While pig farming is generally considered a messy business, the Trogdon family has managed to clean up that stereotype.
Jared and Erik Trogdon, cousins from Edgar County, began a small pig farming operation in 2005 and since then have seen Trogdon Show Pigs take off. The family-owned business sells show pigs and aids buyers in finding the right fit for them.
“Erik and I have been around pigs since we were 12 or 13 years old,” Jared said. “It has just grown to be a part of our lives now.”
The Trogdon duo is hosting the Little Illini Classic Hog Show at the Edgar County Fairgrounds July 12. The event features a variety of show pigs with entries from not only Edgar County, but also around the Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky areas. An estimated 150-200 pigs from across the Midwest are participating.
The family was not always involved with pigs, and it wasn’t until the partners were in junior high the transition from cattle to pigs was made.
“I grew up with cattle and I didn’t know a ton about pigs at that time,” Jared Trogdon said. “But from then to now, we have made a lot of progress in the business.”
He attended Lake Land College before transferring to Oklahoma State, earning his degree in animal science. Erik Trogdon graduated from Lake Land College in 2007 with a degree in ag production and management. The skills they learned while in school helped to further their development in show pigs.
“Through all the years of school and running the business we have learned so many of the ins and outs of this line of work,” Erik Trogdon said. “Jared and I have learned to grow from our mistakes and keep moving.”
“In terms of commercial pigs we are pretty small comparatively,” Jared Trogdon said. “We have about 50 sows under us, and we are one of the bigger show pig businesses in Edgar County.”
The biggest differences between show pigs and commercial pigs are the overall quality of the animal. Show pigs are often a higher quality animal and are a lot bigger. The commercial counterparts are often skinnier with the focus being on producing more animals while still retaining quality.
The high-level quality care Trogdon Show Pigs puts into each hog has been the biggest difference setting them apart from their competition across the past 14 years.
“Taking care of the pigs is an all-day, everyday job,” Erik said. “We have high standards on washing them, walking them and taking care of everything from their hair to their skin.”
A fundamental part of their operation comes through the help of neighbor Scott Funkhouser. Funkhouser helps take care of the farm and animals when the Trogdons travel to different shows.
The Little Illini Classic is another occasion for the Trogdon duo to showcase their pigs, while providing an immediate opportunity to pig farmers in the area as well.
“Erik and I travel a lot to different shows across the country but this one is different,” Jared Trogdon said. “It is here in Edgar County and there is something special about it being in this community.”
Erik Trogdon is especially excited about the opportunities that having the show in Edgar County provides to area youth.
“So many shows are several hours away and there aren’t really many chances for the kids here to travel and show their pigs,” Erik Trodgon said. “Having it here though will allow them the chance to come out and see the things that happen at these shows, and they can learn from it.”
The cousins have been in business together for well over a decade now and are excited about the future of the company. The only thing that has been around longer has been the family bond the two share.
“We have been doing this a long time and it is practically like we are brothers now,” Jared Trogdon said. “Like any family you have your differences, but we have worked through them and stayed focused on the pigs.”
“Keeping the business in our family is the best way to do it,” Erik Trogdon said. “There is no one else I would rather work next to.”