Right outside of Pipestone, Minnesota, surrounded by fields and plenty of green tractors, you will find Weinkauf Farms. At the heart of this farm is third-generation farmer, Ryan Weinkauf, and his 5-year-old son, Jaxson. Starting his operation in high school, Ryan Weinkauf has been a pig farmer for over 20 years. He began his career by purchasing feeder pigs and moved into wean-to-finish after building his first barn in 2007.
Ryan owns all wean to finish barns and feeds 25,000 pigs each year. He also has two contract growers. Ryan is proud to say that since 2012, his farm has been completely integrated, with 100% of what he grows being fed to his operation. During this time, he has been able to grow his farm strategically and optimize pig care for individual pigs and his entire operation.
Ryan is no stranger to PIPESTONE and has been working with the company for over 15 years. He has maintained a strong connection with many veterinarians, including Dr. Barry Kerkaert and Dr. Scott VanderPoel, the current veterinarian for Weinkauf Farms. Ryan is currently utilizing multiple services PIPESTONE has to offer, including Pipestone Business FarmStats, a record-keeping service to look for opportunities for growth within his operation, Pipestone Nutrition to ensure his pigs are getting the proper nutrients for proper growth, Pipestone Management grow-finish supervisors come out to his farm to give advice on areas of improvement, and he has been using Big Stone Marketing to market his pigs from the beginning. “Without PIPESTONE’s resources, I would not be where I am today. I believe they have made me a better producer,” sand Weinkauf.
Ryan and Dr. Scott VanderPoel’s connection goes much farther than PIPESTONE. They began their friendship at Pipestone Area Schools, where they grew up and graduated in the same class. Their history together only strengthens their bond as producer and veterinarian. Dr. VanderPoel enjoys being able to see Ryan’s operation grow and succeed. Dr. VanderPoel shares, “A big part of Ryan’s success within the pork industry is his daily execution to individual pig care and the attention he gives to each pig’s needs.”
Feeding around 25,000 pigs annually, Weinkauf understands the importance of pig care and is constantly following various protocols and standards to ensure his pigs are in the highest health. When asked about three of the most important aspects of keeping his operation healthy, Ryan emphasizes the importance of biosecurity on farms. It is important to keep the operation clean and follow biosecurity protocols to protect the farm and surrounding farms from disease. He implements an all-in and all-out process for all his barns. This helps reduce the amount of animal traffic in and out to reduce the risk of disease spread.
He also touches on how important it is to be proactive about every detail and issue, no matter how small it may seem. It is important to keep after small issues and do what you can before they turn into something much larger than you are able to manage. The support of PIPESTONE is something Ryan also believes contributes to proper pig care. The support Ryan receives from the company and veterinarians help him find areas of improvement for his operation and help him find areas of improvement for his operation and help him learn more about how he can ensure the highest health for his pigs.
“Ryan does a really good job with individual pig care. He knows that the main goal is to start the pigs well. He does the mat feeding, individual pig care, sick pens and all the basic needs you do to start the pigs well,” said Dr. VanderPoel.
Pig care is vital from when the first pig steps into the barn to when they leave the farm. The first thing Ryan does when a load of weaned pigs comes is make sure they are comfortable. He then checks that their rooms are at the proper temperature, that they have adequate food and water, looks for the pigs that may have been injured on the trip, and will separate the injured pigs to individual pens to assess their injuries and give them the proper care needed. As Ryan leaves the farm for the day, he will do one last check of the barns and then check the feed and water lines. He ensures that the pigs have everything they need until he comes in the next day. Ryan contributes a large part of his success within pig farming to his attention to individual and overall pig care.
“Working with Ryan through the years and seeing his progress in pig care, he does a really good job, and it has been a big part of why he has been successful,” said Dr. VanderPoel.
When Ryan is not busy on the farm, he enjoys being involved within the community and being able to give back to the people. “Not only is he a big part of the operation here, but his involvement in the community is tremendous as well. He helps teach within our company and allows employees to come out to his operation during PIPESTONE’s Pig School,” Dr. VanderPoel said. Pig School is one of Ryan’s favorite ways to be involved with the company by allowing employees to tour his farm and educate them about being a producer and the pork industry. He understands that being a pig farmer gives him a larger role within his community, and he is happy to devote his time to it. He enjoys being able to give back to his community and help where help is needed.
As Weinkauf Farms continues to grow, Ryan strives to create a memorable experience for his son just like his father did when he was his age. He hopes to keep his son involved and share with Jaxson the passion he has for being a pig farmer.
“I hope that he wants to take it over some day. That’s the driving goal to keep going every day and get a little bigger and expand with the hopes that he will want to take it over,” Weinkauf said.
Ryan loves the challenge that is associated with pig farming; he never knows what he is going to find each day and likes staying busy with all that is involved with farming. He wants to share with those unfamiliar with pig farming that pigs are great social animals that provide so much for the community. Producers work hard every day to care for and provide for the animals they care so much for.
“Ryan is a family farmer that has grown tremendously in the last couple of years. It is just great to see his success, determination and desire to also lead to the next generation as we see his son be a part of his operation and his family as well,” Dr. VanderPoel said.
Article by: Hannah Jackson, Marketing Intern, PIPESTONE Video by: Kyra Flom, Website and Digital Specialist, PIPESTONE