“They Designed Their Own Farrowing House”

A Legacy 

The year was 1964. The magazine Successful Farming released their November issue, and on page 92 was an article about Roger and Richard Mulch. They were called Mulch Brothers, and they had designed their own farrowing house for their farrow to finish swine operation.

The Mulch Brothers, Roger and Richard, of Hancock County, Illinois, were pioneers in using slotted floors for farrowing. They first tested slats in ’59. And slotted floors were one of their first considerations when they decided to design their own farrowing facility 2 1/2 years ago. Their only outside help was plans for zone ventilation, furnished by the University of Illinois. What they came up with is a 40-stall building 60×42′. Sow feeding units at each end of the house measure 26×42’…

Schedule: Roger and Richard Mulch farrow pigs in January, April, July, and October. Pigs are weaned at 4 1/2 weeks. Pigs remain in the slotted floor units for 2 months in summer, then go to pasture. In the winter, the shoats are finished out on concrete feeding floors nearby.

–Successful Farming, November, 1964 Issue

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Picture of hard copy of the Successful Farming November, 1964, issue.
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Richard Mulch, 1964; owned by Richard Mulch.

My grandpa, Richard, and his brother, Roger, were innovators of their time. The farrowing house they designed is where I first started doing my part on the family farm. Even at a young age, I would help process and wean piglets with my sisters. Seeing the hard work my grandpa and his brother put into their swine operation is one of the many reasons why I love agriculture.

Richard in present day farrowing house, June, 2015; owned by me.

The legacy that my grandpa and his brother started can still be seen through my grandpa and my dad, Stephen. R&S Mulch Farms, Inc., utilized this farrowing house along with farming approximately 720 acres of corn and soybeans. After using the farrowing house for 55 years, the sow herd was sold in December of 2016. My dad continues to be involved in the swine industry, feeding 300 to 600 hogs for a local producer through contract feeding.


A Farming Family

November, 2017; owned by me.

Agriculture has and will continue to be a major part of my life. Growing up on the family farm has been one of the most rewarding experiences to help me grow as an individual, and I feel honored to be apart of this legacy.  Being involved with the Mulch Farm has been a very memorable and knowledgeable experience for me. The work experience that I have been exposed to has made me a more appreciative person.

My family, December 2017

Thanks to how I was raised, I see how necessary it is to work together to reach a goal rather than try and do it on your own.

Successful Farming has recently written another article “The Best Farrowing House Ever Designed”  to follow up on their 1964 issue with the Mulch Brothers. To read the full article and learn more about the history of this farrowing house, please visit https://www.agriculture.com/livestock/hogs/was-this-the-best-farrowing-house-every-designed.


About the Author


Hello! My name is Aleetha Mulch, and I am a Senior at Western Illinois University. I’m from Sutter, IL, and I will be graduating this December with a degree in Agriculture Business and a minor in Accounting. I enjoy being involved on campus, and I am currently in Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Ag Council, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Agriculture Mechanization Club. Thank you for taking time to read my blog, and I hope you enjoyed it!







The Influence of Online Bidding Platforms in the Auction Industry

Ever since being a kid following my dad around at auctions has been a blessing for me, and has given me the opportunity to see the auction industry from many views.  Meeting many unique people, working countless auctions, and hearing hundreds of different auctioneers sell from all over America. It is something that I am very fortunate to have been born into, that I always want to be apart of.

Over the past decade we have seen a big shift in the auction industry with online auction platforms being introduced and growing  bigger and bigger each year. However, this is not a bad thing because auctioneers can reach larger audiences with online sales. A lot of auctioneers now do live auctions, and also operate strictly online sales as well.  This allows them to have versatility and decrease the turn around time for auctions. For instance you could have a farm auction one day, and the next day you could have an online sale that you pictured and set up weeks ago. It also allows for the auction company to be diverse and increase their profits.

An online sale platform called Proxibid is one of the hottest sites out there right now because of all the services it can provide for auction companies. Proxibid allows either to have a strictly online sale that is open for a certain amount of time, or bidders can actually watch, listen, and bid on a live sale with out being there. While watching the auction buyers can bid on items that are selling at that exact moment. All that is required to sign up for an account, is to enter some general information and billing information to pay for the items that are sold. Auction websites or social media pages can have a direct link to Proxibid’s website.

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People always ask if online platforms such as Ebay, Craigslist, and other online selling platforms will overtake live auctions completely. In my own personal opinion I do not think that they will. I believe that a live auction with the right audience will always bring more money than an online sale. This is because of the interaction between the auctioneer and the crowd. At live auction the auctioneer can stop and talk about an item. This allows the crowd to realize what the item they are bidding on is worth. Making them realize that it is worth more than the money then it is bringing at the moment. I have personally seen this happen numerous times and it almost always works. Bring more money for the item allowing for larger profits to be made.

My name is Carson Bloomberg and I am a Junior here at Western Illinois University from Orion, Il. studying Agriculture Science with a Minor in Animal Science. My dad is the owner of Bloomberg Auction Company located out of the Quad City Area, and where I have been working 100’s of auctions over my lifetime. I am member of the Alpha Tau Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho and am the current Noble Ruler for 2018. I am also on the Interfraternity Council where I serve as Vice President of Finance. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog! (Photo from Proxibid.com)



Maximizing Pasture Productivity

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your pasture?  If so, then rotational grazing may be your answer.  What this means is that you evaluate the forage quality and quantity while regulating the acreage that the cattle have access too.  Then when that piece, or paddock, becomes around 4-6″ tall you move them to the another one.  This is then repeated throughout the whole growing season allowing for maximum yield from your pasture.

You will see benefits in both your pasture health as well as your herd health.  Forage production will be increased, allowing it to recover quicker from grazing.  There is also less waste because the cattle are forced to eat everything rather than just selective grazing.  With that being said, cattle will even eat some less desirable plants which helps keep pastures more clean.  Everybody likes to get more for less, right?  Rotationally grazing can increase your stocking rate.  If every pasture is converted to this, then the number of cattle that that pasture can handle is increased.  Then the number of pastures could potentially be reduced which would in return reduce your pasture rent in a year as well making your overall operation more profitable.

From my personal experience rotational grazing may require more effort and time, but it pays for itself.  The time spent in the pasture is by no means a waste.  This allows you to closely access your cattle for health issues such as pink eye.  Also, by keeping the cows on fresh grass it helps them supply better milk to the calves, allowing for a bigger and better looking calf at weaning.  When you place a recently weaned calf out of a rotationally grazed pasture next to one where the whole pasture was grazed, there will be a noticeable difference between the two.  We also see that our grazing season is extended which cuts back on the need for hay.


My name is Justen Woods and I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am majoring in Agricultural Science with a minor in Agricultural Business and I will be graduating in December of 2018.  I did not grow up on a farm, but have worked on one since I have been going to school, which is where my interest began to grow about the industry.  I have since bought some of my own cows that I run with my bosses cattle, which are rotationally grazed.

(All picture are my own)

5 Things Growing Up On A Farm Taught Me

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From the time I could walk, all I can remember is running around barefoot outside and doing chores. While my father, grandfather, and uncle ran the actual farm, my mother and I were running a farm of our own. Chickens, ducks, guinneas, turkeys, rabbits, goats, pigs, and the occasional bottle calf were just a few of the animals we fostered and raised. It was instilled in me at a very young age that feeding the world is the most fulfilling job out there. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t just a job, it was a way of life. There is just something about being up early on a dewy morning to check my animals that gave me a sense of peace. It brings such a sense of pride to see the fruits of your labor grow and be successful.

IMG_0337 (2)Growing up on a farm made me a stronger person and taught me lessons that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. These are the most important lessons I’ve learned growing up on a farm:


First and foremost, you learn to be humble. You won’t always be successful, and that’s okay. You learn to appreciate what you have, and appreciate your successes a whole lot more.

Hard Work

There are no days off in farming. With my livestock, I was up all night waiting patiently on a new litter of pigs or filling the water tank for the 3rd time on a hot day. Whether you want to or not, the job has to get done.

Dealing with Loss

I was a soft-hearted child, so this did not come easy for me. It was hard to accept the fact that not every animal is going to make it. You learn to cope with these sort of IMG_1518 3situations, however, it’s a part of life.


When you are a farmer, you are your own boss. No one is going to bark orders at you or remind you to complete your tasks for the day. You have to have the drive to carry 20 50lb bags of feed from the truck to every feeder or make sure that planter gets the seeds in the ground before tomorrows rain.


Even though it might be the 4th time that week that the cows got out, you learn to be less frustrated and more calm in these situations. You might have heard the saying “herding cats”; well herding chickens is not easier. Chickens are faster than they look, let me tell you, but they still have to be back in the coop before sundown. You learn patience with these uncooperative little things work better than curse words.

Farming is not always picturesque; farms go under, crops fail, livestock perish. Farmers work their tails off to make sure that the next generation have a successful business to take over. Looking back, I am very thankful to have experienced life on the farm because it gave me an immense respect for how hard farmers work despite setbacks. Setbacks in life are inevitable, but we have to push through these tough times and continue to look towards a brighter future.


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Hi, my name is Kate Elliott and I am from Palmyra, IL. I am a junior at Western Illinois University studying Agriculture Science with a minor in Agronomy. I am a member of the Sigma Alpha professional sorority and a proud farmer.





(I own all photos pictured above.)

Online Showpig Sales VS. Live Auctions

Just like the trends in the livestock world that we select for and breed in today’s world, the way we market and sell showpigs has drastically changed over time as well. The live auction method is one of the oldest traditions and has been the most successful for livestock producers for many, many years. For the longest time, showpig breeders would hire an auctioneer to sell their pigs to 4-H or FFA families to exhibit at their youth show of intention, and also gilts and boars to other breeders, to be used at their respective farms. These sales would generally take place at their farms. Fast forward through time to around the late 90’s into the early 2000’s when a couple of gentlemen, who had a vision to market and sell show livestock online, made it a reality. They created their own websites that were designed to market and sell livestock through online sales.

The presence of the websites was unlike anything breeders at the time were used to. In the past, if a breeder was searching for that next boar to breed to or more gilts to be added to their breeding plans, they found their information through magazines, booked indexes, ads that were mailed to their farms, but mostly, they world travel from location to location to buy and sell their hogs. When the online websites began to gain popularity, breeders could now takes pictures and videos of their livestock and send them to be posted on the new online pages. The ones which we know now today as Willoughby Sales and Showpig.com. This new marketing opportunity for breeders was literally light years ahead of what they were used to. The time that breeders could now save themselves by looking up boars on boar stud websites and seeing the genetics that were being utilized was now all within a few clicks of a button.

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Showpig.com homepage showing a list of online auctions

Showpig breeders took this new opportunity to sell and distribute their hogs at a quicker and more efficient manner. Breeders could now post pictures of their pigs to be sold to buyers from all across the country, and the buyers now had the opportunity to bid and buy their favorite lots by sitting in the comfort of their living room. This had incredible perks for the buyers. Anyone who is in search of buying their pig could study the picture and description of the online sales, and for example, someone from California could now purchase their project from a breeder in the Midwest. This way of marketing and selling livestock cut travel time and expenses down tremendously for both breeders and buyers.

Along with showing livestock, unfortunately comes along with the scares of harmful viruses that swine is very susceptible to. The swine industry is commonly threatened by such viruses like PRRS virus, influenza, and PEDv. In 2013, PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) was introduced to the U.S. and certainly took its toll on many farms across the Midwest. One of the most common way these viruses can be spread is though physical contact and foot traffic. With the presence of online sales now however, breeders could now limit their foot traffic though their facilities and have more of a handle of the harmful viruses.

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Example of online showpig picture from Adam Beck and Family Showpigs

With the positive opportunities for showpig marketing, the pressure on breeders now have never been higher. The buyer now has an expectation of what they are seeing through that photo or video, is honestly what they are getting. It is very important for breeders to spend substantial amount of time now to capture the “perfect” picture opportunity, to truly express that particular animal and it’s angles to where the buyer is seeing all of its aspects.


The question now is, do people even utilize the method of live auctions to sell and buy showpigs? The answer is they absolutely still do! The National Swine Registry and Certified Pedigreed Swine organizations host shows and type conferences year round across the country to give youth a great opportunity to exhibit their animals and breeders the chance to exhibit and then sell their seed stock to their fellow breeders. Today, many breeders still have their own annual production sale. Many breeders work along side one another with hosting consignment live auctions as well. One of the great aspects that comes along with a live auction is simply the atmosphere. The fact is people just love auctions! There is something about that adrenaline rush when you hear the auctioneer firing on all cylinders and it is a truly a real life emotional feel that you as a buyer go to an auction, gather a plan go through the exciting process of getting the animal bought and getting it home and starting the project.

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Live auction from the NSR Fall Classic in Duncan, Oklahoma

When I was younger and started out my showing career, some of my most dearest childhood memories were loading up in the truck with family and friends and going from farm to farm, auction to auction. It was during those times where I built lifelong relationships with breeders who were always more than willing to invest their time and knowledge in me. From selecting livestock, decision making skills, and the practices of proper animal husbandry. Going to farms and experiencing auctions can create some of the best memories with friends and family that are simply irreplaceable. I feel that going to auctions for a young person to purchase their animal gives them more of a hands-on experience, and certainly teaches responsibility while going through the stages of the auction experience.

When the time came around to choosing a topic to write about for my blog, this particular subject quickly came to mind for me. It is something that I have a true passion for, and a strong interest. Ever since I was young I have been intrigued by the auction method of both marketing and selling livestock. My blog was by no means meant to be a biased based platform in determining if one of the two methods is better than the other. Honestly, I truly believe they are both great! The reason why one method is not better than the other is simple. Breeders are not all alike in their methods of how they market and sell their animals, and not all buyers prefer to be alike as well. I am a firm believer in that the youth livestock industry is one of the greatest ways to raise our young people and the experiences and values that they receive through this program is unmatched by any other.


300.4850.015(1)My name is Blake Stephenson and I am a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in the Ag Science department with an emphasis on animal science. I received my auctioneer’s license from World Wide College of Auctioneering in June of 2017.  I am from Coatesville, Indiana and while at Western, I have remained very involved in the Hoof n Horn club. When I receive my Bachelor of Science Degree at WIU, I plan to have a career in an animal agriculture profession. I certainly hope you have enjoyed my blog, and I thank you for your time in viewing it!



What the WIU Livestock Farm Has Taught Me

Growing up working with my grandpa, dad, and older brother you could say my hands on experience was limited. I grew up on a small family farm raising cattle and sheep, as well growing corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. I was heavily involved in 4-H and showing livestock throughout my childhood.  I was the little girl that always wanted to be helping take care of the animals, wanting to go on rides in tractors/ combine, and getting the great job of driving the truck when everyone else had to buck bales.

Like I said in the beginning when it came to helping on the farm I had to work with my grandpa, dad, and older brother because they were more experienced than me. Now while I am thankful for learning from them and having them teach me everything they knew it kinda hindered my hands on experience. As most of us all can agree, sometimes its just easier letting the more experienced person do the task at hand rather than you venturing out and doing it yourself. I am currently an employee at the WIU livestock farm and I am here to tell you that it is so much better venturing out and doing a task on your own.

Before working at the WIU farm I considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable about livestock, well with cattle and sheep that is. I quickly learned that while I felt like I had a lot of experience it was nothing compared to what my bosses were expecting out of me. A typical day at the WIU farm for me consists of me doing the daily chores, doing any vaccinations that are needed, and cleaning the livestock pens. Now all this is pretty easy to do and isn’t anything new for me, however when everything starts having babies at the farm that’s when it gets interesting and where I really got to get some hands on experience.


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Tubing a new born lamb

I grew up helping my dad deliver lambs every year. I bold helping because that is exactly what I did was help, I never got the opportunity to do it myself till I started working at the WIU farm. I now can confidently say that I have delivered 10 plus lambs all by myself. When I say helping with the delivery I mean helping with the birthing process, making sure that lamb is milking and doing well, and as it gets older giving it the proper health care that it needs. Here at the WIU farm I am trusted to complete these take with every lamb that is delivered. I also have never had to tube a lamb before and again I got the opportunity to do it at the farm with both a little bit of guidance and completely by myself. I didn’t get this opportunity because I already had a background in sheep but because the farm is meant for learning opportunities.


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Processing piglets

Since my background was in sheep and cattle my experience with swine was very limited, pretty much nonexistent.  I quickly learned the proper vaccines for pigs whether it be for an injury, sickness, or just booster vaccinations. Also learning about the proper nutrition for a sow/ gilt, feed hogs, and show stock.  I also quickly learned about farrowing. Many sleepless nights later and I now can confidently say that I have delivered 10 plus sows/ gilts and probably more than 40 piglets. When we first started farrowing I never thought I would get to help deliver any babies because my lack of experience but here the WIU farm you quickly learn what you are needing to be doing in order to get the job done.


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Processing a calf 

Now when it came time for calving season I soon realized that this was probably the thing that I had the most experience in but I still was learning new things. While I have helped deliver calves at home and at the WIU farm I still have not gotten to 100% do it by myself because most of the time the cows either have it on their own or the calves need pulled and I am not strong enough to do that on my own. That being said though I am never left out of the process just because I’m not strong enough I still get to help process calves and give them all the vaccines that are need. Even with my background I am learning new things every day because I am having to make decision and do things by myself and with very little guidance.

Working at the WIU farm has giving me so many opportunities whether that be learning and getting more hands on experience or making friendships that truly will last a lifetime. Everyone is welcome at the WIU farm whether you have agricultural background or not and if you don’t, we would be more than willing to give you a tour and explain this life as livestock producers.

About the Author: 

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My name is Becca Wegs and I am currently a senior Ag Business major with a minor in Animal Science at Western Illinois University and will be graduating in December. I am from Mt. Sterling, Illinois, just a short 45 minutes from Macomb, which is one of the many reasons I choose WIU. Another reason I choose WIU was the outstanding Agricultural program and the ability to be a non agricultural major and still have involvement in the program. Now I am heavily involved at WIU, I am apart of Sigma Alpha, CFB, Ag Vocators, Hoof N’Horn, and an employee at the farm. I will be graduating in December of 2018 ready to put my degree to work out in the work force.

Photo credits to: Jana Knupp (WIU School of Agricultural Facebook page), Lindsey O’Hara 

BHE WIU: The Hoge Experience

Dan and Mark Hoge are the greatest multi-species evaluators the livestock industry has ever seen. Both Dan and Mark have judged livestock shows all over the United States and several countries around the world. Dan Hoge is the livestock judging coach at Black Hawk East community college in Galva, Illinois.  He and his wife Dianna reside in Walnut, Illinois and operate a 40 sow showpig operation.  Dan and Dianna have two children, Kathy who lives in Kewanee, Illinois and Their son, my judging coach here at Western Illinois University is Mark Hoge. Mark resides in Good Hope, Illinois with his wife Katie and three kids; Carter, Nolan, and Nora. Mark is the Associate Professor of Animal Science at Western Illinois University and received his Ph.D at Michigan State University. He and his family raise and exhibit cattle, sheep, and swine all over the United States at a very competitive level.

From starting at Black Hawk East and having no judging experience, to where I am today at Western Illinois University, has been one wild ride. Through it all there is one thing that has stayed consistent, and that is the Hoge family. Like many young livestock judges we all have a mentor, but in my case I have two. Being able to learn under Dan and Mark Hoge has been an experience that I will never take for granted. Many coaches teach you how to place four head of livestock purely to try and win a judging contest. These two men do so much more with their students then the “average” coach. Being a member of both Black Hawk and Western Illinois’ programs I have learned that we get the inside tour wherever we go. There are a couple memories that stick out in my mind that I will never forget such as being able to look at the International Champion Brahman bull at the V8 ranch in Texas, seeing “In God We Trust” mother at Brandon Horns, or my personal favorite being able to evaluate the grand champion barrow at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from BroFarms. These are priceless opportunities that undergraduate students do not normally get the opportunity to see. My teammates and I were fortunate enough to get to see all this incredible livestock because of two incredible men changing the industry in the greatest ways possible.

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Sitting down with Mark or Dan Hoge, and talking about livestock or evaluation is second to none. They have a different outlook on life and are always positive about any situation. I talked with Mark and asked him if he could sum livestock judging in three words what would they be? His response was “commitment, drive and confidence”-Mark Hoge. He is right on. If you want to be a member of one of these storied programs, you must commit to the process even when things get tough.  You have to have the drive to stay up late giving reasons, and wake up early to look at livestock. Lastly you have to be confident in your judgment and make those close calls. We like to refer to it as, “talk em dirty”  here at Western Illinois University. As many people know, if you ask Mark for three words he is going to give you many more. He gave me a quote that is very true as I reflect on my judging career thus far. “It has been my experience that there is no other activity offered to an undergraduate student that can have a greater positive impact on professional development then being a member of a collegiate livestock judging team”- Mark Hoge.


Even if I never judge another show in my lifetime, I will always have the Hoge mindset engraved in my mind whether I am breeding livestock at home, or just living my daily life, “stay humble, stay hungry”. It is easy to say “that calf sucks” or “that barrow is awful” when you get beat. But something these two men have taught all of us students is to always have a positive mindset towards life and breed the best livestock we possibly can. Every judging team member can thank their coach’s for teaching them how to place classes and give reasons, but the Hoge family is different. They take you in as their own and teach you valuable life skills, and outlooks on life that will be priceless for my teammates and I.

unnamed (2)Thank you for reading my post! My name is Hunter Langholff and I am a junior here at Western Illinois University. I am an Ag Studies Major. I am also a member of the Livestock Judging Team. Both of my sisters and I have all attended Western Illinois University and have exhibited livestock across the country. I love the livestock industry and would be happy to visit with anyone about my experiences here at Western Illinois University or Black Hawk East.