O’Connell Organic Acres with Kevin O’Connell

You grew up on your family farm, but how did you get started with your own pork operation?
I went to college for awhile, and then I got a job welding. My brother Chris had already started with his organic, grass-fed beef operation but I didn’t have any land of my own. Hogs don’t take as much land, so it seemed like a good way to get started. Hogs mature more quickly than cattle, so it’s easier for me to keep up with demand and get product to market.

How do you raise your hogs?
My hogs are pastured in the summer and fed organic hay over the winter. I’m getting my operation certified organic in December. The grass-fed pork has higher amounts of omega-3s and the meat is a little redder, more marbled.

Where do you get your meat processed?
It’s a challenge finding processing facilities that will process certified organic meats. I also want to keep my products free from MSG and nitrates, so that’s another struggle. Lena Made Meats in Illinois processes some of the products, and Eichman’s Meats does our smoking without the artificial additives. Transporting our products long distances for this type of processing is one reason these products are more expensive.

What’s next for your operation?
We’ve had lots of customers request chicken, so I’ve got 200 chicks right now that will allow us to sell certified organic chicken meat. I’ve already got the hutches and enclosures built so we can raise the chickens outdoors.

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