ASSUMPTION, Ill. — For the Waddington and Walk families,
pork production comes as naturally as FFA.
“I had hogs as an FFA project in high school. That’s the
first I can remember having them on my own,” said R.D. Waddington.
Waddington was speaking inside the newly-finished 2,400-hog
finishing barn that is the newest addition to his family’s farm.
The barn, built by Niebrugge Ag Service of Dieterich, was
opened up to the public with an open house sponsored by the Illinois Pork
FFA was a common theme found in the two families involved in
the new venture.
“We’ve always had sows since the 1960s, so we’ve been in the
hog business since then. Our hog business started out with a purebred Duroc herd
back in the 1960s as an FFA and 4-H project of my older brothers,” said Roger
Walk of Walk Stock Farms in Neoga.
The Waddingtons contracted with Walk Stock Farms to finish
hogs in the 2,400-head finishing barn. The Waddingtons will supply the building
and labor, and Walk Stock Farms supplies the pigs and everything that goes into
The Waddingtons began talks with Roger Walk in February of
2012 after they decided to add to their farm operation in anticipation of their
youngest child, son Reece, a freshman at Central A&M High School, someday
returning to the farm.
“We were trying to think of something else to add value to
our farm and to bring our son back to the farm one of these days,” said R.D.
Waddington, who had raised hogs and left the pork production business in the
mid-1980s. “I’ve always had a fondness for raising hogs, and it kind of drew us
The Waddingtons also raise corn, soybeans, wheat, white corn
and seed corn.
R.D. Waddington is the third generation on the family farm.
Reece and his sisters, Gabrielle and Riley, are the fourth.
Gabrielle is a registered nurse at Carle Foundation Hospital
in Urbana. Riley, who also has expressed a desire to work on the family farm, is
a licensed cosmetologist and plans to open her own business.
Roger Walk said the Waddingtons and their plans and values
are a good fit with Walk Stock Farms.
“We were looking for quality growers to work with us. We
really liked the fact that they’re looking at bringing the next generation into
the farm because that tells me they believe in longevity and they want their
farm to continue. We felt each other was a very good fit. They have a lot of the
same values that we have, and they’re going to do a good job,” he said.
Reece Waddington, who just started in FFA and his freshman
year, said he is looking forward to the new farm venture. Pigs are slated to
arrive at the 101-by-193-foot two-room barn in late September.
“I’m pretty excited. I think it will be a fun learning
adventure,” Waddington said.
When asked if the building was constructed with plans for
Reece to run it some day, R.D. nodded.
“That’s our plan, yes,” he said as his son nodded agreement.
Members of the Central A&M High School FFA were on hand
to serve up porkburgers and grilled pork chops, as well as bottles of water and
As temperatures soared toward the 100-degree mark, the six
1.5 horsepower ventilation fans at the end of the building, along with two
single-horsepower fans, moved air through the building and kept guests cool
The building is tunnel ventilated, and air exchanges out of
the building every minute to minute and a half. Ceiling-mounted infrared heaters
will provide heat in the cooler months for the young pigs. Misters and soakers
in the ceiling are controlled by computer, as are the heaters and the fans.
Walk said the late-summer heat wave outside was a good
example of why indoor pork production is beneficial.
“Sometimes people question why we do the things we do on the
farm, and this is a perfect example. Today, it’s 95 degrees and about 90 percent
humidity, and it’s very comfortable inside these barns. The pigs are in here for
the benefit of the pigs and for the benefit of the people taking care of them. I
would much rather be in here today than in the sweltering heat,” he said.
The Waddingtons and the Walks kept their business local,
with Niebrugge Ag Services of Dieterich building the new barn and the wet/dry
feeders and waterers coming from FarmWeld in Teutopolis.
The new barn also relies on local and regional feed
supplies. The Walks grind and mix the feed that goes to their contract
“We feed locally-grown corn and locally-grown soybeans. Most
of our bean meal comes out of Decatur and our distillers comes out of Palestine
and our corn comes out of the Neoga area,” Walk said.
The Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC ethanol plant in Palestine
supplies the dried distiller’s grain.
When the hogs get to market weight, Walk Stock Farms trucks
will transport them to Cargill Meat Solutions in Beardstown or to Indiana
Packers in Delphi, Ind.
The contracts between the two families were signed in July
2012 at the height of the 2012 drought as crops in central Illinois withered
away. But Walk said that didn’t affect either family’s commitment.
“Just like the Waddingtons who have been farming in this
area for a long time, we’re not in this for the short term. We’re in it for the
long term. You don’t let one year’s crop determine what your long-term strategy
is,” he said.
“We’ve raised hogs for a long time. We’ve see the ups and
downs, we went through ‘98 and we’ve done all that. Our family is committed to
the pork industry, and I think the Waddingtons are a great addition.”