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Goombungee pig producers know their industry

BORN FOR THE LAND: Goombungee pig farming brothers Rodney and Graham Hartwig at the Elders pig sale on Monday in Toowoomba.
BORN FOR THE LAND: Goombungee pig farming brothers Rodney and Graham Hartwig at the Elders pig sale on Monday in Toowoomba. Tara Miko

GOOMBUNGEE pig farmers Rodney and Graham Hartwig know their stuff when it comes to the pork industry.

After all, the brothers have been working on the land since they were just kids.

The second generation farmers run Fairvilla, which has been in the Hartwig family since their parents purchased the 115ha back in 1965.

Graham reckons the eight sows and single breeding boar that call the Goombungee property home is a far cry to what he had when he was in his "prime".

I've been breeding pigs since I was about seven. When I was in my prime - when I was 14 or 15 - I had about 40 sows.

"I've been breeding pigs since I was about seven," Graham told the Rural Weekly at the Elders pig sale on Monday.

"When I was in my prime - when I was about 14 or 15 - I had 40 sows."

The brothers described the past 12 months in the pork industry as "alright" which, as befitting two country blokes more comfortable talking shop than answering a journalist's questions, was the same response when asked how they viewed the recent pork prices.

"The pork market has been alright," Rodney said.

"It has held up since Easter when it generally drops."

Both admitted grain prices had been high due to the drought.

Oats are grown on Fairvilla for the cows but feed for the pigs has to be imported.

"The price high we've seen would be about $3.30 a kilo, and we're getting about $3 a kilo now," Graham said.

"It's alright. We've had to get grain in from Western Australia because the east coastline just doesn't have any feed."

He said the high prices were driven by the low supply but larger demand, and also the freight cost of trucking feed across the breadth of Australia.

"The profit margin in the market is not really big.

"The lamb market is very expensive at the moment so we're hoping people will want to buy pork instead of lamb for a while."

But despite the difficulties, the brothers have never entertained the thought of doing anything but farming.

"I'm just a small hobby farmer now," Graham said.

When asked if he planned to get off the land, Graham simply shook his head and laughed.

"Not at my age," he said with a laugh.

"We'll plug along with a few head - enough to keep us busy. We're still feeding twice a day - I'm too kind like that."

ELDERS selling agents reported a lighter yarding of all pigs on Monday.

See pages 24-25 for the full pig report, as well as the region's saleyard prices.