Looking for ways to grow your farm? Consider diversifying with pigs, turkeys, chickens, beef or dairy cattle, or other animals. Livestock and poultry add value to your farm, your soybeans and your community. Diversification creates income and labor to bring family members back to the farm. Flexible business model options help spread your risk, manage your workload and allow for future changes. And, access to animal nutrients offsets fertilizer costs, builds healthier soil and supports yields.
Diversifying Farms for the Next Generation
For farmers across Illinois, mitigating risk and ensuring their farm stays in the family starts with diversifying their operations. Watch two Illinois farm families as they share their stories of diversification on their farms.
Adding Pigs Brings the Next Generation Back to the Farm
Diversifying your farm with pigs gives the opportunity for the next generation to come home to farm, reduces business risk, and cuts crop fertilizer costs. Though livestock markets have ups and downs, partnering with an integrator reduces risk. "If the person is with a good company, the risk is minimal," say brothers Clarke and Kurt Kelso. See the Kelsos and other current farmers explain their decision to raise pigs.
Beef Cattle Allow Farm to Grow
The capital investment of crop farming deters many young people, but the added income and labor that livestock brings can help the next generation carry on the family tradition. With his finance background, Wes Strode found that beef cattle would allow him to join his family's farm. "I was a banker for seven or eight years...and decided I wanted to come home to farm. Putting a pencil to it and comparing the high price of land and cash rent to feeding livestock...we really thought adding cattle to our existing grain operation was the way to go," says Strode. Watch the Strodes describe the right fit for their family.
As our No. 1 customer, animal agriculture plays an important role within the soybean value chain. Watch the Sullivan family of Petersburg Poultry Processing bring this role to life as they talk about the benefits of soy-fed livestock diversification and how it’s allowed them to cultivate economic growth in their community, incorporate family back into the operation, and convert grain into gain.
Building to Farm
"I grew up around pigs, and considered building my own barn," says Taylor Wildermuth from Osco, Ill. He talked to farmers, lenders and experts about diversification and decided to work with an integrator. "I appreciated knowing that resources were available to help me." He works full-time for an area farm, but his barn supplements income. "I like seeing the pigs every day, and taking care of issues as they arise. I don't know what the future holds, but I am farming and raising pigs, like I've always wanted to do."
"As Madison, our oldest daughter, neared high school graduation, we wanted her and all the kids to be able to farm if they wanted," says Darren Brown, from Magnolia, Ill. "Acquiring more ground was not really possible, but we all love livestock." He runs a 50-head cow/calf heard, but two pig finishing barns allow Madison to farm full-time. "Our barns have been good for our family, and we are very happy we diversified. We enjoy the pigs and cattle, and they keep us working together every day, no matter what."
"I enjoyed helping people find opportunities to grow as an ag recruiter, but I also wanted to build my family legacy and raise my kids on the farm," says Luke Crawford, who now farms with his father near Arenzville, Ill. "We explored many options to expand the family farm, from berries and grapes to chickens." Diversification with pigs and cattle was more affordable than he realized, and the risks were known and understood. "The risk is real, but we found a way with livestock. I can make my mark on our farm and it's legacy for our family and community."
Livestock Nutrients Improve Soil Quality and Increase Profit Margins
"Manure gives so many advantages to your soil. It provides micronutrients, increases organic matter and improves soil's water-holding capacity," says Ted Funk, a consultant and former University of Illinois Extension Specialist. "With the N-P-K in livestock manure, you have the potential to replace all your commercial fertilizer costs." Do the math. How much could using livestock manure save you?