Real People. Real Food.
The Saskatchewan pork industry creates employment for more than 1500 people in production, processing, research, animal health, transportation and other vital service industries essential to sustainable animal production. We’re proud of the high-quality pork we raise and the hard-working people who contribute to our province’s vibrant and growing pork industry!
Meet Bryan and Tifanie Possberg, owners and operators of B&T Polar Pork Farms near Loreburn, SK. This close knit family of six, four children Ethan (12), Rebecca (11), Matthew (8) and Katrina (6) will welcome a new brother or sister in August 2018.
How did you become a pork producer?
“I am a second generation pork farmer and grew up tagging along with my dad Florian (mom Betty) who built our family’s first pork barn 40 years ago in Humboldt. That farm grew to be Big Sky Farms, the largest pork producer in the province!”
“I often helped out in the barns after school, on weekends and during summer holidays. I’d feed the larger pigs and nursery piglets, move and tag animals, and assist with vaccinating piglets.”
“At one point I thought we’d move away from the farm, but my wife Tifanie and I were offered the opportunity to operate our own pork farm and it turned out to be a great decision!”
Tifanie is as hands-on in the barn as me. She originally worked at Big Sky Farms which is how we met in 2002 after being introduced through my brother Daryl who managed the farm then.”
What are the advantages to farm life?
“Working on the farm allows us to genuinely enjoy our family and the real advantage is being home every night!”
“Living and working on the farm has meant our kids are exposed to the business. Our eldest son Ethan now works a regular shift in the barn helping mom and dad on the weekends and during school holidays! The younger kids take turns working the afternoon shift with their mom every couple of weeks and they all say they want to be pig farmers!”
“Farming is truly a family operation for us! We live in the same house with my sister Angela and brother-in-law Kevin and their 4 kids plus the Santos family who immigrated to Saskatchewan from the Philippines. Our living arrangements with 6 adults and 10 children (with one on the way) are not typical by any means. However, with a few renovations to the house, we’ve found an arrangement that works great for everyone!”
More than 15 years later, Daryl, Angela, Tifanie and I are all key members in the ownership and management of Polar Pork Farms, a multi-farm pork production company.”
What makes a good pork producer?
You need a good understanding of animal behaviour and handling and also a willingness to learn as much as you can! If the pigs aren’t cared for properly- you have no business. Healthy animals are productive. Tifanie and I are very hands-on with the animals and maintain a low-stress environment and approach to raising and handling them. We don’t leave anything to chance and monitor them 24/7. Animals are pretty easy to read if you know the signs to look for!” We’re proud of our role in producing high-quality pork!”
What are some of the challenges you face as a pork farmer?
“With the changes to the Pig Code of Practice a few years ago, pork farmers have been moving towards adopting new animal housing systems and methods. Last year we converted the breeding area of our barn from gestation stalls to group sow housing. The health, productivity and longevity of the sows have improved since then.” We now have 2,720 sows that farrow 80,000 piglets a year. Our job is to keep those pigs healthy!”
What do you think the future holds for you?
“What began as B&T Polar Pork in 2009 has expanded to 6 commercial sow herds under the Polar Pork umbrella. We are also owners in Polar Pork’s Gilt Multiplier operation that supplies the entire Polar production system. Daryl and Angela joined the company in 2016 when they moved back to Saskatchewan from Alberta.
“Nearly 10 years ago, pork prices saw roller coast highs and lows that took its toll on many farms. The past 4-5 years we have made a strategic move to more predictable contract pricing and have found a pricing framework that has served us well. We’ll continue to grow our business with a model for refurbishing empty sow units and retrofitting where necessary to produce the highest quality weaned piglets.
The Polar Pork management team makes annual trips to visit pork producers in Iowa. It is important for us to have a good working relationship with our pig buyers. We put a lot of effort into working together since “nobody wins if we don’t all win.”