What is in this article?:
- North Carolina‚Äôs Thomas Porter named Expo Farmer of the Year
- Minimizes disease risk
- State level
• Porter’s farm includes 850 acres with 270 acres of rented land and 580 acres of owned land.
• Last year, his swine operation had 2,200 sows that produced an average of 23.5 pigs per sow.
• He’s growing Matua bromegrass.
• The poultry operation consists of four pullet houses and four layer houses.
• He built his beef herd from five cows. It now consists of 300 Hereford-Angus cows bred to Angus bulls.
NORTH CAROLINA FARMER of the Year Thomas Porter, Jr., third from left, was named the 2011 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Farmer of the Year during the 34th Expo, held Oct. 18-20 in Moultrie, Ga. Also shown are Expo Director Chip Blalock, Porter’s wife Vicky, and J. Thomas Ryan of Swisher International. Despite a difficult economic climate, the Expo drew 1,211 exhibitors this year.
Minimizes disease risk
He requires showers for anyone entering or leaving the swine facilities. Porter says, “We minimize disease risks with our bio-security measures and because of our location. There are no swine farms farther west than ours in the state.”
His isolated location is one reason his was chosen as a Murphy-Brown multiplier farm. Dead poultry, hogs and cattle are all composted on the farm. “No rendering trucks enter our farm, and that also helps with overall bio-security,” explains Porter.
The poultry operation consists of four pullet houses and four layer houses. Poultry is raised under contract with Tyson Foods. He built his first pullet houses in 1990, and began raising layers to produce broiler breeder eggs in 2009.
Layers remain on the farm 10 months and produce about 38,000 hatching eggs per day during peak production. Pullets are brought to his farm just after hatching, and he keeps them 20 weeks before they are moved to layer houses. He’s paid on the basis of square feet in his poultry houses, and receives bonuses based on egg hatchability and feed conversion for the layers.
“Poultry has been a good fit with our cattle,” says Porter.
“The poultry litter is dry, and we stack it before we apply it as fertilizer. Layer house cleanout takes place during August and September, and that is when we apply the litter to our pastures and hay fields. This has greatly reduced our need for commercial fertilizer.”
He built his beef herd from five cows. It now consists of 300 Hereford-Angus cows bred to Angus bulls. “We vaccinate, background and precondition our calves before we sell them at 700 to 800 pounds in truckload lots in a tele-auction,” he explains.
“By building a reputation for top quality calves, buyers will want our cattle and, hopefully, pay a premium.”
His farm has received awards, as a county Farm Family of the Year and for soil and water conservation. He has received environmental stewardship awards from his poultry and pork contracting companies.
“I always wanted to farm,” says Porter. He grew up on a dairy, and raised a garden as a child. In high school, he sold greenhouse tomato plants. He worked as a welder, pipe fitter and building contractor to raise capital to invest in his farm.
“I established my farm during the 1980s, and put in our hogs during 1992,” he recalls. “That’s when I stopped building houses to farm full time.”
He hopes to establish permanent conservation easements to keep his land in agricultural production, and then use proceeds from the easements to buy additional farmland.
In Cabarrus County, he serves as Farm Bureau president, on the Planning and Zoning Board, on the Agricultural District board and chairs the Extension Advisory Committee. He’s also an associate of the Soil and Water Conservation District. He’s a former member of a watershed improvement group and served as Cattlemen’s Association president.