Posted on: October 27, 2023

Stages of Pork Production

From on the farm to on your table, there are many different stages that South Dakota pork producers commit to, to ensure that they are producing high-quality, safe, and sustainable pork products, all while prioritizing the well-being of their animals. By understanding the stages of pork production, you can gain a better insight into the dedication and care that goes into every step of the process.

  1. Breeding and Gestation. The pork process all begins with responsible breeding. Producers carefully select superior breeding animals and then typically utilize artificial insemination to allow for controlled and precise breeding. After successful mating, sows, which are female pigs that have had at least one litter of piglets and gilts, enter the gestation period. This sow carries her piglets for approximately three months, three weeks, and three days.
  1. Farrowing and Birth. When the gestation period ends, these sows and gilts are moved to specialized farrowing houses equipped with comfortable crates or pens to offer a safe environment for both the sow, gilt, and her piglets. Sows and gilts, on instinct, build nests to protects their young. The average litter size ranges from about 10 to 14 piglets.
  1. Nursery. Once the piglets are born, they are given around three weeks after birth until they are weaned away from their mother’s milk and transferred to nursery barns. Here, they receive a balanced diet and warm, clean environment to protect them from external influences and to continue promoting healthy growth. They are monitored very closely.
  1. Growing and Finishing. As the pigs continue to mature, they are moved to larger facilities known as finishing barns. These barns give the pigs a little more room to move around freely, and still getting regular and monitored care to continue a healthy growth. Regular veterinary care and vaccinations are provided throughout this stage to ensure health and well-being.
  1. Quality Assurance and Welfare. The first thing that South Dakota pork producers prioritize is animal welfare and quality assurance practices. Farmers adhere to industry standardsand regulations to ensure the highest standards of animal care, handling, and hygiene throughout all stages of production. Regular audits and assessments are conducted to monitor and improve production practices, minimizing stress on the animals and promoting their well-being.
  1. Processing and Distribution. Once pigs have reached their desired weight, they are sent to processing facilities where they are processed into various pork cuts and products. These facilities adhere to strict federally regulated food safety standard that ensure the quality and safety of the pork products. After processing, the pork is distributed to markets, grocery stores, and restaurants to make it easily accessible for consumers.

The journey from farm to fork involves a series of stages that South Dakota pork producers undertake to provide safe, nutritious, and of course - delicious, pork to their consumers. By prioritzing animal welfare, following best practices, and maintaining quality assurance protocols, these dedicated farmers contribute to a sustainable and thriving pork industry. The next time you enjoy a piece of bacon for breakfast, make sure to remember the effort and care that went into its production by South Dakota’s pork producers.