Pierce City FFA member Brenden Kleiboeker has been involved with swine production his entire life. Yet, it was FFA that helped the young ag producer get paid for his responsibilities on his family’s Mineral Valley Farms, a diversified crop and livestock farm in southwest Missouri. Each year, the farm raises approximately 1,000 all natural, antibiotic free market hogs. His responsibilities include checking pigs daily, balancing rations, grinding and mixing feed, and treating health problems. He’s also involved in repairs and preventive maintenance of all swine equipment and buildings on the farm.
Brenden’s involvement in the operation has paid off; he’s one of four finalists up for the swine production proficiency placement award at the National FFA Convention next month in Indianapolis, Indiana. Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers.
Nationally, students can compete for awards in nearly 50 areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members that are exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.
In life, Brenden says he views every challenge as a chance to learn, and the same has held true for his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).
“As a placement SAE, I feel that I have an even greater responsibility in solving these problems as I am responsible for another’s business and profits,” Brenden explains.
As a market hog finishing operation for Niman Ranch, Mineral Valley Farms is charged with following the company’s protocols for ensuring meat quality.
“Meat quality is important for every swine farmer, but perhaps more important for Mineral Valley Farms as meat quality is the basis of our pay,” he says.
Brenden determines which hogs had the best yield grade and marbling based off of a kill sheet provided at market time. He’s also discovered through on-farm scales how to more accurately feed their hogs for proper weight and days of age. The end result has increased the back fat on the hogs and ultimately led to higher premiums for Mineral Valley Farms.
“Working with others is a vital skill for any career,” Brenden says. “Through discussions with our field representative, I have utilized many lifelong skills when sharing my ideas and listening to theirs.”