For thirty years, Doug Pollema has focused on providing products and services to support family farmers around his business in northwest Iowa.
Doug is a native of Hull, Iowa, and after college he started working as an outside salesman and livestock production representative for Hull Feed & Produce, an independent feed dealer that sold Wayne Feeds and Hubbard Feeds. In 1990, the current owner of the business decided to sell it and Doug was able to buy into the business as an owner.
The business has evolved over the years, but has remained an independent feed dealer with a priority of serving individual family farmers and livestock producers.
Hull Feed & Produce began working with Big Gain Feeds to sell sheep feed to area producers and became a dealer for more of their product lines, including swine.
“We started working more with Big Gain Feeds and expanded product lines that we sold because we felt that Big Gain had the interest of the family farm as a priority as well,” he said. “In the mid-1990s, we were introduced to what Pipestone and Big Gain were doing with sow units owned by individual farmer shareholders.”
In 1997, the Sleepy Hollow sow unit was built near George, Iowa, and it provided an opportunity for northwest Iowa farmers to buy shares into the unit. Several of Hull Feed & Produce swine customers sold their own sow herds to invest in Sleepy Hollow for a consistent sources of weaned pigs, and were able to focus more directly on managing their finishing barns.
Hull Feed & Produce continues to be a full service feed and grain dealership and feed mill that provides custom-mixed products for swine, sheep and calf producers. There are five full-time and several part-time employees. Doug works with Pipestone nutritionists Casey Neill and Jon De Jong for diet formulation for Pipestone shareholder customers and is a dealer for both Big Gain and PGF feed products.
“We are able to partner with individual farmers to help them with specific needs to help them keep livestock barns full,” said Doug. “I believe individual family farms are better for the community, and that aligns well with the Pipestone System model.”
Doug also sees the Pipestone System from a shareholder perspective. He and partners bought shares in the Sleepy Hollow Unit, then again in the Fox Run barn several years later. They built three 1,200 head wean-to-finish barns that they manage.
“The recordkeeping and data management services from Pipestone Grow Finish has been very helpful,” he said, noting that benchmarking performance data helps make better management decisions. He was able to use data from the service to better manage sort loss in his barns.
He markets the majority of his finished pigs through Big Stone Marketing.
“In general, I think we’re able to get a better price for our pigs and it has been a big help in being able to schedule loads of pigs,” said Doug.
He has been married to wife Sandy for 32 years. In addition to the feed business and raising hogs, they own and operate a beef feedlot near Hull. They raised four sons, who each have interest or active roles in raising livestock or in the Hull Feed & Produce business.
The pork industry and production models have changed significantly over the years, but Doug remains a firm believer in the role of livestock production in rural communities and economies.
“Preserving livestock ownership closer to home is good for our communities and families,” he said.
Doug Pollema and family:
(L to R):
Darin and Lisa with daughter Hudsyn, Justin, Doug and Sandy, Shae and Kyle, Jessica and Brody with sons Clayton and Bryson standing in front.