Zoltenko Farms and Wildcat Blockchain
By RON WILSON
Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
“We deliver the male.” No, I’m not referring to the US Postal Service.
In this case, it refers to a business that supplies select male genetics to pork production throughout the Midwest. This same innovative farm family also does blockchain and bitcoin mining from their location in rural Kansas.
Lannin Zoltenko is president and managing partner of Zoltenko Farms and Wildcat Blockchain. The family farm is located in Jewell County, just one mile from the Nebraska state line. Five generations of the family have lived here. The farm became a century farm in 2017.
Zoltenko’s folks are James and Sherryl Zoltenko. Lannin and his wife Melanie have two sons: Chandler, who farms, and Taran, who is at Kansas State University, which is also his father’s alma mater.
For decades, the Zoltenkos had a traditional diversified livestock farm that raised cattle, crops and pigs. The pig operation went from pig to end, that is, the males (boars) were bred to the females (sows), who gave birth to piglets which were then raised to market weight.
In 1997, Zoltenko considered whether to return to the farm. His parents were trying to decide whether to retire or expand.
That year in December, they received an inquiry from a company called the Pig Improvement Company, or PIC, which was looking for a site for a 50-head boar stud in north central Kansas. This would be like a racehorse stud farm, only with pigs. This company sought a location where selected male pigs could be bred to collect semen for artificial insemination of sows by other pig producers.
Zoltenkos decided to try. “It was a real walk of faith,” said Lannin Zoltenko. He credits Abilene Veterinary Hospital veterinarians Steve Henry and Lisa Tokach for providing key help in starting the operation.
“In February 1998, the sows were gone, and in May the boars were here,” Zoltenko said. They developed a process to collect sperm and distribute it to other producers, adopting the slogan “We deliver the male.”
Today, Zoltenko Farms has 1,382 wild hogs, most of them in Kansas. Since herd health and biosecurity are so important, their rural location is an advantage. The farm is located 17 miles north of the rural community of Courtland, with a population of 294. Now it’s rural.
For producers looking for maternal characteristics with good litter size and high milk yield, the Large White and Landrace breeds are preferred. For those producers raising hogs for harvest, Duroc and Berkshire hogs are the breeds of choice.
The semen collected from Zoltenko’s high-quality pigs can service around 300,000 sows annually. The farm operates 11 delivery routes to hog producers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota and Illinois. “Our drivers will drive a million miles a year,” Zoltenko said.
In 2020, the Zoltenkos began pursuing an additional business as they looked at the direction of the national economy. “I was looking for good money,” Zoltenko said. They decided to focus on bitcoin and bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency or digital money. According to Investopedia, bitcoin is created, distributed, traded and stored using a decentralized ledger system called a blockchain. In February 2021, Zoltenkos started a business known as Wildcat Blockchain.
Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new bitcoins by solving extremely complicated mathematical problems that confirm transactions in the currency. This requires high-level computer capabilities. “We look for substations that have unused electrical capacity and set up bitcoin data centers there,” Zoltenko said.
As these computers solve mathematical problems, bitcoin is generated for the discoverers. “We have customers from California to Florida,” he said.
“Our greatest success is positively impacting the lives of our team members, our partners and our community.”
For more information about the stud, see www.zfistud.com.
We supply the male – in this case, male genetics for leading pork producers throughout the Midwest. We commend Lannin Zoltenko and all those involved in Zoltenko Farms and Wildcat Blockchain for their innovation and entrepreneurship.
They definitely deliver.