Malcolm DeKryger ’81 loves pigs.
As a young pre-med student at Calvin in the late 1970s, he started working summers at his uncle’s pig farm in west Michigan. “While I was there, I fell in love with the pigs,” he said. “I had to figure out what I was going to do with that.”
Upon graduating from Calvin, he decided to pursue an advanced degree in agriculture—specifically swine nutrition—at Purdue University, where he was recently awarded the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award.
After brief tenures on staff at Purdue, with a national livestock feeding company and an international pharmaceutical company, DeKryger was able to return to working with the animals he loves.
That was 22 years ago. Since then, DeKryger has helped grow Belstra Milling to a five-farm operation, producing more than 300,000 pigs annually.
Along the way, he’s tried to share with people “the amazing animal that is the pig,” he said.
He has invited large groups of people to visit farms at Belstra Milling in DeMotte, Ind., serving as a public relations person for pork farmers.
“I really want to give people an appreciation for the care that we show the animals and the technology that we use to take care of this gift that God has given us,” said DeKryger. “It is our attempt to utilize this gift with good stewardship to provide for the masses.”
A challenge DeKryger foresees is to increase production to provide for the world’s growing population. “We are constantly asking ourselves, ‘What’s it going to take to feed 10 billion people in the next 20-30 years?’
“God quit making ground and farmland a long time ago,” he said. “As believers we understand that we are called to figure out and apply technology in ways that will do things bigger and better. I believe we are called to produce food as efficiently as possible so that less blessed can afford to eat a healthy, balanced diet while treating animals as the precious gifts that they are.”
That’s why DeKryger, vice president of Belstra Milling, is investing in Fair Oaks Pig Adventure, an agri-tourism destination that will display modern pork production to the public.
The nearly $10 million facility in northwestern Indiana, scheduled to open this spring, will be home to Legacy Farm, a fully functioning and commercially viable 2,400-sow farrowing/gestation operation owned and operated by Belstra Milling.
From observation decks above the hog operations, visitors will see what is involved in pig production at the one-of-a-kind farm. “People will be able to look down on productions as it happens all day long,” DeKryger said. “They will see facets of production that they have probably never seen before.
“Legacy Farm is about reconnecting people to where food is grown and produced. We shouldn’t have lost track of where food comes from, but people don’t think about it anymore. There is a huge disconnect.”
It’s also about getting people to appreciate pigs. “It’s about the miracle that God created in the pig,” said DeKryger. “From a source for food to medical and health purposes, it’s a really cool thing.”