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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
Stan Shrock fills a unique niche in the poultry industry as an independent pullet producer supplying independent layer customers.
Stan explained, “I have an arrangement to raise pullets for two local independent producers. I bring them in as one-day-old chicks and raise them until 16 weeks of age. I own the chickens and supply the feed with this arrangement. I also raise one flock a year for a producer from outside the state where he supplies the chicks and feed under contract.”
Stan’s construction background enabled him to act as his general contractor and build the 50’ x 320’ structure with local labor. The house will hold up to 25,000 pullets.
The Rotem house controller acts to integrate all of the building systems into a central station to monitor daily production inputs. Along with controlling and tracking the ventilation, heating, and water data the controller also automatically records bird weights and daily feed consumption.
Each bin leg has a load cell bracket attached and relays information to the digital summing box which feeds a display unit mounted inside the office. This display unit, in turn, is linked to the house controller which records and stores feed intake. Stan can easily monitor the flock’s daily feed consumption and note any problems that can affect production.
A hanging scale automatically weighs the birds as they mount the platform. Only 2 to 3 seconds are required for an accurate weight to register to the controller. Stan’s contract includes a bonus on weight uniformity based on the average recorded from the scale system.
The building contains an innovative approach to training pullets for their transition to the layer house. A section of slatted flooring is positioned under each water line. Gradually the water lines and flooring are raised to a height of 24” before the pullets go out. Stan’s layer customers report fewer floor eggs from pullets conditioned with this technique.
Unique anti-roost fixtures above the feeders prevent chicks from soiling the pan feeders but still allow the feed line to be used as a roost.
The building features a cross ventilation system with automatically adjusted wall inlets along one wall with light traps on the outside. The fan banks are located on the opposite wall. Stan explained the system; “We felt cross ventilation fit our production model better than tunnel ventilation. We saw excellent circulation patterns when we smoked the building. When the outside temperatures were 95° we stayed at 90° inside.”
The building is set up for half-house brooding with five 80,000 BTU, U-tube heaters supplying 400,000 BTU of heating capacity. Stan commented, “ The brooders do a great job of throwing heat to the outside walls, and we get even temperature across the brood area. Additional heat is supplied on the far end with three 40’ long, 100,000 tube heaters.”
Stan finished up by saying, “ The chicken business has been a nice addition to our farming operation. It fits in with our purebred cattle as we utilize the litter to fertilize the pastures. I am pleased with how the building performs. As a matter of fact, the only thing I would change is the office…I didn’t build it big enough!”
Hog Slat’s Romanian manufacturing operation, located in Arad, received ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications earlier this year. The audit and certification process was performed by SC MS-ISOROMCERTIFICATION SRL., a UKAS accredited auditing company.
Every process and business management procedure in the Romanian operation was compared to ISO 9001 requirements for quality management systems including; documentation control, record keeping, staff training, quality standards and operational conformance to the system. After implementation, continuous internal audits and an annual external audit will continue to monitor and improve operations.
Because of the ISO 9001 certification, Hog Slat’s European customers will see better quality products, improved scheduling and more reliable deliveries.
The ISO 14001 certification provides an Energy Management System to reduce waste and control energy costs.
In addition, the OHAS 18001 certification strives to create a safe work environment for employees and minimize production delays due to workplace injuries.
Congratulations to General Manager, Daniela Minda and the entire Romanian staff on achieving these certifications.