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Farm Name: Michigan State University Swine Teaching and Research Farm
Representative: Kevin Turner – Farm Manager
Location: 4813 Powerline Drive, Lansing, MI 48910
1. How did the MSU Swine Teaching & Research farm get started?
While hogs at MSU date back to the inception of the university itself in 1855. The current MSU Farm, commonly referred to as the “New” farm was completed late in 1997 and was first populated in January of 1998 with 80, 8-10 day old Yorkshire females that were segregated-early- weaned from sows at the “Old” farm on the corner of College and Forest Roads. From there, the rest is history. Those 80 females became the basis for every animal since. Over the nearly 20 years, former farm manager Mr. Al Snedegar and I have strived to build a Yorkshire herd that blends production with functionality. Our herd is known for producing structurally correct pigs that grow and do so, very efficiently.
2. What makes MSU different than other showpig operations?
While maintaining females with the potential to make quality show stock for sale, classes and competitions is a goal of the facility; it is just one of many goals that collectively form our mission. The farm’s primary mission is to work with faculty and staff as they complete their research, teaching and extension/outreach programs. Animals produced are used for research in nutrition, behavior, genetics, environmental management, meat science and muscle biology, and production management. Animals are also used for class projects and experiences for all MSU students, as well as many 4-H, FFA, and other youth and adult activities… so the difference lies in the farm’s diversity.
3. If you had five minutes to share anything you’d like with a youth exhibitor, what advice would you give them?
Don’t sweat the small stuff, winning is great but learning proper animal husbandry skills and developing life-long relationships with other swine producers is the more important outcome of a pig project. Also remember that as an exhibitor you are part of a much larger industry, while scaled differently, the end goal is to produce a high-quality product for human consumption. Finally, don’t be afraid to share your story. Friends, family, anyone who’ll lend an ear, tell them about your pig project. Explain to them why you exhibit hogs, how you care for them, the hours/days/weeks/months/years you put into raising and caring for your livestock. Our industry needs to continue to do a better job of telling our story and it starts with YOU, the youth.
4. What do you see as one of the greatest challenges facing the show pig industry?
I believe our largest challenge is an ever-growing, public perception that animal exhibition is inhumane. With that said, I echo my sentiments from above, it is our job to tell our story. A simple conversation between a youth exhibitor and someone with little or no understandin
5. What would you tell a college student that would like to work at the farm?
Call, email, stop out and talk to me. I employ 10-15 students at any one time. I try to give opportunities to as many young people as possible. I’ll teach you anything you want to learn and give you the opportunity to do so through hands on training.g of swine production can spark that change in perception.