Around 200 people gathered under a large tent on the north edge of Brookings on a blustery October afternoon to celebrate the beginning of what South Dakota State University (SDSU) is calling ‘A new era for the swine industry.’
The occasion was the groundbreaking, Oct. 3, for SDSU’s new swine education and research facility, and it drew the likes of South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, as well as SDSU President David L. Chicoine, students, donors and representatives of the pork industry.
“People who think they might be interested in livestock agriculture in South Dakota and particularly in swine, they’ll come to a place like this and say, ‘Wow, this is state of the art,’” Daugaard said. “This is where I want to come. This is where I want to learn.’”
The estimated $5.7 million project includes the addition of three new complexes, two of which will be located on the site of the groundbreaking and one at a location yet to be determined. Three previous barns were torn down to make way for the two new buildings and an existing sow barn and hoop barn will remain. Construction of the new structures is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by spring 2016.
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From Dairy to Pork
Brian Majerus has stayed pretty close to home, having lived and worked in the Lakefield area all of his life.
The 1989 Lakefield High School grad grew up working on his family’s dairy farm south of town.
“I started raising pigs in 2002-2003,” Majerus said. “I was involved in both 4-H and FFA while in high school, but with dairy cattle, not too much with hogs. It was mostly about dairy cattle.”
Majerus bought an acreage just three miles from the place where he grew up. It had one old hog barn on it, he said.
“I got hooked up with the FCA (Co-op) in Jackson with Jerry Svoboda and got me some pigs out here and just went from there,” Majerus said. “I started with a 500-head barn. Now I am hooked in with a guy out in Nebraska. He farrows his own pigs and I feed them out. I don’t get them in as nursery pigs; I get them in as feeder pigs here. My home site is mostly feeder pigs too.”
Majerus has two sites — one is a 2,500-head site at his place and the second is a 4,000-head site near Jackson.