Patsches have 30-plus year career in hog industry

WELCOME, Minn. - Charles Patsche was looking for more flexibility thandairy farming provided when he started working for a neighbor in 1974.

The Patsche family from Welcome are the Minnesota Pork Industry 2012 Family of the Year. Pictured, back row from left: Dion Montgomery, Kirsteena Patsche, Marcus Eytcheson. Middle row: Teresa Montgomery, Charles Patsche, Wanda Patsche, Alisa Eytcheson. Front row: Jadyn and Cadence Montgomery.

WELCOME, Minn. - Charles Patsche was looking for more flexibility than dairy farming provided when he started working for a neighbor in 1974.

The neighbor, Dr. Daniel Skow, a veterinarian, had a farrow-to-feeder pig operation, selling hogs at 40 pounds to another producer or through a local auction market.

Patsche worked for Skow for a few years before he and Wanda married and they purchased his herd of 50 sows and rented his farm place.

Wanda was a city girl who knew nothing about farming.

"I had to learn a lot," she said.


Together, they grew the sow herd to 96 and purchased the farm. They farrowed in 24 crates in the old red barn bedded with oat straw and raised feeder pigs. The boar line was Farmers Hybrid from Algona, Iowa.

The sows gestated outdoors in portable shelters. The sows had a pecking order, with the bigger, pushier sows getting all the feed and others growing thin because they didn't get enough to eat.

A desire to do a better job of caring for each individual sow led them to build their first gestation and nursery building in 1983, Wanda said. It had 120 individual stalls.

They began doing hand mating and knew the exact due date. No more guessing based upon when the boar was in the pen with the sows. There were fewer

abortions. Extreme weather was no longer a challenge as the animals were housed indoors.

They were fortunate that another gestation barn was going up in the neighborhood at the same time, Charles said. They visited the other barn and made modifications to their plan.

"We knew we had to make it work," he said.

The couple continued to grow their herd of PIC Camborough sows and invest in more buildings, always touring other barns before building to see what they liked and what they could improve upon.


The Patsches grew their herd to 300 some sows and added hired labor to help with the workload. In 1985, they rented their first finishing space.

Prior to that, they had sold feeder pigs.

Soon after renting the finishing space, they began to build finishing barns. They built their last finisher in 1998. They have buildings on their farm place and one off site location.

They farrowed up to 2000.

Then PRRS happened, Charles said.

He and Wanda decided the easiest way to manage PRRS was to convert to finishing.

At first, they purchased isowean hogs on the open market, Wanda said. After three years of that, they realized they needed to look for a more stable source.

That's when they bought into Center Creek Pork in Northrop. They get 2,200 pigs weighing an average of 13 pounds in over a week's time. In about 160 days, they market those hogs at 270 pounds. They have an all in, all out system. They grind their own feed and haul their own manure, but they do get help for loading, hauling and pressure washing.


The couple focuses their attention on the hogs at their farm place, plus their 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans. They have leased out their off site location. Both work full time on the farm now.

Wanda worked off-the-farm in information technology for 19 years and was one of the first people to have computerized farm records. She tested the PigChamp beta version.

"Chuck and Wanda have grown their family and farming operation over the last 30 some years by being focused and working together as part of a team," said Barry Hilgendorf of Preferred Capital Management, in his nomination letter. "They are and will always be valued members of not only the Martin County and Minnesota Pork Producers but agriculture at it's most basic level - the family farm."

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