Yorkshire operation is family business

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Cobb Superior Yorkshires is a business that Steve Cobb started when he was younger than either of his sons, Jarrett and Aaron, are today.

Cobbs Farms is a family business with Jarrett and Aaron taking on the responsibility of the Yorkshires, while their dad and Darin Owens take care of the 2,000 acres of cotton and corn.

Jarrett is a 1998 graduate of Buffalo Island Central High School and a senior at Arkansas State University. He plans to attend law school in Fayetteville.

Aaron is a 2001 BIC graduate and is a sophomore at Arkansas State University where he is majoring in agriculture education. He hopes to teach agriculture and continue working with the Yorkshires.

From the breeding, to the farrowing, to marketing, the Cobbs take their work very seriously and have sold hogs in Japan and South America along with commercial boars to Canada.

Jarrett and Aaron grew up in the business, and at the age of nine both began showing Yorkshires. Jarrett won first place at the Arkansas State Fair with one of his first shows.

The Cobbs held a record for six months in 2000 for selling a Yorkshire boar for the most money. Their champion hog sold for $125,000. It was the first boar in 10 years that the Cobbs had showed at a national show.

A record was set at the summer conference of 2000 at $157,000 that was broken at the Indiana State Fair, and the Cobb's record was set at the Fall Classic. The record was broken at the summer conference the next year with a new $220,000 record.

Aaron loves fitting and showing hogs. Last week in Louisville, Ky., he won his class is showmanship and was third overall showman.

He recently was elected to the National Junior Swine Association Southwest Regional Board, an eight member board, that consists of members from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. He is looking forward to serving. There are six meetings a year and he will attend shows in Oklahoma, Texas, and, hopefully, California.

"We may not remember all of the ribbons or which shows they came from and we may not even remember the individual hogs, but we will always remember the people we meet at the shows. Like I said in my campaign speech, when breeding and working to improve hogs, we have to do what suits us every day."

Presently the Cobbs have 85 sows but plan to cut that number in half and in the near future and go strictly dealing in show pigs for sale. They want to produce gilts for people to use to make show pigs. They also are partners in a boar stud business in Georgia.

"The commercial industry for small businesses is not what it once was," Aaron said. "It has gone more to corporate sales."

There is a difference in raising hogs for the commercial industry and developing show hogs. There will be fewer hogs in the show industry. On the grower floor there is usually 15-20 head in a pin. For the show hogs there will be three or four in a pin. When they begin fitting a show hog, it will be placed in a private stall with special bedding and sprinkler system.

"We feed our show hogs an extremely high protein that gives their skin and hair a sleek look and muscle to be harder with more shape. You don't want them fat. Show pigs are all about looks," Aaron said.

Both young men agree that they can pick out potential show hogs soon after they are born.

Jarrett says the show pig industry is like a hobby or recreation.

"Showing is not something you do for the money, it is just a great recreation," Aaron said.

Aaron said they do not get attached to the hogs like a pet, but there are special ones.

"There are some that you just believe in. Hogs are very predictable," he said.

Jarrett agreed that each has its own personality.

The brothers work together and it is a year round undertaking. Jarrett makes the feed and keeps the pens clean and bedded. Aaron manages the farrowing house and breeding. They do share the work when one or the other has to have time off.

"You can't just take time off without someone to take care of the hogs," Aaron said. "The animals have to be your number one priority."

They are very careful with their hogs. They are very cautious and do everything they can to protect them from potential illness or disease that could hurt their health. In the last 15 years they have not purchased any hogs. All of their swine is born and raised on the Cobb Farm.

Raising and selling show pigs is rare for this area. The Cobb Yorkshires are advertised on the Internet and in the Seed Stock Edge magazine and have become well known throughout the industry.

Aaron was recently featured on the cover the Seed Stock Edge Magazine.

Aaron hopes to teach agriculture as a career, but said he plans to have show animals as a hobby because he truly enjoys working with the swine.

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