2017 archive

Absolutely the least exciting thing about raising pigs. 0

Maintenance. We all know it’s important but it’s not something anybody gets excited about doing.




When I started out in the business one of the old hands told me, “You don’t even need to see the records to know if a farm is meeting its production targets. If the grass is mowed, the interior is clean and the all the equipment is working they’re doing a good job raising the pigs.”


Every farm operation faces the challenge of having too many things to do and too few resources to do them. It’s easy to start using reactive maintenance (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it) compared to planned preventive maintenance that prevents costly breakdowns.   Good feeding, watering, and ventilation equipment certainly isn’t cheap and the better it’s cared for the longer it will last.




The new smartphone app, BarnRX reminds producers when it’s time to perform basic maintenance tasks. Available for either Apple or Android phones, the app comes preloaded with a monthly task list that can be checked as completed. In addition, the app allows an operator to add unique tasks to customize the maintenance list. Further customization is also possible by setting up multiple buildings.


BarnRX _2


The BarnRX app also contains an industry news feed, a listing of service techs on call, and a direct link to the Hog Slat website for ordering repair parts. The final feature is promotion section with cost-saving specials and mobile coupons only available with the BarnRX app.


To see more, watch a video, and download the app, go to www.barnrx.com

Step three, adjusting water pH 0

Part three of our series on treating swine drinking water.

Jesse McCoy, CWS, Business Unit Specialist, Water Treatment, Neogen Corp.



Following proper terminal line disinfection and water disinfection, the next step in a creating a beneficial water program is modifying the pH. For any animal to reach its full genetic potential, we must manage the water to achieve the correct pH level in its gut.


The pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; less than 7 is considered acidic and over 7 alkaline. Water pH is a major factor in determining the effectiveness of various water treatments.


Adjusting the pH into the acidic range benefits the animal’s GI tract by creating a detrimental environment for pathogenic biology. Other research points to improvements in nutritional impacts of feed at lower pH levels with organic (chemically organic – so containing carbon) acids. There may even be benefits we still don’t understand yet with pH reduction in livestock while realizing the benefits.


The available data reflect these benefits, regardless of their mode of action.



Terminal line disinfection in this research trial was achieved with a 3% solution of Peraside (peracetic acid 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 drinkers were triggered to ensure proper function before placing the pigs. Disinfection was achieved with 5ppm of MaxKlor (stabilized chlorine dioxide), and the pH was set to a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 using Dyne-O-Might (blended organic/mineral stabilized with iodine)




Water meters measured flow rates and triggered electric pumps for a precise chemical injection. This equipment ensured every gallon received the targeted treatment even with the small dosing requirements needed. Simple tests with a pH meter, at the drinkers, were used to show the pH level was maintained in the proper range.



By adding pH adjustment to a water treatment program, the animals can finally move from survival in the barns to thriving and reaching their genetic potential.



Modulating brooders are costing you money 0





Zone heating is an accepted management practice to provide supplemental heat in wean/finish buildings.   Many production systems utilize 17,000 Btu radiant gas brooders with modulating controls panels regulating the amount of heat emitted by the brooders.


While the modulating controllers are the most popular choice, initial lab tests suggested the Hi/Lo type control panels would yield significant fuel savings. A field test comparing the two systems was set up on a farm in Indiana.




The layout of the test setup is shown in Figure 1. The 40′ x 200′ test rooms were in the same building separated by a wall with 18 brooders installed in each room. The 17,100 Btu brooders were mounted three feet above the floor.   The Modulating Control thermostat sensor and High/Lo thermostat sensor are shown as T1 and T2, respectively. The Brooder temperature set point was 85°.


A gas furnace provided auxiliary heat for each room with its thermostat location indicated by the T in Figure 1.   The outdoor temperature was measured using a thermocouple as shown as T3. All sensors were four feet above the floor level. A gas meter was mounted in each room to record the fuel consumption of the corresponding control system.




Figure 2 shows the results of the field test with a 20.7% fuel savings for the Hi/ Lo regulated brooders.



Why did these savings occur?

At high demand, the gas consumption is the same for both control panels at the maximum input.

At low demand, the gas consumption is the same for both control panels at the minimum input.


The savings occur between the two extremes. It is more cost-effective for the brooder to switch between high and low than to maintain the temperature with the less efficient pressure settings in between.


 What about temperature swings under the brooder?

The internal temperature of the brooders only varies by two degrees. This temperature variant is in the brooder and is reflected not on the temperature recorded on the floor below.




Also, a style Hi/Lo panel is easier to integrate into a whole house environmental control system. The Hi/Lo input ties directly into the computer protocol instead of the separate low-tech sensor used with a modulation control.

For more information go to Gro17000 brooder.





Understanding bait rotation key to rodent control 0




Many producers assume that switching to a different brand name of rodenticide provides a different active ingredient. However, that is not always the case. This article gives an understanding of what to look for and why rotating active ingredients is an important step to your biosecurity rodenticide rotation.


Liphatech Soft Bait Sachets 770x400


Knocking down a rodent population can be a difficult, but very important process. This is where a highly palatable rodenticide comes into play. The active ingredient Difethialone is powerful enough to be formulated into rodenticides at half the dose (0.0025%) of its rotation partners. Products containing Difethialone are very palatable. Difethialone is a second-generation anticoagulant active ingredient, commonly referred to as a blood thinner, and kills rodents within 4-5 days after a single nights feeding. Anticoagulants prevent or reduce the coagulation of blood, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding. These delayed effects mean that rodents may return to consume more bait, due to the symptoms not taking place immediately. The cornerstone of an effective rodent control program should start with rodenticides containing Difethialone for six months, which when used and consumed consistently, will control multiple levels of the social hierarchy within your rodent population. Difethialone is available in a soft bait (FastDraw), block, or pellet (Hombre) formulation.


After using Difethialone for six months and seeing a reduction in dead rodents or signs of activity, rotate to a product containing Bromadiolone. Bromadiolone is also a second-generation anticoagulant active ingredient typically formulated at 0.005% and is available in soft bait (Revolver), blocks, or pellets (BootHill). Bromadiolone is a great rotation partner to keep rodents at a manageable level, and the paraffinized pellets are labeled for burrow baiting to allow flexibility when controlling Norway rats. This rodenticide also provides a different flavor profile, for rodents with flavor preferences that may not have been attracted to other rodenticide brands. Bromadiolone is recommended for four months and kills rodents within 4 to 5 days after consuming a lethal dose.


Cannon 770x400


When rotating from Bromadiolone, use a rodenticide containing Bromethalin for two months or during depopulation periods. Bromethalin is an acute toxicant that causes damage to the central nervous system and controls both mice and rats in as little as 48 hours after a single night’s feeding. This rapid kill is necessary when you need to effectively eliminate rodent populations during short depopulation periods, before introducing a new flock or group into the building. Due to the rapid onset of symptoms, rodents typically cease feeding after consuming a lethal dose, which may, in turn, save you money from over-consumption. Using bromethalin also breaks the anticoagulant cycle in your biosecurity rodent control program, which is critical to ensure your rodent population does not become resistant to anticoagulant rodenticides. Bromethalin is available in a soft bait (Cannon) or block (Gunslinger) formulation.




Following a rotation such as will ensure you are using a variety of active ingredients. In times of uncertainty, the package label will state the active ingredient. As always, users should read and follow all label directions.

To order go to Rat Bait 



Winter Ventilation for Homestead Livestock Buildings 0

Most small-scale producers utilize natural ventilation during warm weather. As the weather cools, regulating the environment inside livestock and poultry buildings becomes more difficult with manually operated vent doors. Adding small ventilation fan(s) simplifies the task of maintaining a healthy environment for the animals.


The first step is to determine the minimum and mild winter rates for the amount of the animals housed. Table 1 displays a chart with recommended ventilation rates taken from an older university manual.



Minimum rates are the recommended ventilation in cfm (cubic feet per minute) needed to control moisture and prevent condensation from forming on interior surfaces. The additional mild winter airflow stops rising temperatures inside the building as the outside temperature increases.


For our example, we’ll use a 24′ x 30′ farrowing house with ten crates.


10 sows/litters x 20 cfm = 200 cfm   minimum rate

10 sows/litters x 80 cfm = 800 cfm   mild winter rate


As a fan operates, it creates a static pressure difference between the inside and outside of the building measured in water column inches. Pick an exhausted fan for this application according to its stated cfm deliveries at .05″ static pressure. (See Farmstead Fans)





From the list of fans shown in Table 2, the 12″ fan is rated at 880 cfms.   This cfm rating matches up closely with the mild winter rate in our example.   We have two options that will enable us to reduce the cfm delivery down to the minimum rate of 200 cfm.


We can use an inexpensive variable speed controller to slow the speed of the fan. (see #NE105F) But be aware that a reduction in fan speed does not directly mean the same reduction in cfms. In other words, reducing the fan speed by 50% does not reduce air delivery by 50%.   Turning a fan down too slow can also cause the motor to overheat.


A more accurate method of reducing the amount of air exhausted is using a cycle timer. (see HST001) In the example above we would set the on cycle for one minute and off cycle for four minutes.


20 cfm x 10 sows = 200 cfm

200 cfm/ 880 fan cfm = 0.227 x 300 sec (Total Cycle Time) = 68 sec ON or 1 minute


The additional advantage of using a timer is it allows more flexibility for changing animal density. For instance, if our example farrowing barn was half full we could reduce the on cycle to one minute. If we chose to wean the pigs in the crates and leave them there until they weigh 40 lbs., we would be able to increase the on time to two minutes.


120 pigs x 3 cfm = 360 cfms

360 cfm / 880 cfm = 0.409 x 300 sec (Total Timer Cycle ) = 123 sec ON or 2 minutes



Either the speed control or timer can be wired in parallel with a single stage thermostat to override the low setting. As the temperature rises inside the building, the thermostat takes over and runs the fan at full speed. If the inside temperature goes down with the fan running on high the thermostat drops out, and timer takes over, and the building returns to minimum ventilation.


Operating the minimum ventilation during cold weather will mean adding supplemental heat to maintain a comfortable temperature for the animals. Turning the fan down to prevent the heater from running will create damp, smelly air inside the barn.   Table 3 lists the likely supplemental heat requirements per animal. These rates assume adequate insulation in the walls and ceiling and minimum air leaks.




Using our example barn again


20 sows/litters x 3000 Btu = 60,000 Btu heater


120 nursery pigs x 350 = 42,000 Btu heater.


Also, you will need to provide air intakes matched to the total ventilation capacity of the fans. A simple gravity activated sidewall inlet (see #HSI200) is the best choice for most situations. Inexpensive and easy to install, this simple plastic inlet automatically opens allowing airflow when the fan(s) operate. When the timer shuts the fan off, the plastic louver closes.


Inlets installed in an outside wall require a weather hood to protect against strong winds forcing the louver open.   See Weather Hood diagram below. Inlets are typically located opposite the fan(s) to pull air across the building.



Each inlet is rated at 430 cfm. To determine the number of inlets needed divide the total cfm by 430. Using our example


880 cfm/ 430 = 2.04 or 2 inlets needed.


We provided this short article as a guide to adding wintertime ventilation to an existing building. Your individual building will vary by location, the condition of the structure and other factors. For a detailed calculation of the ventilation equipment needed for particular building, please contact us at web.info@hogslat.com.