The size of individual sow farms continues to increase; just a few years ago 2,400 head units were considered large, but new sow farms under construction this year range between 5,000 to 14,000 head in size.
Designing the central production facility into two or three larger buildings has many advantages including smaller land requirements, less underground utilities to bring to the site, shorter roadways to build and maintain, fewer walkways between buildings and less linear footage of exterior building walls.
Because of increased pig capacities and the desire to minimize the number of buildings, it was necessary to increase the buildings widths up to 190 feet. Instead of the 4/12-pitch roof used on standard farm buildings, these jumbo-wide facilities utilize a two-piece rafter with a 1/12-pitch roof line resting on a center support wall in the middle. Almost 6 feet high at the heel with a center height of 13 feet, the rafters are designed more like a large floor joist. The outside appearance resembles a steel frame building more than conventional wood framed structures.
Totally slatted flooring is a common feature of newly constructed B&G buildings. While past layouts consisted of a solid laying area with slat sections in the rear of the pen or stall only, new construction plans incorporate slats over the entire floor with stainless feeding troughs fastened in place. This arrangement allows long-term flexibility to reconfigure the pen layout in the future if needed.
Group housing with stanchions is the predominant type of housing under construction this year. Largely through trial and error, the industry seems to have settled into pen configurations containing eight to twelve sows. This pen size permits closer grouping by size and condition and promotes easier visual inspection.
Whether the production system chooses gestation stalls, stanchions, or ESF, most equipment is specified with hot-dipped galvanized equipment instead of painted finish. The extended equipment life provided by the galvanized finish makes this an economical business decision.
One advantage reported with stanchion systems is longer equipment life resulting from moving the water away from the front of the stanchions. Locating a cup or swinging water pipe with nipples in the center of the pen reduces the deterioration of feed pipes and stall fronts by minimizing water contact with these areas.
Jumbo style layouts permit designing a double farrowing building with an extra wide 8-foot center alleyway to aid in animal and people movement between rooms.
Almost every new construction project increases the length and width of the farrowing crates and creep area from the standard 5′ x 7′ footprint up to 6’ wide by 8′ long, with some systems choosing 8’6″ long crates. Longer framed sows and reduced piglet crushing rates from using wider pens have driven this trend. Again, the equipment will have a galvanized finish with a combination of cast iron, TriDek, or plastic slats for flooring choices.
Most production systems will incorporate some provision for ad-lib sow feeding. Besides reducing farm labor, ad-lib sow feeding is the most efficient method for feeding individual sows to reach full milk production potential. The type of systems can range from electronic transponder metering devices to sow activated hopper type feed dispensers.
Projects of this size require builders with an expanded skill set. A builder must be able to provide professional project management, understanding of regulatory issues, and increased insurance coverage. It is also critical for any construction firm undertaking projects of this size to have sufficient financial backing and the ability to manage large cash flows.
For more information about Hog Slat’s construction projects and swine production equipment offerings, contact your nearest sales representative by clicking here.
Here’s another selection from the 1960 edition of The Yearbook of Agriculture on the latest trends in farrowing.
Caption in yearbook:
In this minimum-stress pen, the shape of the guardrail encourages the sow to lie with the teats toward the pigs. The pigs stay where it’s warm – under the heat lamp and behind the guard.
How about this for Ad Lib feeding? An overhead auger delivers feed to the farrowing pens. No carts or scoops are needed.
And finally, double-decker farrowing crates! I saw one of these set up in Red Oak, Iowa years ago.
From the yearbook:
Hogs in double-deck, all steel, cage-type farrowing stalls. The pigs are transferred after weaning. Manure is removed by mechanical drags.
Hog Slat manufactures a complete line of farrowing equipment for new construction or remodeling an existing facility. Our SowMAX ad lib dispenser feeds lactating sows 24/7 while reducing farm labor. See more at www.hogslat.com or call 800-949-4647.
Sow and Piglet Performance during Lactation for SowMAX Self Feeders and Hand Feeding
A synopsis of research study conducted at North Carolina State University.
The main objective of this study was to collect lactation and rebreeding data from sows fed with SowMAX self feeders opposed to sows that were hand fed. The secondary objective was to measure the amount of labor required to manage the sows using each type of feeding system, specifically during lactation. Two farrowing rooms were observed in this study. One-half of the farrowing crates in each room were retrofitted with SowMAX feeders. Farrowing occurs every other week at the Swine Educational Unit (n=24 sows per group). At the present time, data has been collected from 36 sows utilizing SowMAX feeders and34 sows that were hand fed.There were significant interactions between season (winter versus summer) and feeding strategy (SowMAX versus hand feeding) for both sow and piglet performance and sows’ daily feed intake patterns. Consequently, the data is presented seasonally. Sow and piglet performance during lactation is shown in Tables 1 and 2, while sow daily feed intake patterns are shown in Figure 1 and 2. Tables 3 and 4 contain sow rebreeding performance and baby piglet death losses, respectively. (see complete article online including tables) There were no significant interactions between seasons and feeding strategy for this data, therefore the means in these tables were averaged across seasons.
Total feed intake and daily feed intake appear to be superior for sows being fed with the SowMAX feeders. This was particularly true during the summer months.
The data in all the Tables are the mean values and the standard errors. The last column in each table is the p value, which is a measure of how different the means is statistically. In a general sense, the p value can be thought of in the following manner. If the experiment was repeated 1000 times, then one would expect the same result as indicated by the p value due to chance. For example, in Table 1 the p-value for total feed intake is 0.043. Sows fed with the SowMAX feeders consumed 17.2 lbs. more feed during lactation compared with those fed by hand. What this means is that there is less than 5% chance that this difference is simply due to chance and random events and a 95% chance that it is due to the SowMAX feeder. Conversely, the body weight of sows after farrowing has a p value of 0.671. What this means is that there is more than 50% chance that the differences observed are, in fact, due to chance or random events and not related to the way they were fed (SowMAX versus Hand Feeding). The p values in bold are those that are less than 0.05 that is considered to be highly significant in the scientific literature. In other words, there is a 95% probability that the current difference is due to the feeding system. The p values in bold italics are ones with p values between 0.05 and 0.20. These are considered important trends in scientific literature. Usually what happens with trends is that as more data is collected (more observations) then their p values move closer to 0.05.
In general, both total feed intake and daily feed intake appear to be superior for sows being fed with the SowMAX feeders. This was predominantly true during the summer months. Daily sow feed intake was consistently greater during the summer with the SowMAX feeders after the first week of lactation compared to hand feeding. This was also true during the winter months due to a more consistent feed intake pattern over the entire lactation period, with less variation from day to day. During the summer, sows had a similar pattern of daily feed intake with both feeding systems. However, sows in farrowing crates with a SowMAX feeder simply ate more. In contrast, during the winter the increase in feed intake for sows with the SowMAX feeder was due mainly to the lack of several transient periods of decreased feed intake which were prevalent when sows were fed. In this study, there was less feed wastage on a dry matter basis with the SowMAX feeders. Additionally, SowMAX feeders required less labor and maintenance (cleaning) by employees that fed the sows, especially during the summer months when sow water consumption is high.
The increased feed intake during lactation resulted in better pre-weaning weight gain by the piglets. There were no differences in piglet mortality or rebreeding performance between treatments. A rather interesting observation was the lower body temperature during the last week in lactation of the sows utilizing the SowMAX feeders. This was even more prominent during the summer months and most likely is the factor responsible for the increased daily feed intake in these sows. This is most likely due to them being able to regulate their feed intake during the day. It has been shown that after consumption of a single large mealthe core body temperature increases, compared to intake of the same amount that is distributed evenly over a longer period of time. It appears the sows actually do regulate their feed intake, at least in part, based on the temperature of the ambient environment.
To obtain a copy of the full report contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hog Slat’s introduction of the Poly Lamp improves several features of plastic heat lamp shades used in swine farrowing houses. Plastic heat lamp shades have become popular since being introduced several years ago. Polypropylene shades don’t dent or corrode like aluminum shades. Plastic shades also have a some cushion or “bounce” when knocked against the crate or creep panels reducing bulb breakage.
The Hog Slat’s Poly Lamp improves several key features of the plastic heat lamp, most notably to the nylon fixture.
First, the nylon fixture screws together on the shade top, instead bolting. The two-piece fixture reduces breakage occurring with the bolt-on style of earlier models.
Second, we use a rigid fixture instead the flexible type used on other poly lamps. The rigid design eliminates cord twist when replacing bulbs.
And third, the porcelain socket resists heat damage better than plastic types.
The Poly Lamp comes with a choice of hanging options; adjustable sliding poly hanger on the 9′ cord or a wire hanger mounted on fixture top.
Rated a maximum 250 watts at 120 volts, the Poly Lamp is UL listed. The Poly Lamp also comes with an extended Three-Year Warranty.
Overall the Poly Lamp is an improved version of earlier plastic lamp shades at very attractive price. For ordering information go to http://hogslat.com/hog-slat-poly-heat-lamp
Located in McLeansboro, IL, L&L Farms began their hog farming operation in 1994 raising 400 sows. Since then, Jeff and his family along with the help of quality employees have grown their breed to wean operation to 4,000 sows housed in 2 locations. We spoke with owner, Jeff Lueke:
I really felt like we were gaining efficiencies in the farrowing department. We saw how it could provide advantages to our employees, allowing them to be more efficient and manage more sows. Within our operation we also set target goals. These goals consisted of narrowing down the wean to first service interval, drive a heavier pig out the door at weaning, and increase lactation length leading to subsequent larger litter sizes for pigs. In our management plan, we felt that these two products, SowMAX and Grow-Disk, would be a big help to reach our target goals by getting more feed to the sows.
How many Grow-Disk™ systems have you installed?
3. All have been installed into our farrowing barns, but I would not hesitate to install them into any application.
How do you use Grow-Disk™ to feed the sows?
We combine the Grow-Disk with the SowMAX. We feel that the combination of these products delivers a very good program. We basically want the sows to have access to full feed. Between these two products we feel that we can deliver that to our sows very efficiently. The system still gives us flexibility to limit feed intake because we include the Sow Drop. The Sow Drop allows us to limit feed intake if we want to, whether it is in early lactation, pre-farrowing, or for the first three days post-farrowing. In post-farrowing we schedule to feed five times throughout the day, in pre-farrowing we schedule to feed twice a day.
How have the Grow-Disk™ systems performed for you? What benefits have you seen?
I have no complaints; I do believe that we are getting more daily feed intake from our sows with the system. The system is hands-off, requiring less labor to feed. With this automatic feeding we are able to keep feed available, and produce less wastage.
Why did you choose Grow-Disk™ instead of a flexible auger system for your project?
My local sales contact, Carl Herrmann, shared with me some of the advantages that Grow-Disk can offer. Knowing that it was a new product, and knowing that I’ve had success with Hog Slat products in the past, it made me anxious to try it. I think its heavy duty, reliable, and I have not been disappointed.
Switching gears, tell us about your routine feeding with SowMAX.
The system that we set up is basically designed to keep feed available for the sow to access at all times, but not have so much feed supply that if there was a malfunction we would have a pit full of feed. The system allows us to make that work. At most any time there’s 12-20 lbs. of feed available to the sow. If that particular sow wants to get up at 6 a.m. and eat 15 pounds of feed, it’s there. If a sow wants to eat five small meals throughout the day she has the opportunity to do that as well. I think that we forget that hogs are somewhat individuals like people, and may all have a little different idea of how they want to eat. In the past when we fed with a scoop and cart, the sows got trained to jump up and eat whenever it was time to feed. Even if a litter of piglets just started nursing, the sow still jumped up to eat. The sows are much more content and apt to eat at their convenience than they are when you decide when it’s time to feed. For daily management of the SowMAX, we clean and make necessary adjustments to the feeders twice a day. We have been able to keep SowMAX feeders cleaner compared to other systems. The feeders are simple and easy to utilize and maintain.
What advantages have you noticed with SowMAX over how you fed sows in the past?
We have been able to accomplish our management goals by incorporating SowMAX into our operation. I do believe we have raised heavier pigs. We have noticed that SowMAX wastes less feed and requires less maintenance compared to a solid tube. Having the ability to keep fresh feed in front of the sow all day has been a great benefit.
Do you use any other Hog Slat equipment?
We incorporate Hog Slat’s concrete slats, penning, boar carts, Sow Drops, farrowing crates, and Tridek flooring, among others into our operation. I’ve found this equipment to meet my standards for over 20 years.
Do you have any suggestions for other hog farmers looking into the GrowerSELECT® product line?
It’s a viable program that should be looked at. I think it is cost efficient for the performance. It would be an asset to any building project.