Even if your closest link to farming is the fields you see when you are driving down the road, you probably know that spring means a lot of farmers are getting their crops in the ground. But what does springtime mean for livestock farmers? This weekend, I took a few photos of our cattle farm. As you can see, springtime means lots of baby animals on our farm!

We choose to have all of our calves born in the springtime. The main reason for this is the well-being of our cows and calves. Springtime usually offers good weather for calving- not too hot, not too cold. Extreme weather conditions are a threat to newborn calves, so we try to avoid exposing them to these kinds of weather conditions.

During calving season, we need to check our cows more often to make sure that we know if one is in labor and whether or not she needs help. Ideally, cows have their calves without assistance and everyone is happy and healthy. Once in a while, though, cows need help giving birth. Problems such as a leg or head positioned wrong can make it almost impossible for a cow to have her calf. If it takes her too long, the life of the newborn calf is at risk. Once the umbilical cord is broken, the calf has no oxygen supply, so it becomes priority to get the head and chest of the calf out quickly.

Cows aren’t the only ones with new babies on the farm! These cute little guys live in our shed where we store our seed for the crops. Mice can cause huge problems and waste a lot of seed by chewing holes in the seed bags, so keeping cats around helps to keep our mice population down and ultimately saves us money on seed.

We used to have pigs on our farm before all of our pasture was used for cattle. Springtime always meant (you guessed it) baby pigs! My dad would bring my brother and I with him to care for the new pigs, so we would always sit on the roof of the hog huts and hold piglets while he worked. Sows are incredibly protective, so the roof of the hog huts was a safe place to us to be while we were out working with dad.

Spring is a critical time of year for both grain and livestock farmers… but it is something we look forward to every year!

Rosie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Membership Administrative Assistant
Unpolished Boots


The livestock industry is important to Illinois.  Recent data suggests that the Illinois livestock industry puts $25,385 million dollars into the economy in the form of employment (salaries for farmers and farm laborers) and $292 million in taxes on property and buildings.  That’s a substantial chunk of the economic activity in the state.

Lucky for us, the sector is doing well in a time of low economic activity elsewhere.

The Livestock Management Facilities Act in Illinois regulates all livestock farms.  Today, we’re going to specifically talk about the portion of the act that pertains to livestock farms that are expanding or building new facilities in the state of Illinois.  Since January 1, 2012, we have seen over 30 notices of “intent to construct” which means that 30 farmers are planning new livestock operations or planning to expand their current farm.

Adding up those notices, we anticipate 40,000 newly constructed spaces for hogs, 2,000 spaces for beef cattle, and about 3,000 spaces for dairy cattle.  We also see about 4,000 spaces for poultry.

We can assign economic numbers to those animal spaces.  Examining the 40,000 new finishing spaces for the hog industry, farmers will inject 12 million dollars into the local Illinois economy just in building and construction costs alone.  Each of those hogs will consume 7-8 bushels of corn per year and the barn will “turn over” – empty and get new hogs – twice per year.  Today, a bushel of corn is selling for $6.51 which means that farmers are putting $400,000 into the rural economy for a year just in feed costs alone.

These new and expanding livestock farmers are also paying labor costs, electricity, property taxes, transportation costs, veterinarian costs and a host of other costs.  These new and expanding livestock farmers indicate economic stimulus for Illinois.

Nic Anderson
Illinois Livestock Development Group