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Piglets to pork chops

Vertical integration has not only allowed three generations of Hord Family Farms of Bucyrus, Ohio, to grow but also to extend that benefit to other family farms as well.

“We realized that building more facilities and managing every hog on a daily basis was going to be a challenge. Subsequently, we looked to our farming friends as a way to help raise the growing hogs,” explains Pat Hord. “We knew the right growers would allow us to focus on other areas of the business. At the same time, this would provide the opportunity for other families to benefit through their diversification.”

Hord Family Farms comprises three generations. Duane and Inez are the senior members. Pat and Janel Hord, Kim and Patrick Greene, along with April and Greg Chance make up the middle generation. Phil, Becca and Colleen Hord comprise the junior members of the business. Pat Hord is currently the chief executive officer and president.

The Hord Family has 28,000 sows under their care with farrowing facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. More than 2,000 piglets are born each day with a total of 700,000-plus hogs finished annually. 

This decision to expand let the family grow their farrowing operation and expand their milling facilities. “Through our expansion and relationship with the 150-plus families feeding our hogs, we’ve strived to make them feel supported and valued. Our success is directly tied to the dedication and hard work of these families,” Pat adds. “We therefore provide full consultation and training assistance. This includes ideas for their initial facility layout, building a barn, and maintenance over time.”

The Hords also have a team of service directors that assists the growers with the care of the animals. “This ongoing and open communication has resulted in the best group of grower families we could ever ask for,” Hord points out.

Vertical Integration

During the early years of the Hord operation, the family marketed their finished hogs through Routh Packing of Sandusky, Ohio. “This relationship worked well as Routh furnished boars to help improve on meat-type hogs. 

However, if we were going to grow still further, we needed to consider changes that would benefit our long term goals,” Hord explains.

After exploring suppliers and outlets for their expanding business, additional aspects of vertical integration were implemented. For example, rather than use boars for natural service they obtain semen from Pig Improvement Company 

The operation also established a relationship with the Clemens Food Group of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, for selling hogs. “Clemens was well established throughout the Eastern Seaboard marketing pork products under the Hatfield label,” Hord explains. While transportation to Pennsylvania seemed far, Clemens’ business was growing so it needed access to a consistent supply of quality hogs. 

The Same Values  

The Clemens Family has the same Christian values as our family, which made a natural fit for us. Their progressive management represented a long-term future for our family.

“The Clemens Food Group was searching for ways to grow its business in new markets. So they met with Midwest producers like us to explore how hogs could be sourced while moving the product to an expanded market,” Hord says.

With further discussion, Hord explained how the Clemens Integrated Producer group was formed. “With Clemens Food Group having vast experience on the processing, branding, and distribution side, and the producers doing what they did best in raising hogs. 

The current Clemens facility processes 12,000 hogs per day and provides over 1,000 local jobs. Clemens handles all of the sales and marketing once the pork is processed. “Understanding meat processing and gaining a better understanding of marketing has been helpful as a producer. Too often farmers have been reactive to market situations,” Pat observes. “Clemens has a great understanding of consumers.”

Also Feeding Out Cattle

An additional aspect of Hord Family Farms is Hord Livestock, which is a division headed up by Duane Hord. “In 2007, Hord Livestock bought a farm with a small feedlot where we finish beef cattle. The next year, we built a new cattle finishing facility,” Duane explains. “Additional expansions were made to the second facility in 2009 and 2010. Through these feedlots, we finish about 1,800 head of cattle each year. We have corn by-products from our swine milling operation that supply most of the corn for our feed lots. For us, it’s another phase of vertical integration.” 

In 2015 the Hord family built an extensive office and visitor center. Phil Hord shared these details: “This building provides a venue for weekly management meetings and training facilities for our 200 employees. A welcome center tells the story of our family and farm operation for visiting guests. In addition, we’re able to host special community and private events.”

Goals Are Fully Integrated

The Hord family is often asked, what do you do and what is your ultimate goal? Pat Hord responds, “We are feeding families through sustainable food production. As to our goals, we strive to be agricultural stewards with Christian values thoroughly entrenched in our business.” Now, as a partner in the processing business, the Hord Family Farms goals are fully integrated from piglets to pork chops.

The family owns and rents 8,000-plus acres. Crops grown include 3,750 acres of corn, 3,750 acres of soybeans, 400 acres of wheat, and 500 acres of barley. Homegrown grain provides approximately 10% of the feed for the sow units and grower facilities. 

The balance of the feed requirements is purchased from local farmers. The Hord milling operation produces approximately 5,200 tons per week. This supports 90% of the feed requirements. With out-of-state and remote operations, the balance of the feed is acquired through other sources.

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