Waukon Feed Ranch hosts delegation of pork industry professionals from China


In awe of the grain operation ... Members of a delegation of pork industry professionals from China who visited Waukon Feed Ranch Friday, June 8 have details of the most recent grain leg and bin addition at the Waukon Feed Ranch Agronomy Center explained to them by Waukon Feed Ranch Agronomy Center Assistant General Manager Daniel Dykstra. The visitors from China were in Iowa for the World Pork Expo in Des Moines and toured all aspects of the Waukon Feed Ranch, in addition to W&M Ag, one of the farrowing facilities operated by Waukon Feed Ranch. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

Explaining the grain handling system ... Waukon Feed Ranch Agronomy Center Assistant General Manager Daniel Dykstra explains the grain handling and drying automation system at the Agronomy Center located west of Waukon to a group of Chinese pork industry professionals during their tour of the Waukon Feed Ranch facilities Friday, June 8. The delegation from China was impressed with the streamlined efficiency of the system. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

Handling with care ... A couple members of a delegation of pork industry representatives from China (at right) have their photo taken with Waukon Feed Ranch Swine Business Manager Jeff Monk (left) and a couple of young pigs while touring the W&M Ag farrowing facility operated in Dorchester by Waukon Feed Ranch. The delegation toured all aspects of Waukon Feed Ranch while in Iowa for the World Pork Expo. Submitted photo.

by Joe Moses

A group of pork industry professionals from China visited the Waukon Feed Ranch Agronomy Center and the W&M Ag pork production facility managed by Waukon Feed Ranch Friday, June 8. The delegation of pork industry professionals was visiting businesses in conjunction with the World Pork Expo being held in Des Moines June 6-8 to learn more about the U.S. pork industry’s production methods and to make comparisons to methods currently being used in China.

The delegation included representatives of several Chinese companies including New Hope Liuhe Co., Twins Group, Huanshan Group, Sichuan Dekang Husbandry Company, Hunan Paper Mulberry Agri-Tech Development Company, Anhui Delin Farm Management Company, and Guangdong Nanmu Company (a Wens Group company).

The Chinese delegation, accompanied by Wayne Gregg, Sales Manager at L.B. White, toured the Waukon Feed Ranch Agronomy Center west of Waukon, with Daniel Dykstra, Assistant General Manager of that facility, discussing and answering questions related to the various aspects of the operation. Dykstra provided a tour of the grain storage operation, including the grain dump, corn dryer and control room. The delegation from China indicated that the average grain farm in China is approximately 1.5 acres with agronomy, grain services and retailers serving them at a smaller scale accordingly. Dykstra indicated that Waukon Feed Ranch has a storage capacity of over three million bushel and that the company’s system is completely automated allowing control from a single touch screen computer or tablet.

In touring the agronomy facilities, including dry fertilizer storage, blending facility, liquid and chemical storage, seed shed and agronomy application equipment, the delegation from China shared that they were surprised by the size and scale of storage and equipment. Dykstra discussed the process of dry fertilizer application including the ability to blend to a specific prescription and variable application to meet the exact needs of a field.

In touring the mill, the delegation from China was impressed by the volume of feed produced at over 110,000 tons per year through an automated process requiring only a minimum of one to two employees to be present while manufacturing feed. The delegation from China was  also impressed by the truck wash system and the investment in place for such protection of livestock.

The group commented that the livestock industry in China has and continues to grow with farms of a similar scale to those in the U.S., although members admitted the scale and size of their grain industry, farms and infrastructure has not grown to the U.S. level yet.

Following completion of the Agronomy Center tour, Dykstra commented, “Agriculture has a way of shrinking the world. While China seems to be worlds away, they are one of the biggest customers not only for the U.S. as a whole but also for us right here in northeast Iowa.”
Dykstra further offered, “It was a fun and rewarding experience hosting this group of Chinese agricultural industry representatives. Even in the limited time we had with them, we formed a bond and camaraderie while comparing and contrasting our methods.  While their operations might look slightly different than ours, we share the same goals of producing the best products we can while being good stewards. That is the cool part of agriculture, it transcends language and cultural barriers.”

The delegation from China then toured the W&M Ag farrowing unit near Dorchester with the involvement of Waukon Feed Ranch Owner Brad Herman, Swine Business Manager Jeff Monk and, leading the tour, W&M Manager Rose Onsgard.

Members of the delegation from China indicated that swine farms in their country are being built to a similar size as those in the U.S. but the U.S. level of production is impressive at 30 pigs per sow per year, with China’s best at 24 pigs per sow per year and an average countrywide at 15 pigs per sow per year, or half of the U.S. production on a per animal basis. The group from China represented roughly 25 million pigs being brought to market per year, which equates to roughly one-third of the total pigs marketed in the U.S. annually. The delegates from China reminded those providing the tour that 60% of the pigs worldwide are in China and that the U.S. only accounts for 10% of the world’s pig population.

Following the tour of W&M Ag, Herman commented, “Hog production in China is where we were back in the ‘70s, but what took us 50 years to achieve by way of technology and economies of scale, may only take them 10 to 20 years to reach.”

Herman further shared, “Hog producers are hog producers wherever they are located. The questions they asked were the same questions any U.S. producer asks. How do we achieve higher production and provide our consumer the best value from both price and quality standpoints?”

Along with visiting the Waukon Feed Ranch’s Agronomy Center and the W&M Ag pork production facility managed by Waukon Feed Ranch, the delegation visited several other pig farm operations and equipment suppliers in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. This included L.B. White Co. LLC, a global manufacturer of  heating systems for agriculture and other industries with headquarters in Onalaska, WI; the GSI Group, LLC, a grain storage and drying equipment manufacturer also specializing in a full line of swine and poultry production equipment headquartered in Assumption, IL; and Hog Slat, Inc., a contractor and manufacturer of hog equipment, at their Humboldt location in Iowa.
 

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