WENONA — Sandy Creek Lane sow farm in Marshall County welcomed the community to an open house on April 26. The farm, which consists of three barns, sits on five acres of land northwest of Wenona and will be home to 5,600 sows. Once the farm is in full swing, it will provide for 21 full-time employees.
The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), along with the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG), helped coordinate the event, which included free pork chop sandwiches for visitors. More than 500 guests attended the event and toured the farm.
Employees of VMC Management set up 10 stations throughout the farm to explain each location in the barn and provide a thorough tour. Signs at each stop gave pictures to help visualize what it will look like with pigs inside. The tour took place before pigs are in the barns, to allow ample time for a deep clean before they arrive next month.
Construction of the farm was an effort from more than 40 different businesses and gave jobs to more than 200 people. Materials used in the building process totaled 9,000 yards of concrete, 93,985 lineal feet of steel, 654,353 board feet of lumber, and over 15,000 ton of rock from two local quarries.
Sandy Creek Lane will contribute more than $2 million to the local economy by supporting other local businesses, providing a market for local commodities, and providing increased tax revenue to the county and local school district. Around 17 million pounds of feed will be consumed per year, which is greater than $1,000,000 of locally grown and harvested corn and soybeans.
This sow farm has many innovative technologies to increase security and comfort for the pigs. For instance, manure produced by the pigs is collected and controlled under the pig barns in 8- to 10-foot deep concrete pits. These pits are reinforced with steel and allow zero discharge. The manure is then tested for its nutrient value and applied on local farmland to provide organic fertilizer for crops such as corn and soybeans. In using precision ag technology, manure is incorporated directly under the soil in the spring and fall.
VMC Management, Williamsburg, Iowa, consists of veterinarian managers, production managers, and support staff. Veterinarians visit farms approximately every 2 weeks. Most common model for VMC Management sow farms is that farmers have ownership in the sow farm and subsequently take delivery of the weaned pigs to grow-out in their own facilities.