Gage County Farm Bureau member Scott Spilker goes to work on his hog farm humming a tune. Pork production is a farming tradition passed down from his father and grandfather, so Scott decided to attend the University of Nebraska Lincoln and major in animal science to learn more about livestock. He worked in the feed business for about seven years after school, and then the opportunity arose for him to come back to the farm. He has farmed in partnership with his father for the past 26 years.
When he first started in the pork industry, he was a farrow to finish operation, farrowing approximately 200 sows. In 2002 the facilities were showing their age, so Scott and his dad converted the farrowing operation to a nursery. He and his farming partners built a 2,500-sow farrowing operation near Washington, Kan., where he gets his young stock for the nursery. He sells 5,000-6,000 head of finishing hogs per year and raises enough crops to feed those hogs.
Scott says Nebraska ranks 6th nationally in pork production – in 2009 there were a total of 3.3 million head – and Gage County is in the top 10 pork producing counties in the state. He tells us a little more about his commitment to producing a safe, healthy product for dinner tables in Nebraska and across the United States.
Scott and his wife Jean have three children – Anna, a senior at Doane College; Nathan – 14 and Johnny – 12. Jean is from a farm north of Schuyler, Neb., and her family was involved with farmers markets for years, so she’s no stranger to the farm life. Scott says the best thing about being in agriculture is “the opportunity to provide safe food for the consumer and it’s a good place to raise a family.”
Scott’s farm is just a few miles out of Beatrice, Neb., and next door to a newly built hospital, so he says he’s doubly aware of being neighborly, keeping odors to a minimum, and being transparent about what he does on the farm. Some consumers may categorize his operation as “big”, but Scott says he truly is a family farm.
And the tunes you’ll hear him humming as he heads off to work may come from his long history in music – he was in the marching band at UNL, is currently in a quartet called the Conchords, and also directs the Homestead Harmonizers which is a barbershop chorus in Beatrice, Neb.