By LIZ VERLEY, Staff Writer
Dedicated as a Century Farm in 1981, Anderson Farms, located near Belgrade, now has fourth and fifth generations running the diversified business.
Brothers Jim and John Anderson and Jim’s sons, Grant and Noah, take on the responsibilities of running the beef, hog and crop enterprise. Jim’s son, Isaac, will soon be joining his father, uncle and brothers in the business.
Jim said, “John, Grant, Noah and I meet every Monday morning to plan our week. We are hands on participants. We don’t sit in the office. Each one has a part of the routine that they like, and they take care of that. But, when needed, we all work on everything.”
Jim returned to the farm in 1975 to work with his father and John. When their father passed away, the two brothers took over the farm.
Approximately 2,300 to 2,400 beef cattle, 50,000 to 55,000 hogs and 5,000 acres of kidney beans, sugar beets and corn were raised and harvested on the farm this year.
Jim said, “We brought irrigation to the farm in the 1970s. Prior to that, you could not raise grain because the soil is very sandy.”
The beef raised on the farm are purchased from herds in Montana and South Dakota. Purchased when they are 10 months old, the Angus cattle are hormone free and are brought to the feedlot at the farm in two groups. The first group comes to the farm in February and is raised until September. The second group is pastured in South Dakota, comes to the farm in September and is kept until February.
Jim said it takes 15 to 22 months to raise the animals for market. They are shipped to P.M. Beef at Windom and from there the meat is shipped to Europe.
An independent company tracks each animal from birth to make sure there are no hormones used in the raising process.
Jim said the Europeans are very specific in not wanting meat with hormones.
The hog facilities include farrow to finishing barns. The herd consists of 2,500 sows allowing for the shipping of 1,000 hogs per week.
“When I came home from college we had 50 to 60 sows, and they were outside. The biggest change I have seen in hog production is raising them now in high health closed herd confinement facilities. We started this process on the farm in 1996,” said Jim.
“Everyone raises hogs in closed barns now. The herds are healthier. If you don’t have a healthy herd, it is hard to make money,” said Jim.
It takes five and one-half to six months from farrowing to shipping an average hog at 270 pounds. The majority of Anderson’s hogs go to Tyson Food at Storm Lake, Iowa.
The Andersons also own the elevator in Belgrade where their feed is ground. “It would be impossible for us to raise all the feed for all the livestock we raise,” said Jim.
Jim and his wife, Sue, have been married 33 years and besides their sons, they have a daughter, Rachel.
John and his wife, Shirley, have two daughters, Lauren and Erin.
No matter what precautions one takes on the farm, unexpected incidents can set one back.
Jim said, “Hogs have been the most profitable enterprise over the years but things can and do go wrong.”
Ten years ago, the Andersons lost their main farrowing barn by fire.
Four years ago their herd was hit with a virus that causes a disease in pigs, called porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).
This economically important, pandemic disease causes reproductive failure in breeding stock and respiratory tract illness in young pigs.
Jim said, “PRRS is to a pig what AIDS is to humans. We had to get rid of the entire herd and start over. Some producers just keep giving more and more medication to try and fix the problem, but in the end, it may reoccur.
“We work very hard to keep diseases out of our herd. We have our own truck wash. Before a truck comes to the barns, it is completely
Jim said, “Livestock farmers are a valuable part of the community, providing work for employees on the farm, plus business for suppliers, veterinarians, equipment stores, builders, trucking, etc.”
The Andersons have 15 full-time and six half-time employees.