Johnson County Farm Bureau and Nebraska Farm Bureau Board member Nathan Bartels is no stranger to agriculture. He and his wife JoLene live on a farm near Elk Creek, Neb., and over the years the operation has been involved in many aspects of production agriculture. When Nathan first began farming in the mid-’80s, he focused his efforts on feeder pigs and row crops. As the years went on and after struggling through some rough times in the late ’90s , the operation has adapted to focus on custom hog farrowing while the land is under leased production. The Bartels look after 750 sows and produce 300 piglets per week that go to wean-to-finish barns in Kansas.
Disease control is an aspect of the farrowing operation that Bartels takes special pride in. Although it’s important in any livestock operation, it is always top-of-mind for hog producers. For the last 11 years of producing hogs, the facilities have been disease-free – no PRRS or mycoplasma and the veterinarian comes every month to conduct routine testing. Nathan stresses the importance of careful monitoring of who enters the hog facilities as well keeping the premises sanitary. Animal comfort and well-being is also vital on the Bartels farm. The hogs are raised in conditions that keep their comfort in mind and include such amenities as rubber mats that allow the new piglets to stay warmer while the sow stays cooler.
Nathan is optimistic about what the future holds for those who are pursuing a career in farming. With the present high value of row crops, many acres of ground are coming out of the CRP program and being planted to row crops, giving young farmers new to agriculture access to ground previously unavailable. He also says that working together helps everyone involved.
The couple has four children: Katie, Taylor, Wade, and Kaycee; JoLene works as a radiology technologist at the hospital in Beatrice and grew up in Omaha