HULL, Iowa — Curt Winters was born to raise pigs.
“I’ve always liked working with animals, and even when I was a kid, raising pigs was all I really wanted to do,” he says.
Winters and his family, which includes his wife Samira and his parents, Lloyd and Norma, run a wean-to-finish operation near here in Sioux County, Iowa. Curt and Samira have three children — Sarah, 10; Elias, 3; and James, 1.
The northwest Iowa farm includes 11 different sites and finishes around 55,000 pigs annually — a number that has doubled since he and his folks were named Master Pork Producers in 2009. Sites are located in Sioux and Lyon counties.
Winters was recognized as the 2022 Pork All-American by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
The family holds an ownership stake in Wholestone Farms, a farmer-owned, pork processing facility in Fremont, Nebraska. Wholestone recently purchased a half interest in Prestage Foods of Iowa in Eagle Grove, with the new operation running under the name of Prestage Wholestone LLC.
Winters uses primarily PIC genetics. They are part of a sow cooperative in South Dakota, and receive 7,200 weaned pigs every six weeks.
“We haven’t seen pigs yet from the sow unit, so this is all pretty new,” Winters says.
Pigs are marketed weekly.
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Winters and his parents also share ownership of ACL Pork with two other producers.
The family used to farrow pigs but stopped four year ago. That means Winters’ role on the farm changed. Instead of day-to-day chores, he is shouldering a lot more of the bookkeeping, financials and executive decision-making, as his parents transition toward retirement.
However, he’s still a barn owner, and he checks in on the pigs as often as he can to make sure facilities are in good working order and that general health is good.
Winters says things are going well, and while he would like to be able to volunteer in the community more, he stays busy with his young family.
“Maybe when they get older I can get more involved,” he says. “I’d love to do that.”
Raising good, healthy, high- quality protein for his young family and the world is something Winters is proud of, and he is passionate about correcting misconceptions.
“Some people just don’t have the information of what actually goes into pork production and how much we love the animals and care for them,” Winters says in an IPPA news release. “They’re not just dollar bills.”
Despite his parents easing into retirement, farming remains a family affair. Winters still leans on his parents for advice.
“It’s been one of the great privileges of my life to be able to go through the joys and challenges of hog farming together with them,” Winters told IPPA. “They get to see the growth and development of our farm and what they’ve labored for so hard, and I hope that, God willing, they’ll be around long enough to perhaps see the next generation come into it.
“I love the pork industry. It’s always been a good fit for me. I’m truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to stay home and farm.”