Jamie Jacobs raises AWA pigs in eastern North Carolina. Jamie grew up farming and learned a lot about agriculture from his father. “We raised a little bit of everything,” Jamie says. “Tobacco, corn, soy, wheat – the major commodities, and also hogs. I’ve always had hogs and I enjoy raising them.” Jamie owns 17 acres and farms some additional family land. “Our soil is mostly Goldsboro-type, so good grazing land. But I do still raise crops and I can feed my corn to the hogs, which works out really well.”
Jamie raises a variety of hog breeds, including Land Race, Yorkshire, Hampshire, and Duroc. “I like these breeds because they’re easy to manage, which is something I breed for specifically,” he explains. Jamie typically runs anywhere from 12–15 sows, with around 150 on the ground at any given time. He staggers production so he has a consistent supply for his market.
Raising hogs outdoors is important to Jamie because he feels it’s better for the hogs, and also works better for him. His best tip for raising hogs successfully is to give them shade and plenty of space to walk around. Jamie’s long term goals are to increase the size of his herd and include additional family members in the business. “It’s a family tradition,” he says. “I learned a lot from my father about raising hogs – fencing, feeding, he really knew how to grow hogs. I hope some of my other family members want to get into it so we could work together. You need help all the time when you have hogs!”
Jamie markets his hogs through the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers’ Association (NCNHGA), a cooperative of AWA hog producers who sell to restaurants, retailers, and food processors throughout the region (Jamie is a particular fan of NCNHGA bacon). Selling through a cooperative can offer many advantages: By aggregating and coordinating supply, for example, the individual family farm members can secure larger market opportunities that would be impossible to achieve on their own. AWA certification is a requirement of NCNHGA membership, and Jamie has been AWA-certified for many years. “I have always had a good experience with the program,” he says.
When asked about hobbies, Jamie says he likes to fish and hunt, but that “the hogs pretty well keep you busy.”