April 8, 2016
Sometimes opportunity can look you right in the face. With low grain prices, and high land prices, now might be the time to look into diversifying your farm with livestock. Adding livestock to your crop farm can spread your risk, improve soil health, and help bring family members back into the business.
With an ever-changing grain market, adding livestock can provide another source of income. Working with integrators can reduce risk even further. Typically, they own the animals and pay you a regular, predetermined fee to rent your confinement space. And perhaps the best part is that you still own a very valuable farm asset: the manure.
Wes Strode, left, and Curt Strode, who farm near Marietta, Ill., added livestock and boosted their farm's bottom line.
Manure adds organic matter back into your soil, making it stronger and healthier for the next growing season and beyond. Manure can also offset some commercial fertilizer costs. “If you are growing corn-on-corn after soybean rotation, manure could save you close to $100 - $150 per acre,” says John Hagenbuch, a grain and livestock farmer from Utica, Ill.
Besides diversifying risk and lowering fertilizer costs, adding livestock can also give you the opportunity to expand your business and have the younger generation come home to farm. With record high land prices, it is hard to get started farming from scratch. With livestock, the additional income and additional labor required can create an opportunity for a son or daughter to come home.
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of livestock production, there are a variety of resources. At ilsoy.org/animalag you can find links to planning materials and other guides. You can also visit the Illinois Livestock Development Group at illinoislivestock.org for further resources on getting started.
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