It's a passion for farmers to raise these animals with as much care as they would any animal.

Featured Video

Gestation and farrowing stalls protect sows and piglets

Individual care and attention is given to each animal

Mother pigs (sows) are kept in gestation stalls to protect them:

  • On their own, sows are aggressive toward each other
  • Pigs compete for food and dominance

Farrowing stalls allow sows space to give birth and protect baby piglets.

Perspectives

Chris & Dana Gould Family

Chris & Dana Gould Family

Maple Park, IL

Full Profile
 

About our family

We have three children: Kelsey is 17, Vanessa is 13, and Andrew is 11.

About our food

We grow 2,700 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and care for 700 sows in our “sow center.” We specialize in the part of the pork production process that focuses on breeding, gestation (pregnancy), and farrowing (birthing) piglets.  The piglets stay with their mothers in the sow center until they’re done nursing and are ready for solid food. We use a boar to detect when the sows are interested in breeding again.

About our farm

Gould Farm is a family owned and operated grain and livestock farm located exactly 50 miles west of the Loop, and situated roughly between St. Charles and DeKalb.

We farm with Chris’ parents, Eldon and Sandy. Eldon focuses mostly on the hogs, while Chris focuses on the crops.  Dana helps in the office with bookkeeping. 

Chris and Eldon are also partners with Steve Pitstick in a custom-farming company called Precision Farm Partners, LLC, a farm machinery ownership company that shares machinery and labor.

 

Chris & Dana on...

Our farming philosophy

Operate our family farm in a way that provides for us and our employees; leaves the environment in better condition to be used by future generations; and makes us a good neighbor in our community.

The best thing about being a farmer

I truly enjoy the ability to see the fruits of our labors, in cooperation with God’s providence, at the end of the year, or even the end of the day.

From a Farmer

We have no incentive to mistreat the animals. They are our livelihood. That can cover everything you hear about livestock. We have every incentive to treat them as well as we can because that's when they produce the best, that's when they make us the most money. If all we cared about was money, then our ultimate motivation would still be to take the best care of our animals as we can.

We try to keep the sows as comfortable as possible. We'll use heat lamps to keep the pigs warm, and keep the room temp around 71-72°, which is the way the sows like it. The fans are on timers and thermostats so we get some ventilation all the time and if it gets too hot it pulls more air across. There are drippers to wet the sows when it gets warm.

Betsie Estes

Betsie Estes

Elk Grove Village, IL

Full Profile

About me

I was raised in the Chicago area, and I'm back after spending eight years in Texas. I'm constantly trying to find new ways to cook things that will be appealing to preschoolers!

About my family

We have two children, 4-year old daughter Sophie, and 3-year old son Daniel. We love to take bike rides, go fishing, travel, and enjoy everything this amazing area has to offer. My husband and I split the cooking duties. Some of our favorite meals are our weekend breakfasts – my biscuits and gravy are to die for!

Why I'm touring farms

I worry about the hormones and antibiotics in food and how those things will affect my children down the road. I also worry about the demise of the family farm and the livelihood of the people who work so hard to keep this country healthy, happy and well-fed. Family farms are such an important part of America's heritage, and they need to be revered and preserved. I think everyone should know how much work goes into getting food from the field to the table.

How I plan my family's meals

There's a lot more planning that comes with being a mom, and especially a working mom! Not only do I have to make sure I'm cooking food my kids will eat and still offering healthy options, I have to plan every single meal well in advance to make sure the preparation will fit into our busy lives.

From a Mom

I was particularly interested in seeing the living conditions of the pigs on the farm. While it was a little shocking to see all the pigs lined up in stalls, it was actually a much calmer, cleaner, humane environment than the media had led me to believe. I really loved hearing Dr. Janeen Salak-Johnson, a researcher from the University of Illinois, speak to us about gestation stalls – why they're used, and the pros and cons of some alternative methods. It's easy to see a picture of a pig in a stall and jump to conclusions about that pig's quality of life, but that's why I'm so happy to be a Field Mom – I actually got to see how the pigs were treated firsthand. I didn't see a single pig that I thought was being abused, neglected, or otherwise mistreated. On the contrary, I could see how the crates actually keep the pigs healthy by allowing the farmers to efficiently and safely provide them with quality care.

Dr. Janeen Salak-Johnson

Dr. Janeen Salak-Johnson

Urbana, IL

Full Profile
From an Expert

The number one goal of those raising animals for food is to provide proper care for those animals. More specifically, I have devoted the past eight years of my research program to improving housing systems for pregnant pigs (sows). There are numerous ways to provide proper care for sows including gestation stalls. There are advantages and disadvantages to every housing system including gestation stalls, open pens, free access stalls or pasture. When it comes to providing care for the pregnant sow, one-size does not fit all. Simply putting a sow in a group pen or out on pasture does not equate to improved well-being because more space DOES NOT equate to improved well-being, it's the quality of space not the quantity of space.

Heather Guido

Heather Guido

Oak Park, IL

Full Profile

About Me

We are a family of four, and our two boys love visiting Grandpa to “help” him on the farm whenever we visit New York. While I grew up on an acreage growing grapes, I want to learn more about Midwestern farming, as it’s an industry I don’t know much about.

Why I'm touring farms

While I’ve heard many moms talking about genetically modified food in a negative light, I’d like to know more and share what I learn. There are so few people connected to farming, especially in the Chicago area, that someone has to help educate our children about agriculture.

From a Mom

After hearing from several hog farmers on our tour last weekend and seeing the Gould Hog farm, I am convinced that the gestation stalls are a safe and healthy way to house the Gould's pigs. It works for them. They have healthy and productive animals.

Raising pigs indoors allows farmers and/or pigs to limit the risks of disease and illness in the pigs. And eliminate predators.

Jill Thurmond

Jill Thurmond

Deer Park, IL

Full Profile

About Me

I’m a wife and mother of two boys. I love to cook, bake and read, while my boys love to play sports and eat my creations (especially when baked goods are involved)!

Why I'm touring farms

Aside from what I grow in my own garden every summer, I’m not all that knowledgeable about how food is grown. I’m looking forward to becoming more educated in food production and sharing that knowledge with family and friends. I’m also excited to meet other moms in my community!

From a Mom

Grown pigs are usually around 280 pounds when they go to the processing facilities and about 140 pounds of food ends up packaged and in the grocery stores.

Gestation stalls allow for one-on-one care of each animal and more close monitoring of food intake and overall nutrition.Raising pigs indoors allows farmers and/or pigs to live in temperature controlled environments and have protection from predators and other animals that might carry disease to them. Farmers have greater ability to monitor and control how much the pigs are eating and make sure they are all getting what the need. Every farrowing stall is cleaned and disinfected after the sow and piglets are moved.

Kathy Goers

Kathy Goers

Round Lake Beach, IL

Full Profile

About Me

I was an educator for years, but “semi-retired” to be home with my three boys and husband. Since then, I’ve become co-founder of a nonprofit organization, The Busy Brains Children’s Museum.

Why I'm touring farms

While I’ve passed by many farms, I’ve never taken the time to learn more about them. They have an enormous impact on my life, and I feel that’s something I should learn more about and teach others about as well. I plan to share what I learn with my kids so they can have a better respect for farmers, and I also want to take what I learn and apply it to our exhibits and programming at the children’s museum.

From a Mom

The pigs are kept inside to protect them from the changing temperatures/humidity, predators and diseases. I did not realize that a vet comes to the farm on a regular basis, to make sure that the animals are safe and healthy. Was most surprised by the amount of pigs that are kept on the farm and how the pigs are individually looked after.

What's your perspective?

comments powered by Disqus