Saturday, March 25, 2023
Submitted Photo A hog barn at the Toquam Family Farm.Submitted Photo Access to the hog barns is limited as it is a secure area, designed to keep the animals safe and healthy.

Toquam Family Farm provides quality pork to consumers

Roger and Rhonda Toquam built their first hog barn in 1993. They added their second barn in 1998 and today Toquam Family Farm raises about 10,000 pigs a year, said Roger and Rhonda’s son Isaiah Toquam, who now oversees the hog raising portion of the farm.

The farming operation includes Roger and Rhonda, and their three sons, Isaiah, Brennan and Josh and one hired worker. Grandpa Orlo Torquam also helps out, he said.

“We are finishers,” Torquam said. That means that they get the hogs when they are feeder pigs of 50 to 60 pounds and raise them to their market weight of 280 to 300 pounds. That process, he said, takes four-and-a-half to five months.

Like most area hog operations, the Toquams are contract finishers. The family owns the barns, he explained, but they finish the pigs for Holden Farms in Northfield. Most of the hogs they raise, he said, ultimately go to Tyson in Waterloo, although some go to JBS, also in Iowa.

The hogs are raised in barns with strict biosecurity where they are protected from disease and from natural predators. Feed bins at each barn ensure there is always food for the animals and water is also always available.

The barns are equipped with alarms and if the power goes out a standby generator which runs off of LP starts in 10-15 seconds.

Alarms also alert the Toquams if there are problems with the well and high or low temperatures. Misters can spray water on the pigs and as they have curtain side barns the curtains can be raised or lowered depending on the weather.

“It’s safer for the pigs,” Toquam said of the operation.

Raising hogs is not the only farming operation for the Toquams.

They also do crop farming, he said, basically a 50-50 rotation between corn and soybeans.

Most of the beans raised are sent to CHS or ADM in Mankato where the beans are processed into pig food.

Much of the corn goes to the Bixby Feed Mill where it is processed. As the Toquam’s buy feed from the Bixby Mill some of it does come back to them as food for their animals. Some of the corn also goes to Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont where it is processed into ethanol and other by-products.

In addition to providing pork for consumers as well as the ethanol made at Al-Corn, farms such as the Toquams also helps the general economy of the area, Toquam said.

While they sell corn to the Bixby Feed Mill, they also buy pig food from the mill. They recently installed new curtains on their barns, he said, which were purchased from a local company out of Waltham. The LP gas they use comes from Hayfield and other parts for repairs of the barns are bought from a company in Blooming Prairie. They produce a product, pork, but also buy locally and help the local economy.

The local farming operations, he said, benefit everyone, even if they do not have hogs to raise.

PHOTO:  Submitted Photo The Toquam family. Seated on the couch left to right are Brennen Toquam, his son Nolan, and grandfather Orlo Toquam. Standing, left to right are Josh, Roger, and Isaiah.



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