Livestock farming is showing signs of renewed life in the Illinois Valley. Since stockyards began closing in Chicago in the 1970s, raising cows, swine and poultry and the family farm have been on the decline.

But that began to change when John and Kate Hagenbuch held an open house to officially open two 2,400-head Grow/Finish swine buildings on their farmland several miles east of Troy Grove in rural La Salle County.

“It was time to rebuild and this was the better option for us,” John Hagenbuch said. “The fertilization value of the manure helps us keep and edge.”

While most hog farms are built amid controversy, the Hagenbuchs have been very open about their facility and their practices. A tour of the facility revealed state-of-the-art features such as clear feed tubes, ventilation systems to keep unpleasant odors from encroaching on neighbors and other features so that the sow are kept humanely. The Hagenbuch’s pigs will enter the facility weighing 50 pounds until they reach the market weight of 275 pounds.

“This building project is simply an expansion of our commitment to the safe and humane production of hogs,” Kate Hagenbuch said. “A lot is changing where kids aren’t staying on the farm. We’re trying to build something that they can have one day, too.”

Monty Whipple, president of La Salle County Farm Bureau, said the farm bureau has been trying to reignite the livestock industry in the state of Illinois.

“We want farmers to do what farmers do best, feed our country and a hungry world,” Whipple said. "The Hagenbuchs are an example of that.”