Organic Prairie's Campbell Family

Jim and Sheila Campbell

Campbell Family Farm, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Three generations of Campbells—Jim along with his wife Sheila, their son Isaac, and Jim’s father—work together on their southwest Wisconsin farm to raise 80 to 90 Berkshire-cross pigs each year. Jim says he enjoys caring for the pigs from the day they are born to market day and watching them run around in the pasture, interacting with each other. “They run and play just like kids—they are very curious!”

Jim grew up a mile down the road from his grandpa’s farm, on land his dad had bought to farm on his own. As a child, Jim remembers coming up to his grandpa's farm one morning to find the pigs had gotten out. He asked his grandpa, “How are we going to get them in?” Grandpa said, “Tonight they will come back to their barn to sleep, and tomorrow morning I will get up before the pigs do and fix the fence.”

Raising and caring for pigs and delivering quality pork to market spans four generations of the Campbell family.

“I don’t crowd them or push them,” Jim says. “I just give them their free run. They have a two-acre pasture with some woods to play in. The only time they’re restricted to their straw-bedded pens is the first 48 hours or so after giving birth. For the first few days, I put a low barrier across the gate so the sow can come and go as she pleases, but the piglets can’t get out. When the piglets are old enough and strong enough to jump over that low barrier, then it’s time for them to get out and socialize with the other litters.”

Jim adds, “Some folks say the Berkshires don’t have good mothering ability, but my sows are excellent mothers. For instance, when a mother sow wants to get up and go out of the pen for a while, she’ll raise up on her hind legs but stay on her front knees and crawl to the door to make sure she doesn’t step on any piglets.”

The Campbells were certified organic in 2003. Jim says, “When folks ask me what’s the difference between farming organic and conventional, I explain that organic probably takes more of my time, but it takes less of my money. Organic, pasture-based management made farming fun again. I like what I do. It’s a good fit. It’s not that I really needed to be a better manager, but I got better anyway, because I’m doing exactly what I love to do.”