College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

From Bright Leaf to Berkshires

An Alternative Swine Production Course and Outreach Program
Six weekends starting February 9, 2024

Apply here

"From Bright Leaf to Berkshires" is a North Carolina A&T Cooperative Extension outreach program designed to train tobacco farmers, and their descendants, in swine production systems using Berkshire pigs. Funded by a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, this program will allow tobacco farmers who have been financially impacted by policy and social changes to improve the profitability of their farm operations by learning to produce Berkshire pigs using hoop structure barns, an alternative swine production system. “Swine school” will consist of 10 lessons covering everything from swine-production basics to more advanced topics, drawing on the expertise of N.C. A&T swine specialist Derrick Coble, Ph.D.; marketing experts; industry professionals and Cooperative Extension professionals. The lessons will be offered on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings at the N.C. A&T Farm Pavilion and the N.C. A&T Swine Facility. Class length will vary from several hours to a full day of instruction with hands-on demonstrations. The targeted class size will be 10 participants per year for a 2-year period (20 total for the program).

By attending the school, participants will learn:

  • Background about N.C. A&T and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and how it fulfills its tripartite mission of teaching, research, and outreach through Cooperative Extension.
  • An overview of alternative swine production systems.
  • An in-depth look at managing swine in hoop structures, stocking rates, bedding and watering systems.
  • Background on the Berkshire breed, characteristics, within-breed selection based on niche markets. An understanding of swine reproduction, mating systems and artificial insemination.
  • An understanding of swine digestion, nutrition and feeding systems. Waste management, methods to reduce nitrogen/urea in waste, bedding options and practices.
  • An in-depth look at swine behavior, management/handling and welfare.
  • An in-depth look at swine health, the diseases most applicable to N.C swine, and vaccination schedule.
  • An overview of the cuts of pork.
  • An understanding of market strategies and profit maximization

Dates Include:

  • Application Deadline is January 26, 2024
  • February 9-10
  • February 23-24
  • March 15-16
  • April 19-20
  • May 3-4
  • June 14 (Extension Workshop)

Pig standing in a stable