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.
Another successful show is in the books for Hog Slat at the 2015 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. This year, Hog Slat displayed several new items, including our AirStorm fiberglass ventilation fans, Grow-Disk™ chain disk feed system and the GrowerSELECT® curtain machine. In addition to these new products, we also featured our concrete slats, TriDek flooring, group pen feed stanchions, GrowerSELECT sow drops and more.
Hog Slat hosted a group of Chinese pig farmers that were visiting the United States and attended the World Pork Expo. On Tuesday, as part of their trip, we visited a brand new 2 barn finishing site Hog Slat just completed, located in Lohrville, IA. The group was able to see a new group of pigs that had just been loaded into one of the barns earlier that afternoon, and also examine the inside of the other barn that had not been loaded with pigs yet.
Both of these deep pit barns were equipped with GrowerSELECT Grow-Flex™ feed systems, Hog Slat wet/dry hog feeders and AquaChief cup waterers as part of their equipment package. The group was very impressed with the fit and finish of Hog Slat’s feed system equipment and building construction. To learn more about new construction or remodeling hog barns in the Midwest or other areas of the United States, please visit the Hog Slat sales representative locator, found here.
Take a quick video tour of a recently completed swine gestation building located near Hardy, IA. This 41′ X 133′ gestation building houses 260 animals.
The building features a GrowerSELECT® Evap system, GrowerSELECT flag feed system with individual Sow Drops, Hog Slat dry cast slats, Hog Slat gestation stalls and a tunnel ventilation system.
Download Hog Slat’s new handbook discussing group sow housing. The handbook highlights Hog Slat’s field experience in constructing and converting over 300,000 sow spaces to group housing with feeding stanchions.
The handbook begins by comparing merits of different systems available for group housing. Complete with illustrated pictures of equipment and diagrams of building layouts, this 16 page handbook contains practical details needed to build new sow housing or convert existing stalls to group housing.
Download your FREE
I was scrolling the web for information on sow housing and ran across this piece authored by John J. McGlone, PhD at Texas Tech University. Here are some highlights:
First mention of sow stalls was in 1807 in Baxter, England.
Lubbock Swine Breeders housed sows in stalls starting in 1964/1965. These stalls featured a sand area behind them.
To read the full article go to
I found it interesting reading. Hope you do too.