*My contributor, Emily attended this media trip. She received compensation in exchange for posting.*
This weekend I get to join the Illinois Farm Families on a tour with some local, family farmers. I went to college in Iowa to study animal science and I ended up with a master’s in physiology with a focus on animal behavior—I spent a lot of time on farms! I haven’t been on one since moving back to Illinois 5 years ago and I can’t wait to visit this one on Saturday!
What do you think today’s farms look like?
You might imagine large, corporate farms, but most farms today are actually still family owned. In Illinois, 97% of farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships, or family corporations! On Saturday I will be meeting with Mike and Lynn Martz with the Larson Farms Partnership.
Mike and Lynn Martz raise about 3,500 beef cattle and also grow soybeans, corn, and wheat on 6,350 acres of land. They’ve been farming since 1979 and believe in humane treatment of each animal and production practices that are environmentally friendly.
When I was in school learning about animal behavior, we talked a lot about humane farm practices and animal welfare. I got to hear Temple Grandin speak—she’s a professor at Colorado State University and one of the leading consultants to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She contributes her success in that area to her autism, saying that she has a better understanding of how the animals feel.
Let’s say farmers are having issues getting their livestock to move through chutes. Temple Grandin gets on her hands and knees—to see the world from their perspective—and talks about the shadows and bends that cause fear to the animals and make them stop walking. She has changed the livestock industry with her recommendations and designs. I’ve read her books on the topics, too, and she is simply amazing!
I am excited to see a working farm putting these practices to use. I want to see what Mike and Lynn Martz are practicing on their farm and how they contribute to the welfare of their animals.
What questions do you have for today’s family farmers?
Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to include your questions at my visit on Saturday! Watch for a follow up post. Here are some of my questions…
- What’s the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef? Natural and organic?
- What do we need to know about pesticides and GMOs?
- What should we look for on labels at the store?
- What steps do you take to ensure animal well-being?
- How has the way you farm changed since you began in 1979?
- What’s your favorite part of working with cattle and farming?!
Guest Writer: Emily Dickey, a Chicago area blogger, went from teaching college physiology to being home with her two children as a social media coordinator, writer, and childbirth educator. You can find her at babydickey.com and emilyrdickey.com.
Written in partnership with Illinois Farm Families. Any opinions are my own.