Mechanical Contracting to Hog Farmer. The Business of Raising Pastured Hogs on 90 Acres. (PVP014)

Why aren’t more people raising pastured hogs?

Because it’s really hard work.  It takes a lot of time and dedication.

John Backes of Circle B Ranch joins me to talk about raising pastured hogs on 90 acres in Missouri.  John didn’t come from a farming background.  He transitioned into farming in 2009 with his wife Marina after leaving a career in mechanical contracting.  They set out to produce high quality food while focusing on the welfare and humane treatment of their hogs.

For anyone looking to start raising pastured hogs, John suggests looking for land based on the way that you intend to operate and manage your hogs.   He would prefer center alleyway access to the property, and likes land that has a 50/50 pasture to woodland split.  That land shouldn’t be completely flat, because you are going to need wallows for the pigs to cool off in. 

How many sows should you get? He thinks you need 25 to 30 working sow to support a family of 4.  And he likes the Berkshire for a good pasture raised hog because they are hardy, docile, and pretty much self-sufficient.  John looks at the current market sees a lot of opportunity in the natural foods market where the demand way exceeds the supply.


Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • Be steadfast with pricing.  Stay away from brokers, sale barns, and commodity pricing.
  • Stresses the importance of educating and connecting with the customer base.  That involves a lot of marketing  your own product through tools like social media.
  • Pick a spouse that is a good compliment to your skills as a farm.  It’s a team effort.
  • Stress affects meat quality.  So try to minimize the animal’s stress.
  • Maintain good relationships with the hogs.  Keep them calm because ultimately they are big and you want them working with you.

John & Marina Backes

John & Marina Backes




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 More information about John Backes and Circle B Ranch:

Circle B Ranch

Circle B Ranch on Facebook





A Few Questions with Marina & John Backes [INTERVIEW] from The Local Harvest Dish

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