Bill and Pat Dumoulin began farming together in 1954 near Hampshire, Illinois, about 60 miles west of downtown Chicago. Pat currently farms with two sons Mike and Pat – and a son-in-law, Bill. Bill passed away almost 5 years ago. Two grandsons of their 20 grandchildren have also come back to join the family farm and several other grandchildren are interested.
For years, the Dumoulins grew corn and soybeans and raised pigs, cattle and chickens, then began to focus their resources and expertise as they prepared for the next generation to enter the business.
“When our sons came back to the farm after college, we decided to specialize in hog production along with raising row crops,” she said.
They refurbished a dairy barn to house 250 sows and that was the beginning of the farrow to finish hog operation.
As the years rolled along their two sons finished college and wanted to farm with Bill and Pat.
“As we made decisions about expanding, we decided to lease facilities so that we can invest our money in sows and pork production instead of capital projects and buildings,” she said. “That was a big change for us, but gave us the ability to focus our resources on production.”
They currently finish about 45,000 pigs each year in a combination of owned and leased finishing barns. They have expanded farrowing capacity from 250 sows to 600, 1200 and currently have 2,100 with both sows on the home farm and in sow barns.
The Dumoulins invested in a sow center about four years ago as they were looking to expand their operation for the grandsons to enter. That barn is now part of the Pipestone Management. They have also invested in the Morgan Hill sow barn currently under construction in Indiana. When the Morgan Hill barn is operating and they begin receiving weaned pigs, they plan to begin phasing out farrowing on their own farm.
“As we look at how we divide our time and resources with finishing pigs and raising crops, it is a good investment to have experts focused on raising sows and farrowing,” she said. “At sow centers like Bethany and Morgan Hill, that is all they do.”
Dr. Charlie Schelkopf, swine veterinarian at Pipestone Veterinary Services in Bethany, Illinois, (previously Bethany Swine Health Services) has been a valuable source of information and advice to the family as their operation has grown and changed over the years.
Despite the challenges the family and farm has faced over the years, including the 1980s farm crisis, the 1998-99 hog industry downturn and more, Pat is positive about the opportunities and benefits of family farms.
“All our children have a college degree, we have a 20-second commute, eat three meals a day at home, and sleep every night in the same bed” she said. “I joke with my kids that we shouldn’t tell anyone about it because then everyone and their brother will want to farm.”
Her advice to families encouraging the next generation to join the farm?
“Parents have to talk up farming, encourage them … and pray like heck.”