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.
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.
Hog Slat’s newest feed drop hangs straight under the feed pipe to reduce twist. Available in two models; HSSD60C for mounting on Grow-Disk metal pipe or HSS55DC for model 55 PVC pipe.
The Center Drop is molded from UV stable polypropylene to prevent damage from sunlight and cold temperatures. An open-top design permits direct installation on feed pipe and a large access plug allows access to inside of the feeder. A plastic clip for record cards completes the exterior features.
The Center Drop features positive open/close shutoff.
Large adjustment dial permits single-hand regulation feed settings from one to eight pounds.
Nylon wheel reduces wear on lifter cord and the weighted ball securely seals bottom opening.
To order go to http://hogslat.com/hog-slat-center-drop-sow-feeder-8-lb
Hog Slat’s Drop Tube Assembly completes the installation to a metal pipe. Available in 2″ or 3″ models, the flared top reduces feed spillage and provides a flexible mount to sow drops.
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