She Changed Her Mind About Pigs

Hannah, Caden, and Logan

Hannah Walkes helps provide system shareholders with a very economical source of animal health products and the knowledge of how to use these products efficiently and effectively. Hannah loves her job, but she wasn’t always excited about pursuing a career in the swine field.

“I grew up on a corn and livestock farm near Lakefield, MN,” says Hannah. In the mid-’80s, her family had a 50 sow farrow-to-finish operation that was extremely labor intensive. “We utilized A-frame huts to house our sows, like everyone during that era, and my worst memories were of the sow and piglets being outside,” Hannah recalls. “Because of that, I swore at a young age that I’d never work with pigs.”

That all changed as she furthered her education at South Dakota State University. She did research projects and internships on swine vaccines and got a taste of new and improved hog production practices with better facilities (sows indoors) and an emphasis on nurturing the animals.

“It was these production practices and my passion for keeping my farm roots that brought me back,” states Hannah. “I went from never wanting to be involved in the industry to being unable to imagine not working in swine production.”

After graduating from SDSU in 2005, Hannah went to work for an animal genetics company. About a year later, she received a call from the veterinarians at Pipestone Veterinary Clinic asking her to join the clinic as a swine specialist. “It was an easy decision. I loved the opportunity to be hands-on and back out on the farm,” says Hannah.

Promoting pork and doing the right thing
Hannah’s passion for the swine industry extends beyond her role at the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic. Her family—husband Dominic, son Caden (5), and daughter Logan (2)—live in Brandon, SD. Hannah is active in organizations promoting that state’s swine industry. “I’m vice-president of the South Dakota Master Pork Producers Association, made up of individuals in allied industries whose goal is to recognize outstanding pork producers and promote the swine industry in South Dakota,” says Hannah.  The organization raises funds for:

  • Yearly scholarships to SDSU students pursuing degrees in swine-related fields. In the Pork Masters’ 45-year history, over $100,000 has been raised and dispersed to support these scholarships.
  • Serving and supplying pork to the Sioux Falls Banquet, which provides meals for the less fortunate.
  • Distributing holiday pork certificates to families with troops deployed overseas.

“Each year we select two or three Master Pork Producers from the state of South Dakota and honor them at our annual banquet,” says Hannah. “This truly highlights the people who are doing the right thing in our industry.”

Editor’s Note: Hannah is also a member of the SD Pork Producers Council, serving on their public policy and production and profitability committees.