Included among the 1,547 people who live in tiny Teutopolis, Illinois, are farmer David Hartke, his wife, Korrine, and their four children. Not included in that total are the thousands of hogs that David and his family raise. This town in central Illinois, about a three-hour drive from Chicago, is home to Hartke Swine Center, Inc., a fourth-generation family farm that could have over 5,000 hogs in its barns at any point in time.
David Hartke, who grew up on this farm and now runs it with his father, Phillip, says the family has no plans of leaving.
“Teutopolis will always be home to me,” Hartke says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to live, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to raise my four kids here.”
Farming is not only a career or a family tradition for Hartke, who grows soybeans, corn and wheat and raises beef cattle in addition to hogs. It’s a way of life that he hopes his children, Alex, Dustin, Garrett and Taylor, can also enjoy if any of them has an interest in farming.
As someone involved in both crop and livestock production, Hartke knows how much the two sectors depend on one another. He knows it’s important to produce high-quality crops to feed his hogs just like he knows it’s important to provide special care to his herd. He hopes this approach helps ensure his operation is around for his children to take over.
“The future of animal ag is a necessity for a productive cropping operation,” Hartke says.
The animal agriculture industry and soybeans have an intertwined relationship, with one sector depending on the stability of the other. Just like all other swine producers around the world, Hartke depends on soybean meal to provide his hogs with protein, amino acids, metabolizable energy and other important nutrients.
“Soybean farmers are constantly looking to improve their quality to meet the needs of our biggest customer because 97 percent of our domestic soybean meal goes to feed the livestock and poultry industries,” adds Hartke.
Soybean meal is an ideal feed ingredient that provides a great nutritional profile for animals. In fact, soybean meal is the most widely used source of protein in poultry and pig diets in the United States and abroad. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of all soybean meal produced in the world is fed to poultry and pigs.
“Soybean meal is by far the most important amino acid source that we have in diets fed to pigs,” says Hans Stein, professor at the University of Illinois’ Department of Animal Sciences.
Animal nutritionists use soybean meal to provide limiting amino acids in poultry and swine feeds. The level and balance of amino acids in soybean meal are primary drivers of meal usage. But this feed ingredient also provides energy, minerals and vitamins, according to Nick Bajjalieh, Ph.D., of Integrative Nutrition, Inc.
Demand for pork is growing at a rapid rate around the world. In fact, pork is one of the most consumed meats around the world, according to the latest statistics from the pork checkoff. Montenegro, Belarus and the European Union consume the most pork per capita around the world.
“Once a population of people can afford to start eating better, they want more protein in their diets,” Hartke says. “There’s no better way to do that than eating more meat.”
Whether he is raising hogs or growing soybeans for domestic or international use, Hartke’s farm and the sustainable products he provides will be there for generations to come.
“I care for the land and want to provide the customers of my soybean crop with the same high-quality standards that I use to feed my hogs,” Hartke concludes. “I raise sustainable products so that my kids have the opportunity to work on this farm that my family began generations ago.”