Long beards, bushy beards, tight beards, shaped beards. The entries in the first-ever Farm Journal’s PORK Best Beards in the Pork Industry Contest took on a variety of shapes and styles. At the end of the day, the judges agreed it was a challenge, but their top beards were consistent.
“One of the requirements for me is that the beard has to be something that if the hogs could get ahold of it, they’d turn it into a play thing… like we used to do with bowling pins for the 4-H hogs,” says judge Chip Flory, host of AgriTalk radio show.
Meanwhile judge Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications at the National Pork Board, notes that these pig farmers are not only staying warm this winter but letting their style shine through their beards.
“The lineup of beards was impressive,” agrees Tyne Morgan, host of U.S. Farm Report. “The characteristics I thought made the perfect beard was shape, length and body of the beard. And the competition was strong for all of those this year.”
2019 Best Beard in Pork Industry: Doug Braddy
After careful consideration, the judges named Doug Braddy, Land and Nutrient Management team leader for Smithfield Foods, as this year’s winner.
“I think this beard wins because it looks like it’s having the most fun,” Flory says. “I don’t think hogs could help themselves with this beard… they’d be waiting in line to push it around for a while.”
Braddy grew up helping his grandfather manage a small farrow-to-finish farm and says this is where his love of pigs and the pork industry began. In June 1997, he took an AI tech position at The Hanor Company where he went on to become a breeding barn manager and an environmental tech. After that, he went to work for Goldsboro Hog Farms/Maxwell Foods as an environmental tech for 12 years before going to Smithfield in 2015. Today, he supervises a draghose land application crew, applying swine manure in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.
Braddy will receive a “beardtastic” gift package of Hill Billy Beards Maple Glazed Bacon beard oil and beard wax and a mug from the National Pork Board. The second through fifth place winners will also receive a National Pork Board mug.
Rounding out the top five beards in the pork industry are as follows:
2nd place: Trey Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick is a safety manager at Smithfield Hog Production. He lives in Mt. Olive, N.C. The judges said this beard is an inspiration to the next generation of hog producers. “Certainly this beard is full and well-kept, but the best part is how his smile shines through as he enjoys time with this young pig farmer,” Cunningham says.
3rd place: Kane Causemaker
Causemaker is a hog procurement manager for JBS. He is from Atkinson, Ill. Judge Flory says, “This beard looks like he ripped it right off a black bear’s back … and he looks like he could do it, too! Solid beard!”
4th place: Hector Midence
Midence serves as a production technical trainer at Smithfield Foods in Laurinburg, N.C. Judge Cunningham says, “With just a hint of ‘maturity’ in his beard, this pig farmer brings to life the warmth of a full beard complete with matching brows, eyes and glasses. Dark and mysterious or fun and full of life, depends on the day!”
5th place: Sam Scher
In September, Sam Scher was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After five rounds of chemotheraphy, his beard is still hanging on, reports his wife, Autumn. Scher owns Sam Scher Showpigs and co-owns Upperhand Genetics in Huntington, Ind. “What I like most about this beard is what it stands for,” Morgan says. “You can tell he’s a family man, who’s going through the fight of his life. Once he — and that beard— wins, it’s going to have one heck of a story to tell.”
The judges commented that some of the beards held high potential and they’d like to see them in a couple years. Generally speaking, the longer beards fared best with this year’s judges. However, when it comes to beards, the options are endless and we think that’s what makes beards so much fun. Well done, pork industry!
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