BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Nick Barney was 12 when his parents, Tim and Angie, established 3N Livestock – named for Nick and his brothers, Nathan and Nolan.
Nick, a 2008 Anthony Wayne High School graduate, was involved in ag science, serving as a state FFA officer after graduation and working at a family swine operation in Wauseon before returning home to take the reins of the day-to-day operation of 3N Livestock.
The Monclova Township family quickly became known for their expertise in raising quality pigs for FFA and 4-H members to take to county fairs, even housing them on their farm for youths who couldn’t keep a pig at home.
Many 3N pigs have won top prizes, not just in Ohio but all across the United States. It all begins with the 70 sows, momma pigs, that live year-round at 3N. During peak birthing season, as many as 200 pigs live on the farm, awaiting sale to 4-H and FFA members for their projects. This spring though, as many of the 4-H and FFA members were hesitant to embark on a livestock project because of the uncertainty of county fairs, 3N made a pivot that Nick believes will benefit not just the farm but also the community.
The family introduced Farm to Freezer packages of pork – the other white meat. With rising meat prices and scarcity of meat at the grocery store, the packages went flying off the farm’s freezer shelves – proving that pigs really can fly.
Available in a variety of prices, the packages can be customized to meet all tastes. Griller packages include Hawaiian sausage patties and bratwurst. The Family Favorites box has traditional smoked ham, pork chops and thick, smoked bacon.
“3N is proud to offer a product that is not only grown locally from birth but also has a main diet of corn, which is grown on the farm as well,” said Nick, explaining that the meat is processed by Brookview Farms in Archbold and inspected and approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “It’s all sold with just word-of-mouth advertising to people who are looking for quality pork direct from the farm.”
While the costs of pork have risen in the grocery store, Nick shared that those profits are not shared with the farmer but rather go to the rising costs of the middleman, the packer. The 3N Farm to Freezer program eliminates the packer in the process, he said.
With both sets of grandparents – the Barneys and the Ryans – farming in the area, Nick was involved in agriculture early on.
“We always had show pigs. Dad raised pigs with my grandpa in the early ’80s, but the pork industry has changed a lot from small operations to mass production of pork, where the goal was getting a heavier pig to market the fastest,” Nick explained. “We put our focus on the show pig industry, working to make a better pig through a breeding program. Our goal is to produce lean muscle and quality pork that delivers a good-looking pork chop and ham for your dinner table as well as looking pretty in the show ring.”
The pigs are housed in large common areas where they are fed twice a day and have plenty of room to move around. In the winter, they eat a lot more in order to keep from getting cold.
Standing inside the former Zwyer Poultry Farm barn on Monclova Road, Nick gets grunts of recognition from some of the sows. Last year, Nick, Nathan and Nolan, along with a host of family friends, refurbished the entire barn with plans to pour cement and add water lines in order to add more pigs and cattle – for freezer beef in the near future.
Nearby is another set of barns with freezers to hold the meat for the pork packages, more pigs and another addition to the 3N lineup – the local 3N feed warehouse. With the closure of Whitehouse Grain earlier this year, 3N was able to begin providing ADM feeds, which is popular among not only horse owners but also those who have chickens, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and even llamas. The business also offers shavings for bedding, fly spray and other products for feeding and caring for livestock, as well as Diamond brand dog food.
Like many farmers, Nick has a few other jobs: farming 200 acres of row crops and assisting Monclova Township entrepreneur John Curtis with his growing Innovaliner business. Nick’s wife, Chelsea, is a veterinarian who not only works throughout the area but also on the farm. Nolan and Nathan stop by after their day jobs to help out with the pigs.
While the sows don’t always look pretty, they do make great pork chops and pretty good show pigs, Angie said.
And yes, they are smelly and messy – but Nick doesn’t mind. “I always wanted to be a farmer. There wasn’t another option for me. To me, it’s not work.”
For information, visit www.3nlivestock.com.