Brothers Gary and Gerry Brands of Inwood have been named by the Iowa Pork Producers Association as the 2018 recipients of the Pork All-American Award. They were presented their award at the 2019 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.
The IPPA Pork All-American award was established in 1970 to honor producers under 40 years of age who have established themselves as community leaders and successful and dedicated business people. They have previously been presented with the Master Pork Producer designation. The Brandses won the award in 2009.
The brothers have a sow unit with an internal gilt multiplier system at a barn they built in 2003. They custom farrow pigs in that barn for Idlenot Farms of Larchwood. They also manage swine finishing barns that they bought from their parents.
In addition, the Brandses feed cattle and farm row crops with their parents. While Gary manages most of the swine enterprise, Gerry manages the cattle enterprise, but as with most family farm operations, they help each other out and are the sounding board each needs when it comes to major decision making.
At the unit for internal gilt replacement, the brothers use purebred Yorkshire gilts, females are placed in the gilt development unit (GDU) at weaning and are bred to make the farms’ F-1 crosses. Their sow farm was one of the first in the Lyon county area to incorporate year-around air filtration into their herd biosecurity program, they have seen the continued benefit to herd health since the sow farm became fully filtered in December 2007.
The farm batch farrows, weaning pigs every two weeks. The brothers are responsible for all the genetic evaluations, replacement gilt selection and breeding decisions and do all the daily work themselves. Batch farrowing has made scheduling of part-time help easier and makes it easier to know when an all hands-on deck approach is required.
Despite having different ways of doing things, Gary feels the best thing about working with his brother is that at the end of the day, they have each other’s best interests in mind. Gary said “Knowing that no matter how something gets done, or what gets done, we’re making that decision knowing that it’s not going to just affect just one of us, it’s going to affect the other one, too.”
Gerry added, “We are definitely different personalities, but we complement each other so well.”
Tyler Moser of Idelnot Farm, who nominated them for the award, said “Gary and Gerry have always sought to achieve a high level of production, animal well-being, and environmental stewardship. We are super pleased to see their hard work and dedication recognized with the Pork All-American Award.”
Gary and his wife Heather have three children, and Gerry and his wife Kandace have four children.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension co-sponsor the Master Pork program awards, including the All-American award. Nominations for the 2019 Master Pork Program awards will open in May.