Why Diversify

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.

 

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."
 

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Building for the Family

"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."
 

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Building for a Legacy

"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."
 

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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?
 

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Decision-Making Tools and Resources

Diversifying with animal agriculture is a big decision. These resources can help you decide if adding livestock is best for you, your farm and your family.

University of Illinois: Farmdoc FAST Tools

Financial, farm management and risk management tools provide information and calculators to determine if livestock would be a good investment for your farm.

Iowa State University: Ag Decision Maker

Resources designed to help make farm decisions based on factors such as cost, return and markets.

Purdue University: Small Scale Livestock Enterprise

This mini-module helps users evaluate a small-scale livestock enterprise entry decision. It covers cow-calf operations, dairy steers, sheep, goats and turkeys.