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Blog posts of '2015' 'May'

Extended Anchor Bearing Solves Tandem Bin Auger Overload

As livestock and poultry housing became larger and we developed more sophisticated feeding methods, the use of multiple bins in tandem was more common.  While this set-up allowed for greater flexibility in feeding, the front bin of the pair was often prone to plugging.

If we look at the anchor bearing that is present in the rear bin, one would notice that it has a restrictor tube over the shaft.  This restrictor tube fills the core of a flexible auger and prevents feed from filling the core and overloading an auger. This restrictor is not present in the front bin.  When the slide is opened feed overloads the system faster than the auger will move it away.  The obvious solution is to cut the opening down by closing off the slide to restrict feed flow.  This can cause other problems as a feed flows tends to flow only down one side of the bin.  A better solution is to use baffles in the boot to restrict feed flow.  This works to prevent plugging but can cause feed bridging in the bin.




Over the last several years Hog Slat developed and tested a unique solution to this problem.  The final product is called the Extended Anchor Bearing.



Described simply, the Extended Anchor Bearing extends the rear tube restrictor to the front bin.  The auger core is filled in and feed cannot overfill the system.

The Extended Anchor Bearing ships complete with a 14’ restrictor tube, replacement bearing and fastening hardware.  The 14’ restrictor tube is cut to length and inserted it the auger core.  The new bearing is installed and the auger reattached.

If an extended anchor bearing would help you prevent auger overload, visit the Hog Slat website to find the model that fits your flexible auger fill system.

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Poultry Lighting- Advantages of LED Bulbs

1. Incandescent bulbs are being phased out by numerous countries (US included) making it now illegal to manufacture many incandescent bulbs leaving only those bulbs still in supply to sell. Usually the higher the wattage the more expensive and more difficult the bulb is to find now with the new laws in effect. LED bulbs do not face this issue and benefit from newer technology that is developing each year.

2. Incandescent bulbs are not efficient at all in terms of converting energy for just light production. Most of the energy is released as heat and not as light thus making them very inefficient. In contrast, LED bulbs convert nearly all their energy to light production and are very efficient. For example a 40 watt incandescent produces roughly 400 Lumens which is a little less than the average 8 watt LED bulb that produces about 450 Lumens. This fact alone makes it easy to see how LED bulbs can pay you back in energy savings over time, by giving you the same Lumens (light output) for much less electrical usage.

3. Incandescent bulbs have a typical lifespan of about 2,000 hours or less, CFL and Cold Cathode bulbs around 10,000 hours, and LED’s can have a lifespan over 25,000 hours. This means less time and labor required to change bulbs by switching to LED bulbs.

4. LED bulbs don’t lose their intensity like Cold Cathode does. Some research shows that after time Cold Cathode bulbs lose light intensity the older they get.

5. Our LED bulbs are fully dimmable and can be dimmed as low as 1%. They do not have issues like CFL bulbs do when dimming at lower levels and work on nearly all dimmers.

6. LED bulb warranties are longer. Most agricultural rated LED’s have a minimum of a 3 year warranty and some go as high as 5. Incandescent bulbs do not have a warranty and CFL and Cold Cathode bulbs usually only have a 1 year warranty.

7. Not all LED bulbs are alike. Do not confuse Agricultural rated LED bulbs and residential LED bulbs. They are not the same, and do not dim the same and thus do not perform the same. They may be more attractive due to their lower price, but they will not hold up in your poultry house like the agricultural rated LED’s will.

8. Some electrical companies, co-ops, and federal grants offer rebates or cost share programs that may be available in your area. Contact your local USDA Rural Development office to inquire about the REAP program or ask your electricity supplier for any rebates they may offer

9. By changing out incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs some have shown a payback as quickly as a few flocks, and if you are changing from CFL or Cold Cathode bulbs the payback can be around 1 to 2 years depending on your lighting program and setup. Regardless, know that by changing to LED you are cutting your energy usage, putting money back in your pocket, having a more durable and longer lasting bulb, and a bulb with a better warranty. Take the next step and invest in LED bulbs today!

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History of Sow Housing

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, click the link below:

The Crate (stall, case,cage, box, etc): Its History and Efficacy – John J. McGlone, PhD

I found it to be interesting reading and hope you do too.

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Feed System Checklist for Hog & Poultry Buildings

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

Anchor Bearings
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

Flexible Auger
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.

Pinion Gears
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.

Feed Bins
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 order feed system repair items. Hog Slat stores also have service crews available for on-farm repairs and inspections.

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3D Printer Shapes Livestock and Poultry Equipment

One of the newest tools utilized by Hog Slat’s engineering group is a 3D printer.  About the size of a small refrigerator, the 3D printer generates plastic prototype parts from computer generated 3D models.

A member of Hog Slat’s engineering group, Andrew Mitchell took a few minutes to show us how it worked.

Hog Slat 3D printer-1

“Here’s a feed line drop 
adaptor we designed for the Grow-Disk™ system,” explained Andrew as he pulled up a 3D model on his computer screen. “We needed to develop a model that would work on both metal and plastic tubes.  Since these tubes have slightly different diameters, we wanted to test the fit before proceeding with molding.”

Hog Slat 3D printer-2The cube in the screen represents the printer’s chamber, and the white image is a digital model.  The program divides the object into digital cross-sections and the printer builds the object in layers.   The printer makes multiple passes spraying very thin layers of plastic until the final shape is complete. 

Hog Slat 3D printer-3“You can almost compare the printer to a giant glue gun that accurately places liquid plastic down in precise layers,” Andrew said, “The process can take from several hours up to several days depending on the size of the item.  The maximum size part we can print is 10” x 10” x 12” tall”

Hog Slat 3D printer-4“We were able to take the prototype drop adaptor and test it on both the metal and plastic feed tubes. We made a few small dimensional adjustments and proceeded with complete confidence that the final part would fit as we intended.”

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Engineering Grower Select

Hog Slat's Frank Harris

Frank Harris, Head of Hog Slat’s Engineering Department, spoke with us about the development of the GrowerSELECT product line.

What is the focus of the GrowerSELECT product line?

Hog Slat wanted to directly source products to reduce final cost to the end user. We knew we could lower the cost if we reduced the number of people that handled a product, and in many cases improve the quality.

Replacement motors for fans and feed systems were the first items we started to direct source.  OEM Fan and feed auger companies do not produce their own motors; they all buy from the same motor companies.

We did not just buy off-the-shelf motors. We specified certain improvements in the motors based on our experience.  For instance, one problem according to our service department was motor shaft breakage.  We changed the shaft diameter blend radius and specified a hardened shaft of 1144 steel. We eliminated the problem.

Some people may have the perception that GrowerSELECT products are just cheap generic copies. How would you answer that?

I am not going to tell anybody that we invented feed systems or fans. However, in almost every case we are able to look at existing products and make improvements.

We evaluate every item developed for the GrowerSELECT lineup in three different ways.

First, from an engineering standpoint.

Can we make this product out of different material? Can we make it easier to manufacture?  Can we change the shape or size to eliminate problems?

Second, we evaluate from a repair standpoint with feedback from our service departments.

What are you fixing out in the field?  Where is this product failing?  What would make the product easier to service?

Third, and most importantly, we evaluate from our customer’s standpoint.

Is this the right product? Is this the right size?  What is giving you the biggest headache in using this product?   What changes would you make?

After gathering this information, we conduct the Process Failure Effect Mode Analysis or PFEMA.  Simply put, this is a logic method for determining why a product fails and how to correct it.  We document the process and can refer back to it when problems arise.

We then create detailed 3D computer models of the proposed product and subject it to computer-simulated stress tests.

Wait a minute; you can test the product before it is even built?

SowMAX feed hopper blog

Yes, here’s a good example.  When we first designed the blue plastic hopper for the SowMAX, we did not have a lip at the top.  When tested via computer simulation, we realized it might crack when impacted, for example if a feed cart banged into it.  We added the lip to strengthen the hopper and eliminated a potential problem.

Grower Select clear upper bootAnother example is the GrowerSELECT® clear upper boot, injected from impact-resistant polycarbonate.  It does not have to be as thick as plastic boots used by other manufacturers to have a superior breaking strength.  We were able to “tweak” the material thickness and avoid adding unnecessary additional cost to the end user.

The next part of the process is to send the drawings to a manufacturer and order sample parts to test against a quality control process known as PPAP or Production Part Approval Process.

Okay, what does that mean?

It is the same quality control process the automobile supply industry uses.  It means we take the sample products and measure them against the drawings we created.  We particularly identify those measurements most critical to the quality of the product.

Once we are satisfied that the sample batch is correct, we then order a small production run.  This first-production run is then field tested.  Our service group installs them on farms, and we monitor the results.

After field-testing is completed, we release the product to manufacturing.

Classic Flood QC checkBefore receiving those released products into warehousing, our Quality Control department conducts a series of QC checks.  Keith Riley, QC department head, creates an Incoming Inspection Document for each item.  This establishes a benchmark of quality checks used to test production parts.  This is not only done the first time we receive the product, but every time that product arrives from the manufacturer.

How many people work in Hog Slat’s engineering department?

Tim & Tim,blog

We have nine engineers and six Quality Control members. We have a good core of experienced engineers with several younger guys that we have hired…I like to say we have just the right blend of “gray hair” in the group. I have to say the younger guys have a great “toolbox” they bring with them. They are contributing with new technology.  A good example is the 3D printer we recently added to the department.  It is allowing us to perform some things we had not been able to do before.

What are future goals for your group?

Continuous improvement of products.  Just because we have a product developed doesn’t mean we quit trying to make it better.  We think we can improve motors. One of the principle reasons we are able to offer a two-year warranty is that we have such a very small percentage of motors returned under that warranty. But, we have some ideas that will improve these motors even more.

Hog Slat Supply ChainHog Slat has a very unique position in the industry.  We are responsible directly to the end user.  It is our own people installing and servicing the products we sell.  We cannot pass off problems to someone in the supply chain; we are the entire supply chain to the end user.

We have access to company farms to test new products.  We have feedback from our own service crews.  Our goal is to use these resources to improve product offerings and get those improvements to the market faster.

One of things I think we are the best at is identifying the optimum place in the world to manufacture a product.  We are not just throwing everything to Southeast Asia.  In fact, we have moved several products back to the United States. A good example is Classic Flood feeders, we started overseas but now these parts are molded in the U.S.

We do a lot of final assembly at our locations in Clinton, NC and Humboldt, IA.  We source items from the U.S. and other parts of the globe, bring those components in to test, then assemble the end products.  Using this process we have more control over the quality of the final product.

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WeatherFlow - Wind Meter for Your Smartphone

ITM-WeatherFLow in package-IMG 

The old saying, “ You can’t improve what you can’t measure,” applies to measuring wind speed in a hog or poultry house.  Gauging wind speed of tunnel ventilation or velocity out of an inlet without an anemometer (wind meter) is like trying to regulate building temperature without a thermostat.

The WeatherFlow wind meter is a great new product that allows you to use your smartphone as an anemometer.  At only $35, it is so affordable that every producer should add it to their ventilation “toolkit.” View our setup and use demonstration below to see just how easy the WeatherFlow wind meter is to use.

WeatherFlow app

First download the FREE app
at either the Apple store or Google play store.

WeatherFlow Start Screen

Then open the app and click on

the small green box in the upper left-hand corner.

WeatherFlow Settings

Click on Settings

WeatherFlow FPM

Click on Speed Units and set it to Linear Feet per Minute

WeatherFlow Time

Next click on Maximum Sample Period and Set it to 30s

WeatherFlow Take reading

Now just plug the WeatherFlow into your smartphone’s earphone jack,
and you are ready to take your first measurement.
Click on Take a Reading 

WeatherFlow with phone

Hold the wind meter away from your body and about five feet off the floor.

Take the measurements at least 40’ from the tunnel fans.
Measurements should be taken on a calm day as windy days can influence readings inside the house.
For the most-accurate results, take a reading 30 seconds long and repeat with a pause of one minute in between.

To order your WeatherFlow wind meter go to

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Hog Slat Wrote the Book on Sow Group Housing

stanchion handbook cover

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.

Stanchion pages

Download your FREE Stanchion Handbook



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Grower Select Curtain Machine

In our blog post highlighting Hog Slat’s engineering department (see Engineering Grower Select) Frank remarked, “In almost every case we can look at existing products and make improvements.”

The GrowerSELECT® Curtain Machine is a great example of making changes to existing products to improve performance and reduce maintenance.

curtain machine keyhole

If you have ever “hung” a curtain machine, you will appreciate this feature. After placing a lag bolt in the wall about ½” short of flush, you simply hang the machine from a single keyhole slot in the back of the cabinet. It is much easier to level and add the four mounting lag bolts because the unit remains supported.

Curtain machine top

The Curtain Machine includes three sealed ball bearing head pulleys instead of two.  The extra pulley is added to increase the choices for installing the main cables.  Use the two outside pulleys to cable the machine on both sides of the building.  Single-sided installations have the off side cable routed through the top pulley.

Curtain machine drive block

One of the highest mortality items on a screw type machine is the load block.  Other curtain machines use bronze, brass or nylon. However, the GrowerSELECT machine utilizes a self-lubricating, low friction acetal plastic for both the insert nut and load block slides.   For a more in-depth comparison see our blog post, “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Curtain Machine Load Blocks.”

Curtain machine Aux switch

The Curtain Machine features dual limit switches.  The primary limit switches set the travel length, with secondary or redundant switches backing these up. If the first switch fails and engages the secondary switch, the machine shuts down and must be serviced before operating again.  Also included is an auxiliary switch, used to activate a fan after the curtain closes.  Other brands charge extra for this feature.

Curtain machine switches

Another feature you will appreciate is the local control switches, standard with the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine.   A toggle switch sets the machine in manual and overrides the ventilation control.  This is a great safety feature that prevents anyone from activating the unit while it is being serviced.  In addition, it certainly makes it easier to set the limit switches compared to performing this task from a remote controller.

GS Curtain machine close up mounted_edited-1

Eventually, any curtain machine will have to be serviced, and this is where the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine shines.  Note the cutouts in the galvanized housing. You can slip the entire motor assembly out of these slots after loosening three mounting bolts.  It is much easier to service the motor outside of the cabinet.

The entire screw assembly will also come out through these cabinet slots.  It’s still a big job, but it’s possible to slide the entire assembly out for servicing rather than dismantling the screw inside the cabinet.

Although not groundbreaking, the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine is an example of Hog Slat’s commitment to engineering better products.  Click on Curtain Machine for pricing and ordering information.

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Clear Advantage for Clear Feed Tray

Hog Slat/ Georgia Poultry stores just received their first shipments of a new type of feed tray.  Manufactured from post-consumer waste, the Pur-Chick Clear Feeder Tray is different than the paper or plastic trays currently in use.


They are crystal clear, lightweight, disposable and appear to have some advantages over red plastic and paper trays.

There seems to be less Darkling beetle activity in the clear trays.  I asked several industry “bug experts”, and they weren’t sure why.

“Maybe it’s because they can’t hide under the clear tray.”

“The sides might be too slick for the beetles to climb.”

“They can’t eat through the plastic as easy as the paper tray.”

Watch the first part of the video and see for yourself.

Chicks seem to be attracted to the clear trays over paper or red plastic.  Again, not sure exactly why.

 “They can see the feed better because the trays are clear.”

“The reflective surface might look like water.”

“When they walk on the tray, it makes a crinkling sound which they are familiar with from the hatchery.”

Maybe. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

To order go to

Part # for individual trays is 521102-CLR
Bundles of 200 are part# 521102-CLR-BUND

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