Starting as a teenager, Ryan Weinkauf has taken a step by step approach to raising pigs and building his farming operation. Ryan grew up as the third generation on his family’s farm just outside of Pipestone, Minnesota. “Dad started raising pigs in the 1970s and 1980s in an old barn, then modernized the barn and hog house and raised pigs until 1999,” said Ryan. “From 1999 until today, I have been raising pigs in one form or another.” Ryan Weinkauf
He raises corn, soybeans and hay with his father, Curt, who is semi-retired, and finishes about 10,000 pigs a year. Ryan was in high school when his father started scaling back on his farrow to finish hog operation, so Ryan began raising his own farrow-to-finish pigs in his father’s old barns and also started buying feeder pigs from a neighbor. “I operated that way for several years, but the facilities were getting old, so I knew I needed to do something,” he said.
In 2007, he became a contract grower for a pig ownership group put together by Pipestone System, then in 2011, he became a shareholder. He now owns shares in both the Fox Run and Goose Lake sow farms and finishes about 10,000 pigs each year. “I started as a contract grower because it was a big step to go ‘all in’ in building a barn and buying shares all at once. I stair-stepped into it while still raising pigs farrow to finish on my own,” said Ryan. “Once I felt I had contract growing under control, I decided to take the next step and buy shares into a sow barn.” Ryan said that working with the Pipestone System has made his transition process easier. “Pipestone offers the opportunity to start where you are able to, then invest and go as far as you want with pig production,” he said. Having grown up near Pipestone, he has a long relationship with the veterinarians at the Pipestone Veterinary Services.
“My dad and grandpa always worked with the vet clinic and I remember Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Spronk coming out and working with sick animals,” said Ryan. “I have always worked with the clinic for veterinary services and Dr. Barry Kerkaert was key in me getting started with contract feeding.” Today, Dr. Scott VanderPoel is the primary veterinarian for Ryan’s farm. He also works with Pipestone Grow Finish for nutrition services, detailed records, and technical expertise from a grow-finish field supervisor. “Having someone who can provide support on time-consuming administrative tasks and paperwork is a big help, and allows me more time to be in the barns and do a better job managing the pigs,” he said.
Ryan and his girlfriend, Cassandra, have a seven-month-old son, Jaxson. He looks forward to continuing to grow his farming operation and look for new opportunities for the farm that his grandfather bought in 1938