Now, he raises hogs on contract for Murphy Brown. Current production includes some 3,000 sows. Earp raises young pigs from these sows until weaning when they are shipped to other facilities. The farm ships out about 1,269 young pigs per week at an average weight of 15.8 pounds each. “We get a bonus for weaning 24 pigs per sow per year,” says Earp.

He also finishes hogs on contract in five houses. “We finish about 4,750 hogs each year,” says Earp. He and his family are working with Murphy Brown to convert the swine enterprise to a P-1 gilt production farm.

This would involve receiving gilts to be grown to breeding size. After farrowing for the first time and once their pigs are weaned, the sows would be transferred to other contract farms.

Earp says his farm is eligible for gilt production because his property is located at least 30 miles away from other breeding hog operations. This isolation is needed for disease prevention.

Cattle are important at Funston Farms. Earp started with 15 heifers and today has 270 cows and five bulls. His Simmental-Angus cross cows are bred artificially with semen from top sires. Earp anticipates expanding the cowherd. He’s exploring new marketing efforts for bred heifers to go along with tele-auction sales of weaned and backgrounded calves conducted by producers from southeastern North Carolina.

Earp has been active in community and farm organizations. Some of these include Zion Methodist Church in Leland, Brunswick County Board of Health, Brunswick County Cattlemen’s Association, Cape Fear Farm Credit board and Brunswick County Pork Producers Association. He was also named River-Friendly Farmer of the Year.

He has been active in the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation and was named the 2000 Pork Producer of the Year. He helped to organize the North Carolina Swine Producers Association and has been a member of the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association.