Kelly and Woody Tyndall raise Certified AWA hogs in the sand hills of North Carolina. Their farm is about 25 acres, with 18 acres of coastal Bermuda grass pasture and woods where the hogs roam freely. Kelly says that the woods are especially helpful to shade the hogs in their hot summers.
Both Kelly and Woody Tyndall have a long history in agriculture. Kelly is the fifth generation to work their family’s land, where she helped her parents raise hogs when she was growing up. Woody has also farmed all of his life, working on his parents’ where they also raised pastured hogs and then managing a commercial hog operation for 10 years, before he and Kelly met and decided to go into hog production themselves. Kelly says it was a natural extension of a family tradition: “We were both familiar with the practices and we had the land, so we decided to give it a try.” Kelly and Woody work off-farm as well to supplement their income from the farm. As Kelly explains, “in this economy it was important to us to diversify.”
Kelly says they first began raising hogs out of a desire to feed their own family a more natural pork product. But when their sow got pregnant with her first litter, “We realized we had to find something to do with all those pigs!” The couple started their first year with one breeding sow and one boar, and plan to expand to supply both direct markets and larger supply chains. They chose Duroc hogs, a breed which is known for thriving on pasture. Kelly says that pasture-based management is the natural way a hog does best: “Hogs don’t have snouts for concrete! I believe raising hogs in a natural environment, where they can root around and be hogs, is extremely important – and it’s the only way I want to do it. We take a lot of pride in being able to monitor our hogs, being able to make sure that they are healthy and happy.”
Gaining AWA certification was important for the Tyndalls: “We sought AWA certification because want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to grow quality pork,” Kelly explains. “We wanted to be able to tell our customers, ‘We’ve been certified. You’re not just getting our word; someone else is verifying that what we say is true.’ We think it’s a real advantage.”
Kelly and Woody are already seeing an increased interest in pastured pork in their area, which bodes well for their new venture. The Tyndalls are also members of the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, a cooperative of AWA hog producers who sell to restaurants, retailers, and food processors throughout the region.
She says their customers appreciate their pork because it is pasture raised, and she and Woody are happy to provide it: “We love farming – we put a lot of energy into doing this, and we enjoy it.”