A few weeks back we had a special guest at our hog farm, it was FREDBIRD from the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. The St. Louis Cardinals, and left-fielder, Matt Holliday, are teaming up with Missouri Farmer’s Care for their “Safe at the Plate” campaign. The campaign highlights the great strides farmers take to meet the nation’s growing nutritional needs. The goal of this Missouri Farmers Care initiative is to increase consumer understanding of how today’s farmers are using the latest technology to provide reliable, affordable, nutritious food.
As you might imagine, our kids were excited to meet Fredbird and have him on our farm. Fredbird showed up on a weaning day. Weaning days are one of the busiest days on our farm, so we put Fredbird to work. Fredbird helped us count the pigs and move them to the trailer so my dad could haul the pigs to the nursery.
Next, Fredbird learned how to properly move a sow (female hog that has given birth). Conner and Rachelle had fun showing Fredbird the right way to move a sow. He had a hard time understanding that flapping his wings only scared the hogs and that when he stood in front of the small pigs; he only made them run the wrong way. He quickly figured out he needed to stand behind the pigs if he wanted to move them forward.
After the weaning was done and the sows were moved out of the farrowing house, it was lunch time. The hogs need to eat too so we went to our feed mill where Fredbird learned how we make the hog feed.
Fredbird was amazed to see all the technology we use on the farm and at the feed mill. He wanted to make feed but he had a really hard time not punching buttons for the fun of it.
He wanted to make all the different lights on the control panel come on but he learned really quickly what happens when you hit the wrong button…..the alarm goes off alerting us there is a problem.
The loud alarm really ruffled his feathers! Poor Fredbird!
Fredbird got to see first hand how many details go into making hog feed. He learned we use corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals to make hog feed and that we have over 10 different diets we feed to the hogs as they grow. He also was amazed by the precautions we take at the mill and on the farm to keep our environment clean and our animals safe. Before Fredbird could go in the barn, he had to scrub his feet and put on clean clothes, he chose a pair of overalls. He looked good in the overalls Conner thought.
Fredbird learned about bio-security on our farm, which means how clean we keep our farm. We protect our hogs from the harsh weather we have in Missouri, since hogs can’t sweat we have computers that control the climate inside our hog barns. It’s like having air conditioning. We also protect our hogs from predator attacks and diseases tracked by wildlife like birds and racoons. Fredbird had fun taunting the other birds who were not allowed in our barns because they can spread many diseases to our hogs. (To keep the birds out of our barns we use chicken wire to cover the walkways, windows and curtain openings).
Fredbird watched closely as the semi trucks were being loaded at the feed mill to take feed to the farm. He even took the time to tease a few of the drivers. Fredbird begged my father-in-law to make him some bird feed but we didn’t have a recipe for Fredbird feed.
We had a great time hosting Fredbird at our farm. St. Louis Cardinal baseball fans will get to see a video of Fredbird’s trip to our farm this summer at the stadium during the games. We hope the fans will enjoy watching Fredbird being a ‘ham’ at our farm.
Our family will never forget the day Fredbird came to work at the farm. His fun jokes and his great sense of humor will be talked about on our farm for a long time to come.