October 30, 2008


University of Nebraska hosts seminars on niche pork production 


To cater to discerning consumers who are picky about the quality of pork they eat, University of Nebraska shines the spotlight on non-conventional ways to rear pigs.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is helping pork producers learn more about niche markets, according to Richard Ness, extension educator focusing on niche pork.


The Extension is co-sponsoring a series of digital farm tours with Iowa State University that will cover niche pork and would develop educational materials to be available through the Internet.


For many people, pork developed through niche markets represents quality, Ness said.


The primary focus of niche pork production focus on not giving pigs antibiotics, hormones or animal byproducts and not raising them in gestation or farrowing crates.


Niche pork farming are more popular with pig farmers who rear a small number of pigs, he noted.


The growth in the alternative swine production systems comes from consumer demand for alternatives to commodity pork, he said.


Other niche producers focus on the pig breed rather than the rearing methods, he added.


Currently, the bulk of Nebraska's niche pork farmers sell their animals to Niman Ranch, a niche food business that has a pork processing plant in western Iowa. Klint Stewart, Nebraska's field agent for Niman, said there are about 40 active niche pork farmers in the state who sell their pork to Niman. 


The pork fetch attractive prices- double that in traditional grocery stores.


Another drawing factor is the low starting cost for such unconventional rearing systems, given a lower floor price in times of flagging demand.

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