FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) — Malcom DeKryger is seeing a two-year
dream come alive in the form of Pig Adventure, the latest agritourism
destination at Fair Oaks Farms.
“To do a joint venture like this, which ‘piggy backs’ on the
intent and themes of what Fair Oaks has been about for eight or nine years, is
really exciting,” DeKryger, president of Belstra Milling Co., told The Times in Munster.
The latest venture by Fair Oaks Farms, the nation’s largest
agritourism facility, follows the popular Dairy Adventure, which is powered
entirely by cow manure produced at the site.
Now, pig manure is added to the mix and used to power buses
covered in photos of pink piglets that transport visitors to the
110,000-square-foot building that houses the Pig Adventure just north of the
main Fair Oaks facility on Interstate 65.
“We very quickly came to realize that the pig is really the
star of the show, so our emphasis is to show how amazing the pig really is,”
Tourists are greeted at the Pig Adventure building by
virtual guides on a life-sized flat screen waving them in. Visitors move into a
large, interactive exhibit hall where they can learn about the history of pig
farming and virtually chomp up pig feed on an image projected on the floor and
watch a video about the Pig Adventure before taking a virtual shower just as the
farmers do before entering the gestation barn.
There, visitors view the farm’s operations below from
second-floor exhibit halls with glass walls in climate-controlled, carpeted
“We see people just staring at the interaction of the staff
and pigs,” DeKryger said. “There’s just a lot of touch between the people and
the pigs, and both are really comfortable with it.”
Some 2,400 pigs in the building are either pregnant or soon
will be. All of the pigs are artificially inseminated.
Electronic sow feeders use computers to scan radio frequency
identification devices implanted in the sows’ ears, which tell the machine how
far they are in their gestation period and how much food to dispense for that
The tour then moves to the birthing barn, where all the sows
are either in labor or recently gave birth. Leah Lentini, an intern from Kouts,
said there are as many as 6,700 piglets at the farm on any given day, with about
250 born daily.
The pigs produced at the farm are sold to farmers in
Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. A gilt developer unit is scheduled to open Aug.
Lentini said Fair Oaks pigs and dairy cows are just the
beginning. Fair Oaks hopes to add chickens, beef, aquaculture and crops to its
agritourism mix in the next 10 years, she said.
Susan Webb, executive assistant at Fair Oaks Farms,
confirmed plans to break ground this fall on a full-service restaurant and for a
groundbreaking for a hotel in 2014. A fruit orchard already has been planted and
is growing as part of a future exhibit, Webb said.
DeKryger said kids tend to be the most vocal about their
excitement with the latest exhibit, but he’s heard from seniors, as well.
“I had a 90-something-year-old man look at me the other day
and in his very slow, quiet way say, ‘This is amazing,’” he said. “That was
confirmation to me that we have accomplished what we set out to achieve.”
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