Doug Metzger works his 1500-acre farm, which grows corn, sorghum, wheat, alfalfa, oats, barley, Reese turkeys (he has worked with turkeys since 1951) and pigs with wife Betty, son Mark, daughter Marilyn, son in law Stan and their three kids. Farming has become more challenging for Doug in recent years as he struggles to remain independent in an era of commercialization. "The chicken industry and the turkey industry went the way of industry," Doug explains, " and I'm working hard so that the same doesn't happen to the pork industry". Doug has raised purebred, certified Berkshire pigs since 1954 and learned the art from his grandfather Fred, father Wilhelm and father-in-law Japhet. These elder statesmen also taught Doug how to raise the now endangered Tamworth pig (as of 1961). Doug has worked with Frank Reese since Frank first started to raise turkeys in larger numbers in 2002.
Fred Metzger was born in 1885 in Lamar, Missouri to a family who had recently moved to the United States from Germany. Fred moved to Hancock, Minnesota when he was 10 and then to Larchwood, Iowa around 1900. Fred lived to be 104 and according to one source, once had more living descendents than anyone alive in the United States with 368. Fred's son Wilhelm was born in 1911 and moved to Kansas in 1933 after he met and married the beautiful Julia Meyer. Julia's father Japhet Meyer owned the farm where the Metzgers live to this day.
Doug currently raises about 5,000 turkeys and has about 700 certified Berkshire pigs and 70 Tamworth pigs but hopes to double that number through Heritage Foods USA. For the past three years Doug has sold his Berkshires to the Japanese market. But Doug hopes that rising interest in Berkshire pigs will help him lay the foundation for a domestic market and allow him to expand production to include other local Kansas farmers. Making enough money to get by is the hardest aspect of farming for Doug and is the greatest obstacle to allowing his grandchildren to continue the work of four generation of Metzgers. But with growing support from consumers and restaurants, there is hope.