(Des Moines) — During the Iowa Pork Congress annual awards banquet, a Le Mars pork producer was honored with the recognition of being named a “Master Pork Producer.” Bill and Joan Tentinger of Le Mars was bestowed the honor at an awards ceremony Wednesday evening. They were among eight different pork producers across the state given the title. The Tentingers have been raising hogs for the past 50 years. As young newlyweds, the Tentingers started with 20 sows at the time, and finished out the pigs. Today, they have a wean-to-nursery operation. That wean-to-nursery operation gets its pigs from across the United States and even from Canada. They market between 45,000 to 50,000 pigs annually using contract growers and facilities they own. The Tentingers have experienced a half century of changes. Bill says a pork producer needs to keep up with the changes within the pork industry in order to remain viable.
In the early days, the Tentingers farrowed sows on the pasture during the summertime. But, despite being a small-sized operation, they pushed to evolve with the industry. In 1973, they built a confinement finishing barn at the farm where Bill was raised. They increased their sow herd and continued as a farrow-to-finish operation. In 1986, they remodeled an old horse barn on their property, installing 27 raised farrowing crates. In 1993, they built a gestation barn, and updated their farrowing facilities, and increased farrowing to 72 sow batches every five weeks. That update brought all gestation, breeding and farrowing under one roof. The following year, they added gestation stalls, and they moved from natural mating to artificial insemination. At that time, they decided to concentrate on farrowing and sold weaned pigs, and later changed to using contract growers for nursery and finish needs. They increased their finished numbers by purchasing additional weaned pigs to put on feed in separate facilities. They stopped farrowing in 2018. The Tentingers grow the corn and soybeans that are fed to their hogs.
Bill currently serves on the National Pork Board that oversees the pork check-off program. He has been on the Iowa Pork Producers Association Board of Directors for the past 15 years, and was president of the organization in 2012.
(Thanks to the Iowa Pork Producers Association for their contributions for this story.)