Kind to swine

Angie Satterwhite makes former 4-H hobby a business

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It took only a couple of years for Angie Satterwhite to go from showing pigs at the Moffat County Fair to owning and operating her own swine business in Craig.

Satterwhite has been raising crossbred pigs in her two buildings west of town since July, but she has plenty of experience when it comes to the animals.

"I showed pigs at the fair when I was in 4-H. I went to the state fair and some national shows," she said. "We used to have sows and we would sell a lot of pigs in the spring to kids wanting to show them. Now it's set up a little better. It's warm in here in the fall and winter."

Many requests from local children looking for pigs to show at the fair helped with the decision to raise the animals.

Although her showing days are behind her, Satterwhite is still quite busy during the fair. Because of her experience, youths showing pigs seek her out for advise.

"I like helping kids with their 4-H projects," she said. "Most kids have a lot of fun with them. I try to help them get ready to show."

The business is time consuming, and Satterwhite can only smile when asked about vacation time.

When she had one or two pigs, she could take some time off. Now, she is responsible for 30 grown animals, in addition to three babies and one boar that are being raised in her barns.

She wakes at 5:30 a.m. or earlier to feed and tend to the animals. They also eat in the evening.

Satterwhite feeds the pigs a mixture of corn and soybean meal that contains vitamins and minerals. She buys the corn locally and grinds the mixture herself at a grinding machine powered by a tractor.

"We go through a lot of feed, that's for sure," she said. "About 200 pounds a day, give or take a little."

The animals have automatic watering devices that keep the water fresh and flowing year round.

They get fed a higher protein feed when they are small. The babies she has now were born in July and are already nearing 100 pounds.

A calendar hanging on the wall keeps track of days for breeding and dates when vaccinations are due.

Her sows produce about 10 litters every four weeks, she said. Eight to 10 pigs are born to a litter, and Satterwhite sells some and keeps a few to grow in her barns.

The boar that was born recently will be kept and used for breeding next spring. He will be used to prepare the sows for breeding, but they will be artificially inseminated when the time is right.

It takes 114 days for inseminated sows to produce a litter of babies, she said -- exactly three months, three weeks and three days.

Outside animals are not allowed into the barns until they pass a 30-day quarantine to insure their health.

The sow barn stays near 65 degrees through the winter, which helps keep the pigs healthy.

Fans pull out moisture from below the barns to keep them dry.

The farrowing house, where the sows and babies are kept, has special crates that allow the small piglets to escape to the sides when the sow lies down.

There are heat lamps to keep the newborns warm.

Satterwhite's buildings are mounted on skids, and are occasionally pulled back to allow for cleaning below the grated floors.

At about 6 months old, the pigs will be ready for butchering, and will have reached a weight of between 250 and 260 pounds.

Satterwhite generally gets from $120 to $140 a head for the animals, and she has connections in the meat packing industry.

Her father, Dave, and uncle, Bob, own Brothers Custom Processing, and they take care of packaging the processed pigs.

In the fall, every spare minute of Satterwhites time is taken up by working at Brothers, which also processes big game animals for hunters.

She often works until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. during hunting season. She comes home at lunch to grind feed for the pigs.

It's very different than her time spent in the 4-H swine program. She rarely names a pig, and isn't really sad when it's time to bid farewell to a sow.

Sometimes after the fair, a youngster will return the pig to Satterwhite's care when they can't take care of it anymore. She is happy to help out in a case such as that, because that's what got her started in the business.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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