John and Kate Hagenbuch and their family celebrated the opening of their two new 2,400 head grow-to-finish swine barns near Utica, in LaSalle County, by hosting an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony last week.
The Hagenbuch family currently owns and operates a 75-sow farrow-to-finish hog farm in addition to raising corn and soybeans just north of Utica. John and Kate also keep busy with their three children – Bella – 5 years old, Mae – 3 years old and Nolan 2 years old.
"As a young farm family, pork production has allowed us to remain viable in agriculture and remain in this community," says Kate. ""My husband, John, is a third-generation family farmer. We've wanted to expand for some time, and recently decided the time is right. We decided to build the two 2,400 head grow-to-finish barns to provide us an opportunity to further diversify our farm and remain more competitive in the challenging global marketplace."
The Hagenbuchs new grow-to-finish barns will each house 2,400 head of pigs. Pigs will enter the buildings weighing 50 pounds, where they will be housed until they reach market weight of 275 pounds.
"This building project is simply an expansion of our commitment to the safe and humane production of hogs," adds Kate. "The hog barns have many technologically advanced features that increase the efficiencies of raising the pigs, but will also improve the welfare of the pigs. The buildings are tunnel ventilated, which improves air flow inside the building and thus improves the pigs' health."
The Open House and Ribbon Cutting was sponsored by the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), the Pork Checkoff, Illini Swine, JBS United, and 1st Farm Credit Services.
"IPPA helped to sponsor the open house to celebrate and highlight the role of Illinois pork producers as stewards of their community and the environment, as well as an important contributor to the local and state economy," says Tim Maiers, IPPA Director of Industry and Public Relations.
The pork industry is very important to our state's economy. According to a study conducted by Peter Goldsmith, associate professor of Agribusiness Management at the University of Illinois, the Illinois pork industry contributes $1 billion in direct impact and$1.8 billion and 10,533 jobs of total impact to the State's economy in addition to providing $170 million in total taxes. The pork industry is also important to Illinois agriculture as it consumes over 69 million bushels of corn and 22.5 million bushels of soybeans each year.
"The new hog farm will bring additional economic activity to our local economy," adds Kate. "We will also be adding additional tax revenue to the county, of which a large portion will go to the Mendota High School district."
The open house is also an opportunity to highlight the environmental stewardship implemented by today's modern hog farms. Swine manure is a natural fertilizer that saves billions of cubic feet of natural gas which would otherwise be used to manufacture commercial fertilizers.
"As pork producers, we are held to a zero discharge standard in our management of manure," adds John. "All of our manure is required to be completely contained in the deep pits under the barns. We will be injecting the manure to surrounding corn and soybean fields according to the crops needs based on our nutrient management plan."
More than 250 neighbors, rural residents, and local community residents attended the open house and enjoyed a tour of the new hog buildings and were also treated to a free pork chop sandwich served by the LaSalle County Farm Bureau.