University News

WIU School of Ag Opens Leatherneck Country Meats

February 25, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – Students in the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture have found a unique way to raise money for the department while learning valuable career skills, by starting Leatherneck Country Meats – The Purple and Gold Standard of Western Illinois University, a pork sales operation run from the University Farm.

Hogs are among the animals raised at the University farm as part of the University's academic offerings, including classes on swine science and as part of WIU's nationally-successful Livestock Judging Team.

According to Jay Pittman, an assistant research technician at the University Farm, seven students are employed by the center to handle all aspects of animal care, from feeding to farrowing. While some of the pigs who are raised are sold to individual buyers to raise for judging in 4-H and FFA events, there are several that are typically sold off to processing plants.

"The goal is raising show pigs," said WIU senior agriculture business major Dalton Humphrey, of Eaton Rapids, MI. "We also have a few online sales a year."

The majority of the Leatherneck Country Meats operation is run by students. Faculty from the WIU School of Agriculture advise the students.

"We are excited to make WIU pork available to the public," said WIU Instructor Jana Knupp. "Our students work hard to raise high quality livestock in a responsible way. Purchasing WIU pork provides the customer with a premium product, while also supporting the animal science program at WIU."

Once the hogs are ready for processing, they are taken to the new Farmhouse Meat Company in Carthage. The owners of the new meat locker include WIU alumni Kristin Huls and John Carroll.

Leatherneck Country Meats is available in three bundles, including:

• The Rocky Bundle - $120: Two roasts or hams, six-eight pork chops, three pounds of bacon and eight pounds of sausage.

• The Purple and Gold Bundle - $310: Three pounds of rack spare ribs, four two-pound Boston butt roasts, two shoulder roasts, eight pounds of bacon, 10-12 bone-in chops, five pounds of sausage, two packages of brats and a whole ham, halved.

• The Whole Hog - $400: The meat is processed to the buyers' specifications. The processing cost is not included in the package. (Approximately 150 pounds).

The finished bundles must be picked up at the Carthage locker by the buyers.

WIU junior Paige Skinner, an agriculture science major from Roseville, IL, said she has learned new skills through the Leatherneck Country Meats project.

"There is no change in the production side because of the new business," she said. "This is really just finding a new way to market the product.

Humphrey said he believes the new program is an opportunity to get a glimpse of what students in the WIU School of Agriculture are working on.

"It makes me more conscious of understanding different ways of marketing," he said. "This is also a way to add value to our product."

The business will offer meat for sale once each year, typically in the winter. The hope is that next year the meat can be shipped to buyers.

To order from the new Leatherneck Country Meats, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing