Group housing for sows remained a popular topic at this year’s World Pork Expo. Hog Slat’s sales director, Fritz Richards, outlines his recommendations for stanchions.
What is the most common question asked about stanchions?
Probably the most common question is whether to use a solid or open style stanchion. We have not seen any difference in performance or sows’ behavior whether the divider panel is solid or open. The advantages of an open rodded stanchion system are:
- Better ventilation due to not blocking air movement with a solid panel.
- Improved visibility of workers to observe sows
- Lower cost
- Longer life of equipment
We also have not observed less fighting or movement at feeding time if the divider is solid. All of our knowledge has come from working with our customers around the world where we have supplied stanchion equipment for over 750,000 sow places.
What do you recommend for the length and width of the stanchion?
Most of the systems we have installed use an 18″ to 22″ wide stall with a 19″ long divider to protect the sow’s shoulder and head during feeding.
Several years ago we experimented with different lengths of dividers and found there really wasn’t much difference in sow behavior until we reached 36″ in length. What we did notice is that when we increased the stall length to 48″ the sows started using the stalls as a resting area instead of just using them at feeding.
The longer stalls allowed the more timid sows in the pen a “safe haven” where they could go to get away from the more aggressive animals. But at the same time, their movement isn’t restricted, and they can freely go in and out of the stall.
Does anything else change when the divider is lengthened?
Yes, we also spread the width out to 23″-24”. Since the stanchion was also being utilized as a resting area, we needed to provide the sows enough room to lie comfortably. Also, the pen size increased because it was necessary to allow at least seven feet between the end of the stanchion and the rear pen panel. This width avoids having a boss sow from lying across the pen and preventing the other sows from moving around freely.
What is the optimum number of head per pen?
In the beginning, we started with large pens, 50+ head, but we quickly discovered that the optimum number is 8-12 head per pen.
Stanchions continue to be the most a popular choice for many producers as they have proven to be consistent and reliable. This system adapts well to existing layouts for remodeling, there are no electronic systems to manage, and requires little additional training for the animals or caretakers.
Download your free copy of The Stanchion Handbook ,“A Practical Guide for Group Housing with Stanchions”
After animals are depopulated, the attitude on the farm shifts to preparing for the next round of animals. This traditionally includes cleaning the facility from top to bottom and applying a disinfectant. Any routine maintenance is performed, and those nagging issues that may have been noticed, but there wasn’t enough time for during production to fix, finally get the attention they need. One part of the operation that is often overlooked, however, is the water line. Sure, any stuck or leaky drinker nipples may be serviced or replaced, but by and large drinker lines are shut off and forgotten about until the pigs come back into the barn.
During this time the water line, while appearing benign on the outside, maybe even clean if the cleaning crew hit it with the pressure washer and disinfectant, is very much alive. Any leftover solids from the previous turn are settling inside the line from lack of flow. The biology present from the environment is multiplying, and any build up inside the lines is compacting into a concrete like substance. For all intents and purposes, the water line becomes an incubator while the pigs are out of the barn, especially when the barn is heated back up for repopulation. This, in turn, creates an interesting issue when the freshly weaned pigs take a drink from the line. The first drink a young pig gets is the worst drink it will get. It has the most biology, it is the warmest, oldest, and traditionally worst smelling/tasting water it will be exposed to in its life.
This is where terminal line disinfection comes in. Terminal line cleaning and disinfection occurs when the pigs are removed from the facility and line disinfectants can be applied to remove solids and eliminate any biology that is harbored in the lines. Aside from the obvious removal of pathogens, terminal line disinfection also improves the operation of the drinkers and increases the volume the line carries. The volume increase is especially important as we try to grow larger and larger finishing hogs with the same drinkers and drinker lines designed for market weight hogs 20% smaller.
The available data reflects this as well. Terminal line cleaning alone improved production at the research site as follows:
6-week wean-nursery trial – Lines cleaned and disinfected with Peraside (Peracetic Acid Disinfectant, Neogen Corp.)
Terminal line disinfection in this research trial was achieved with a 3% solution of disinfectant administered into the lines with a sump pump upon depopulation. The solution sat in the lines overnight and was flushed the next morning with fresh water. All the nipple drinkers were triggered to ensure proper function and the pigs were placed. The product can also be injected with a mixing station like the Dosatron Venturi Pump (DSA-Venturi) with the yellow metering tip installed.
This is similar to soap injector on a power washer and can be used in place of the normal medicator. The producer places the tube directly into the terminal line disinfectant and fills the lines and triggers the drinkers to ensure the product flows through all the parts of the drinker system. After allowing the solution to sit overnight, the producer then flushes the lines and triggers the drinkers again.
With a little effort, large production changes can be made, and the pigs no longer get the worst drink as their first drink.
Jesse McCoy, CWS, Business Unit Specialist, Water Treatment, Neogen Corp.
“These are the type of ventilation fans a poultry or hog producer would design to use on their own farms,” exclaimed Hog Slat engineer Tyler Marion. “The emphasis is on using corrosion resistant materials to reduce maintenance and delivering energy efficient air flow at typical operating static pressures.”
The new X-Brace fan series consists of a through-wall mount 54″ fan and an exterior mount 57″ panel fan. Composite fiberglass housings and poly discharge cones provide both models with excellent corrosion protection. A flush mount kit is also available for the 57” adapting it to through-wall installations.
Rigid X-Brace support
The fan series gets its name from an innovative X design which moves the anchor points of the support arms to the housing corners for maximum stability. The support arms are manufactured from aluminum tube with a blue epoxy coating for increased corrosion protection and incorporate a triangular edge profile to reduce wind turbulence. Rubber corner mounts cushion the fiberglass housing from vibrations. The stainless steel support plates for the motor and bearing assembly bolt to the X-Brace with stainless steel hardware.
Improved bearing life
A new solid base bearing housing allows a more stable mounting to reduce vibration significantly. The new bearing also includes a double-lip FloBack seal to improve lubrication and provide additional protection against contamination to reduce maintenance.
Flat performance curve
The new fans integrate proprietary stainless steel props configured for peak air delivery at typical static pressures. “The performance curve is very flat with these fans,” explained Hog Slat’s ventilation director, Austin Baker. “The prop’s most efficient cfm ratings are delivered at standard house operating pressures of between .05 and .15″.
Low maintenance shutters
While the 54″ fan uses a plastic interior shutter, the 57″ model utilizes a poly butterfly damper with stainless steel hardware. An aluminum damper ring maintains stability while magnetic closures and dual springs seal the damper when the fan is not in use.
The “Farm Smart” design provides reduced maintenance and enhanced air delivery for swine and poultry producers.
For more information click on AirStorm
Not all turnkey contracts and turnkey builders are the same. Knowing what to ask the potential contractors bidding on your project helps you avoid additional costs when or if problems occur during construction.
1) Financial Strength.
A typical production site will cost from $350,000 upwards to $2,000,000 or more. For a project costing one million dollars, the builder will need to have the financial resources capable of paying for $500,000 of materials and labor. Also, most contractors will have several projects in varying stages of construction, meaning a typical builder may need a line of credit of several million dollars.
To protect your investment ask the contractor for a copy of their latest balance sheet to assess whether the contractor net worth is adequate for the project. If the builder is uncomfortable providing that type of information to you, require them to provide a payment and performance bond from a reputable insurer. Always consult your lender to determine if they are comfortable with the contractor’s financial condition.
2) Builders Risk and Workers’ Comp.
Unless required by the lender many contractors do not include builders risk insurance as part of their contract. Without this coverage, the owner is liable for any damages to the structure or building materials during the construction process.
The amount of Workers’ Compensation insurance a contractor is required to carry varies from state to state. The main provisions of this insurance should include coverage for any subcontractors working on the project, and this coverage is enforceable in the state where the work is performed. It is not uncommon for contractor or subcontractor’s policy to only apply to their home state.
You should insist any potential contractor provide you with a Certificate of Insurance indicating builders risk coverage for the amount of the contract along with general liability insurance of at least $2 million per occurrence and also listing the states covered by the agreement. You as the building owner may also want to be listed as an additional insured on the policy, so you have the ability to make claims on the policy if the contractor will not. Consider raising the general liability amount to $5-10 million on sow farms and remodel projects as substantial damage can result from work performed on operational farms.
3) Site Supervision
Adequate site supervision is subject to broad interpretation that varies by each contractor. Unless it is a complicated remodel or very large project, it is unreasonable to expect a job supervisor to be on site every day during the construction process. You should, however, expect the job supervisor to schedule frequent meetings with you to review and inspect the work in progress. Also be aware that many contracts do not provide for unloading trucks, dumpster rental, portable restrooms, and site cleanup. Failing to add these items in writing to the contract may cost you thousands in additional out of pocket costs.
4) Production Equipment
When faced with competitive bidding situations one of the methods used by contractors to reduce their price is to change the equipment supplied in the package. It is common for equipment manufacturers to offer special pricing to area builders during an expansion phase. This usually results in the poor installation of unfamiliar feeding, watering and ventilation equipment along with dubious warranty claims later. Ask the contractor to provide you with a list of completed projects with the same brands of equipment specified in the contract.
Protect your investment by requiring bidders on your project to provide you with the correct documentation. This allows you to limit your exposure to financial risk during and after the construction process.
Martha Stewart recently installed new Farmstead nests on her farm near Bedford, New York. The farm houses over 100 chickens in four individual coops. Here’s a short excerpt from the article:
I love knowing my hens are provided with clean, comfortable nests. Rolled metal edges prevent injury to the birds and easy to remove metal bottoms make it simple to keep the nests clean.
Read more about the project by clicking through to the blog: Martha…up close and personal.
For ordering information go to Farmstead Nests