You can see that the heat lamp the piglets are under in the farrowing barn were really the only lights in there while I was there. I didn’t think much about it til we got to some other barns and they had lots of natural light.
When I asked, Chris pointed out that since the sows and piglets were nursing, having the lights down helps keep the focus there. And I swear, it came to me that the mother’s room at a lot of places is also dark since that helps provide a calming environment. The light went off…. Chris and her family really think through these decisions and consider what’s best for the pigs they raise!
I have to tell you, that eating pork has been a little different since I visited Chris and her family. I’m not shying away from it if that’s what you wondered, in fact, I feel more informed and aware. Probably bought a bit more pork too now that I think about it — cooked myself a great porkchop! Having had a chance to see the farm, ask some questions and get some answers, I feel like I can make better decisions.
Hearing from the Experts is a Goal for Domino’s Pizza Too!
That feeling of empowerment by getting information first-hand about pork production is what makes me mention another thing I learned from Chris, but this wasn’t something I learned about in her barns…. in fact, I read it on a blog. Here’s an excerpt but you may want to go straight to Farmers Paying It Forward With Pizza:
I was so encouraged to hear that the stockholders of Domino’s Pizza share my stand on animal care. The company announced that it would rely on animal experts to determine what is the best way to raise an animal that’s being used for food. As a farmer, I respect Domino’s for its common sense decision and for trusting the experts in animal care.
I appreciate Domino’s respect for our veterinarians, nutritionists and animal scientists. These are the same experts our family relies on for animal care. Our veterinarian and nutritionist are not just experts on animal care, they are a part of our family farm management team and they are like family to us. That’s how closely we work with them; they know the nuts and bolts of our farm and family and they help us customize the care we give our livestock. Every farm is different, just as every person and breed of animal are different.
Domino’s decision speaks volumes to me as a farmer. It shows they trust the experts I trust. It shows they trust me. I appreciate that.
Then Chris floated an idea in that Just Farmers post:
Members of my family, especially my kids, love pizza just about as much as they love farming. I think the next time we decide to have pizza, I’m going to show a little love back. I am going to buy a Domino’s pizza. For me, this means driving 45 minutes out of my way but I think it’s worth it to support a company that supports me. And it gives a vote of support to a company that leaves important decisions like animal care up to the experts!
While I’m at it, I think I will write a note to the local manager thanking his company for their decision. You can show your support for Domino’s too. During the weekend of May 18-20 many farmers and ranchers I know will be voting with their checkbooks by buying Domino’s pizza for their families as a sign of our appreciation.
It makes perfect sense to me that Dominos would want to talk to farmers. I remember the ads they started doing a long time ago that had people be surprised by being in the midst of a farm-fresh environment. (My friend Kelly wrote a post about that a long time ago by the way, and you should check out Domino’s Behind the Pizza Games to get up to speed on some of the connections. Wonder if they want to do one on pork products like pepperoni & sausage?) Since then, the idea has certainly grown! A couple thousand people have already RSVPed to the Ag Pizza Party event on Facebook! You can even get a ready to print thank you flyer here or here.
As some of you may know, I do love pizza and I do love working in agriculture so I’m going to join the pizza party this weekend! I’m trying to decide on what all toppings I’ll get, but feel certain I can go for pork as well as vegetables & dairy! Feel free to join us whether you are a farmer, work with farmers or simply appreciate the work they do to help bring pizza delivery to the door or fresh fruit to the fridge.
- Farmers Paying It Forward With Pizza (justfarmers.biz)
- The Domino Effect and Rewarding Good Behavior (thetruthaboutagriculture.wordpress.com)
- City Girl Meets Pig Farm (chrischinn.wordpress.com)
- So I Ordered a Domino’s Pizza (dairycarrie.com)
Another blog post about going to the Chinn’s — My First Visit to a Pig Farm – Did it Smell Bad?