To call Brian Martin a pig farmer would be technically correct, but vastly misleading. Martin is president and owner of Williamsport, Ind.-based Martin Family Farms LLC, which raises about 350,000 pigs per year and boasts $15 million in sales. To raise so many pigs, the company holds 14,000 sows, which may seem like a lot but the corporate behemoths in the business might have more than 1 million sows.
Still, Martin Family Farms is very specialized, focused almost entirely on farrowing, which is birthing the pigs, so by the time the piglets are three weeks old most of them are sold. This specialization is, in itself, relatively new technologically because in the old days the piglets stayed with the moms. The change occurred because farmers realized when you take the piglets away and raise them elsewhere it reduces the chance of disease, which is the biggest risk in the pig business.
Secondly, Martin Family Farms has decreased the usage of restrictive gestation stalls, a