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Ed and Allison McEwen welcomed local community to their two new hog finishing facilities, operated in conjunction with Tri-Oak Foods.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

November 10, 2015

2 Min Read

Members of the greater Prairie City, Ill., community gathered for lunch in the hog house this week, as Ed and Allison McEwen held an open house for their new hog finishing facilities.

The two recently-finished buildings will house 2,498 hogs each; the first load of hogs will arrive this Thursday. McEwen is finishing hogs on contract for Tri-Oak Foods. For McEwen, the benefits are two-fold: the hog operation adds a sideline income and his family's farm benefits from the hog manure as fertilizer on nearby ground.

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"We looked at it as a business," McEwen says, speaking of his LLC investment partnership with his twin brother, Eric. "We did a cash flow statement as you would with anything. We figured costs and cash flow so it works out – at least on paper – before we did it."

McEwen also created computer models for the manure, so they'd know exactly how much they'd get and where it would go. Tri-Oak estimates the annual fertilizer value from one of McEwen's buildings at $25,000 to $26,000.

"We figure there's enough manure created per building per year for 160 acres, depending on the rate and timing," McEwen says. They have a 240 acre farm next to the facilities and a 120 down the road, and they're working with neighbors to utilize any remaining manure.

And while McEwen initially figured on one building, drilling the well and planning to add a second building down the road, he ultimately decided to build both now. He attempted to bore a well but didn't get enough water. A 780-foot drilled well ultimately yielded good water flow.

His efforts recently have been good for local business, with 1,500 yards of concrete poured for the two buildings. The concrete came from a local business, which said they'd poured more concrete in a week at his place than they had in the entire past year. Feed storage bins came from local Schuld/Bushnell bins, and all his feed will come out of the Bushnell-based Tri-Oak feed mill.

The building will house 2,498 hogs each, with 56 pens per building and 44 pigs per pen.

Iowa-based Tri-Oak Foods has contracted with 60 hog producers in Illinois, and an additional 190 in Iowa.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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