BLACKSTONE – The state’s first pig barn open house of 2019 was in our own backyard.
Friends, family and community members attended the event for the new 2,496 head facility near Blackstone in northern Livingston County. Sixth-generation farmers Kevin and Tabitha Defenbaugh built the barn to better prepare their farm for the future.
“We grain farm with my dad and the family,” explained Kevin. “We were just looking for something to diversify that and make it a little more profitable for everybody.”
“I love farm animals so I was in for it 100 percent. It’s a way to make a living,” added Tabitha.
Visitors got an up-close look inside a modern pig barn before the pigs move in. The Illinois Pork Producers Association says new technology such as automatic fans and ventilation, 24/7 access to feed and water and a controlled environment make for safe living conditions for the animals.
The livestock sector provides $144.7 million to the Livingston County economy and over 500 jobs. In Illinois, the pork industry contributes $1.8 billion to the economy, generating over $170 million in taxes.
“This is typical of a hog farm in Illinois,” said Nic Anderson, business developer with the Illinois Livestock Development Group. “We’ll see some bigger than this but they are all kind of modeled this way.”
According to Anderson, this particular barn will produce 320,000 pork chops every year and around five million slices of bacon.
Tuesday’s open house was hosted by the Illinois Pork Producers and Illinois Livestock Development Group. ILDG is a coalition of ag groups committed to expanding and growing the livestock industry. Other sponsors included Frank & West Environmental Engineers, Hog Slat, JR Electric, Livingston County Farm Bureau, Maximum Ag Technologies and Midwest Bank.