Pork Mentor Learns the ‘Ins and Outs’ of Farmland Foods

By Jessica Barncastle, 2010 Pork Mentor

The 2010 Pork Mentoring Class took a tour of the Farmland Foods plant in Crete, Nebraska and I became extremely interested in the inner workings of the hog processing plant. Once the tour was over, I couldn’t wait to work with some of the good folks at Farmland to learn more during one of my professional shadowing experiences!

The first few hours of my shadowing experience were full of paperwork. The Farmland Foods employee that I shadowed showed me the write-ups he did each and every day and explained to me how the numbers were significant. He entered information into his computer about the trucks that came in, the number of hogs, the producers they came from, and how much was paid for each truck.  He has two reports to do every day. One was for the information from the day before, and the other was for the information of that day. He also takes the information he received about the hogs that pertained to live weight, processed weight, loin eye area, back fat, and several other numbers and entered the information into a document for him to send off to the people who worked on the daily and weekly hog reports. Just looking at the numbers upon numbers I knew I would have been lost in mere seconds. He informed me that these records were only for hogs that were bought based on processed weight and that he had to go through every day to take out any hogs bought only on off the truck basis. 

Once the hog reports were sent off, I learned a little bit about the daily truck sheets that they had to complete.  These sheets told us at one glance what kind of purchase the hogs were, where they were coming from, which truck was bringing them, and what time they were to arrive.  I learned about the differences between the types of hogs that came into Farmland.  Though it was extremely confusing to me at first, I learned about the description of where the hogs were coming from.  After I watched a while longer, I found that I was starting to remember which color corresponded with which type of purchase the hogs were. 

Next, we made our way to the hog barn where we watched a truckload of hogs come in.  A Farmland Foods employee is in charge of checking paperwork, Transport Quality Assurance certificates, matching tattoos with load numbers, and weighing the trucks.  Each load of hogs that came in, were tattoo’d with their own personal load number.  That number was written down on the truck paper so at any time, the hogs could be tracked back to where they came from.  Once the hogs were received, they are allowed to rest before processing, which ensures good pork quality. Finally, the shadow wouldn’t have been complete without a tour of the plant!

My shadowing experience was fantastic and I really enjoyed getting a closer, more personal view of how the pigs are cared for at the plant and then how employees at Farmland Foods are able to make safe and delicious pork products for people to eat.