With the majority of U.S. pigs finished in confinement style facilities, a 12-pound weaned pig will spend at least four months on slatted concrete floors. As the industry moves from gestation stalls to group housing designs, slat quality becomes an important factor. Rather than being confined to a small slatted area, sow movement over an entire slatted pen subjects them potential injury from defective flooring design.
Good concrete slat design, construction, and maintenance can minimize foot and leg problems associated with swine production.
The most critical feature in slat design is producing slats with a flat top surface. Slats with uneven and inconsistent surface place additional stress on pig’s feet and joints.
Many methods used for producing concrete slats consist of placing wet cast concrete into multiple steel forms and hand troweling to finish. It is harder to build slats with a consistently flat surface by hand finishing methods.
Machined slats are produced with a different process that eliminates the uneven surface found on hand cast slats. Automated Rotoscreeds “strike off” the mold creating a level, uniformly flat top that is easier for pigs to move across.
Slat longevity is an important consideration as worn or damaged areas create uneven surfaces that can injure pigs. Slats built using concrete with a low water-to-cement ratio are longer lasting and more resistant to wear.
The water-cement ratio refers to the ratio of the water weight to the cement weight used in a concrete mix. A lower ratio leads to higher strength and durability but makes the mix difficult to work with and form. For this reason, most slats are produced with wet cast concrete using a water-cement ratio of 0.5. Machined slats are manufactured from dry cast concrete with a water-cement ratio of less than .39.
A cubic yard of wet cast concrete formulated with 500 pounds of cement contains 250 pounds of water, while a dry cast mix only contains 195 pounds. As the excess water leaves during the curing process, it creates microscopic pores that reduce the final strength of a slat. Compromised slat strength can lead to many problems down the road, including expensive repairs, equipment damage and injury to pigs and farm personnel.
Maintaining surfaces and edges of slats, as they wear over time, is essential in providing pigs with a comfortable flooring surface. Areas around waterers and feeders are the first to show significant damage. When the need arises for concrete slat repair, choose a repair mortar designed for slat repair versus generic concrete repair products. Mortars designed for slat repairs feature cement and epoxy formulations with higher cure strengths and faster cure times. The amount of damage will determine the type of repair product needed. For simple repairs, less than 1/4″ in depth, a cost effective cement mortar can be used. More severe corrosion requires the use of epoxy mortars to hold the repair patch in place. Hog Slat offers a complete range of concrete repair products from Vanberg Specialized Coatings that can be used to repair worn and damaged slats with minimal downtime. For more information on slat repairs see the DIY video at http://www.hogslat.com/con-korite-xtra-mortar-kit.
Choosing concrete slats with a level surface and uniform openings provide growing pigs and group housed sows with secure footing to minimize foot and joint injuries.
To learn more about Hog Slat’s machine produced slats go to http://www.hogslat.com/concrete-slats.
Having the right tool makes any maintenance chore easier and Hog Slat’s Pen Vise is the perfect tool for cleaning clogged brooder and heater orifices.
Instead of looking for a piece of wire or a drill bit close to the right size, the Pen Vise keeps tapered cleaning needles at your fingertips. This tool features a screw-tightened jaw on one end with a 12-needle storage compartment on the opposite. An additional benefit; you’re not as likely to lose the five-inch long Pen Vise if you happen to drop it into the liter.
Dan Yates, the hands and voice in the video, has used the same Pen Vise for over five years. He offered these suggestions,“The needles taper down to a smaller size than we need for our applications. If you clip about 1/2″ off the end with a side cutter, you won’t bend the end like I did in the video.” “A needle is just a better tool than a drill bit for cleaning heater orifices. Repeated use of a drill bit can enlarge the hole causing a weak, yellow flame with poor combustion.”
Click here to order your Pen Vise today.
Most producers have a checklist for basic equipment repairs between groups to prevent costly and time-consuming problems later. One commonly overlooked item is the feed delivery system. Whether you choose to have the auger inspected by a service crew or do the work yourself, the following is a checklist of essential feed system maintenance items for producers to consider.
Remove the Feed
The most important and basic procedure for auger maintenance is to empty all the feed from the system. Feed left in the auger tube will draw moisture and cause the auger flighting to rust.
Upper and Lower Boots
The metal lower boots should be visually inspected for worn or rusted areas, bent slide gates and damaged access covers. GrowerSELECT® components can be used to replace individual items including body weldments for all flexible auger sizes. Go to GrowerSELECT Unloader Components.
Grower Select clear upper boots can replace existing solid boots so potential problems with feed delivery are easier to spot. Injected from impact-resistant transparent polycarbonate, GrowerSELECT boots will fit any 16” bin opening and are available in 30° or straight models. Go to GrowerSELECT Clear Boots
Auger bearings are a high wear item and should be checked whenever they are squealing or rattling. To inspect the anchor bearing, loosen the U-bolts holding the bearing, pull the bearing out from the tube and clamp a vise grip on the auger to hold it in place. Inspect the anchor bearing for visible wear and excess play. If the bearing needs to be replaced, select a GrowerSELECT anchor bearing that matches the size and brand of your system. Go to GrowerSELECT Anchor Bearings
Auger that is more than ten years old or installed with multiple turns should be examined for wear. Examine the auger to look for sharp edges concentrating on the elbow areas. Also check the distance between the flighting making sure this distance has not been compacted or stretched. To remove the auger for inspection; detach the anchor bearing from the auger and allow the auger to retract inside the tube. Go up to the drive unit and open the inspection plate on the control unit. Loosen the hex head bolt on the clamp holding the auger to the tube anchor. Holding the auger solid, rotate the anchor counterclockwise until the auger is free. Go back to the boot area and pull the auger out the back end of the system.
There are several options for repair.
A) Replace the entire auger.
B) Cut out and replace only the worn section.
C) Turn the auger end for end and replace. This will place the worn section of auger in a straight section of the tube instead of in an elbow section.
Grow-Flex™ auger is available custom lengths that are cut to order. Go to Grow-Flex™ Auger
Many (most?) 10-year auger systems have duct tape over small holes in the tube where the auger enters the barn. Now is the time to replace the high wearing elbow sections while the auger is removed from the system.
Gear Head Oil
The oil in auger gear heads should be completely replaced every two years. Remove the bottom and side plugs allowing the oil to drain out of the gear head. Replace the bottom plug and refill with oil until it reaches the level of the side plug. Replace side oil plug. GrowerSELECT Gear Oil is specialty 80W-90 oil designed for use in any existing auger gear head. Purchase GrowerSELECT Gear Oil here.
It is also a good time for a visual inspection of the pinion gear connecting the motor shaft to the gear head. The teeth of the pinion should be sharply cut; pinions with rounded teeth should be replaced. There is a GrowerSELECT replacement pinion gear for most existing auger systems….Go to GrowerSELECT Pinion Gears
Feed Level Controls
Faulty feed controls can cause feed outages or wastage when they malfunction. There are many options of GrowerSELECT feed level controls available for replacements. The HS529 is a direct replacement for feed level controls mounted in the feeders. The Proxy Plus (HS10) and the Proxy Classic (HS09) are GrowerSELECT replacements for existing proximity switches.
This may also be a great time to consider a complete change in feed control switches. The Grower Select Drop Tube Control Switch (HSDTC01) is an excellent option for controlling the feed system. This type of switch removes the electrical components from inside the feeders helping minimize switch failure due to electrical problems.
Older feed bins may have rusted areas or even pinholes in the exterior metal sheets. An excellent product to restore these areas and extend the bin’s useful life is AMC100L; an aluminum based coating that provides corrosion and weather protection. It is available in DIY kit form containing 1 quart of AMC100L, 1 pint of rust remover and 4 pieces of seam tape. This starter kit will cover 200-300 sq ft. Purchase the AMC100L-K kit here.
Producers have also upgraded feed bins with a simple feed level indicator called the Bin Flag. This low-cost device (just over $100) allows operators to check bin feed levels without climbing. No wiring is required for operation and the installation is all done from the outside. The Bin Flag can also be connected to building alarm system for dialer notification of feed outages. Go to Bin Flag.
Contact a local Hog Slat store (see store listings) or go to http://www.hogslat.com/feeding-systems-components to order feed system repair items. Hog Slat stores also have service crews available for on-farm repairs and inspections.
Today’s livestock and poultry operations rely on electric motors for a variety of feeding and ventilation functions. Used in buildings that can be both dusty and humid, with fluctuations in voltage and varying workloads we subject our motors to a very hostile work environment.
When selecting replacement motors, it is important to select motors that are both efficient and designed with a “safety factor” that will allow them to last under harsh conditions.
While you may be familiar with the term Service Factor or S.F., there are a couple of important designations found on a motor nameplate that may need more clarification.
Service Factor is defined as a motor’s ability to operate under a short-term load. The higher a motor’s S.F. rating, the more durable the motor. Motors with high S.F. are expected to last longer. To illustrate, a 1-1/2 Hp motor with a 1.5 S.F. can provide 2.25 Hp for short-term use. However, it is not a good practice to continuously operate a motor above the rated workload. In other words, the same 1-1/2 Hp motor with 1.5 SF would not be selected to power a 60″ fan originally shipped with a 2 Hp motor.
Full Load Amps or F.L.A. represents the amount of current the motor is designed to draw at the rated horsepower. In the example nameplate, this means that when the motor is running under a full load at 230 volts, we can expect it to draw 5.4 amps. Motors with a lower F.L.A. for the amount of horsepower are considered more efficient to operate.
Service Factor Amps or S.F.A. represents the amount of current the motor will draw when running at the full Service Factor. In the example nameplate, the S.F.A. is eight amps at 230 volts.
Continually exceeding the S.F.A. shown on the nameplate can shorten motor life. Motors with a higher S.F.A. for the same horsepower have an increased “safety factor” and are expected to last longer under harsh conditions.
The most efficient, rugged motors are designed with a higher S.F., lower F.L.A., and higher S.F.A ratings. By comparing the information on a motor nameplate, we can select the best replacement motors for feeding and ventilation equipment.
Hog Slat designed the GrowerSELECT line of motors to help simplify a producer’s decision on selecting replacement motors. GrowerSELECT motors feature a high Service Factor (as high as 1.5) and higher S.F.A. rating to increase motor life. Each model number is a direct cross to the most popular brands of feed systems and fans used on producers’ farms. No matter what your existing brand of equipment we have a GrowerSELECT motor designed to replace it and save money while doing so. Shop GrowerSELECT motors.
Sometimes we just forget about a good tool or product. New things come along or we focus on different items. That is what happened with this great little bait station from JT Eaton.
The official name from JT Eaton is the Top Loader Bait Station. We have always referred to it as “that T-Bait Station”. It is not new…..just maybe a little forgotten.
It is the most versatile bait station a producer can deploy against mice and rats. It will fit almost anywhere….on top of fences, against walls, up in the rafters, strap it to a fence…..and my favorite, strapped with nylon ties to the feed line pipes going into a poultry or swine house.
It comes with two tabs on the bottom making it easy to screw the station down to wood; like the top of fences, rafters, walls, etc. One idea that we saw recently was to mount a station to a short length of 2 x 6. This producer was able to place this “improved station” on top of the rock along the building. He liked this much better than using a rod driven into the soil. He does not have to pull the rod up to shake out debris and old bait.
It also has two mounting brackets that are excellent for holding down the T station with nylon tie or wire. Wrap a nylon tie around the top to hold it against a fence.
It is easy to load, remove the top and find a bat-holding rod attached below it. Remove the wing nut on the bottom and up to five bait blocks will fit on the rod. These hang down and as the bottom block is chewed away, another slides down to take its place. (Shop Hog Slat for Mice/Rat Baits)
Rodents readily go into the station because they can see through from either end. They can clearly see the bait hanging down and an escape route beyond it.
The Top Loader Station measures 11-1/2” high x 15-1/4” long and only 3” wide. It is an effective way to place rodenticides in any operation.