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Blog posts of '2015' 'May'

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Curtain Machine Load Blocks

Nearly all of Hog Slat’s competitors try to dismiss the GrowerSELECT® product line as “just a cheap copy.” However, every time I work with Hog Slat’s engineering department I realize how misguided this perception is.  Nothing is ever “just copied.”

Image of curtain machine load blocks on a table

I was quizzing Hog Slat engineer, Tim King, about the features and benefits of GrowerSELECT’s Curtain Machine.   He explained to me that one of the highest replacement items on a screw type machine is the load nut. As the load block moves up and down the Acme screw, the friction generated causes the insert to fail.  If friction is reduced, wear and maintenance of the insert is reduced.

Curtain Machine loads block compared

1. Grower Select – Aluminum Block/Acetal Insert
2. Brass Block
3. Aluminum Block/ Brass Insert
4. Steel Block/ Nylon Insert

For the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine, Tim selected acetal plastic to be used for the insert and cabinet slides.  Acetal is one of the strongest non-reinforced plastic available to replace metal bushings.  It is able to reduce friction within the curtain machine because of its low friction coefficient.  So why is this plastic a better choice than the brass or nylon inserts shown in the pictures?

To get a better understanding of Coefficients of Friction, consider these ratings of various materials used for bearings.

Steel on steel dry contact is .80, if you apply grease it becomes .16

Brass on steel dry contact is .35, grease it and it is now .19

Nylon on steel dry contact is .25 and with lubrication moves to .15

Acetal on steel dry rating is .15.

Curtain Machine inserts

1. Nylon
2. Grower Select Acetal
3. Brass block
4. Brass insert

These ratings aren’t telling anyone anything they didn’t already know. Keep a bearing greased, and it will last a long time. What is interesting though is the rating for an acetal load nut without grease is the same as any of other insert materials with grease.

As a matter of fact, the acetal load nut does not even have a grease zerk.  However, we still recommend greasing the Acme shaft with general purpose Lithium grease, primarily to prevent surface rust on the shaft.

I wish you could put your hands on the four inserts in the picture.  The acetal has a slippery, almost oily feel to it; different than the nylon insert.  It is a denser, heavier plastic that is less brittle compared to nylon.

The real advantage is in the day-to-day maintenance on your farm.  The best intentions (like greasing a curtain machine) get lost in the bustle of all the work.  Why not choose a curtain machine with features that reduce maintenance?   Click on Curtain Machine for more information.

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Pen Vise is the Right Tool for Cleaning Brooder Orifices

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.

Pen Vise

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.


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L&L Farms combines SowMAX and Grow-Disk™

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:

074Jeff, you have purchased several Grow-Disk™ systems, why did you decide to install this feeding system?

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.

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What is an IP rating?

IP - Ingress Protection rating is used to specify the environmental protection - electrical enclosure - of electrical equipment

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New Feed System Cross Reference

ITM-GrowerSelect collage-IMG

Many producers utilize Grower Select® products to lower their production costs. Paying 30% less for repair parts reduces maintenance costs in livestock or poultry buildings and increases the bottom line.

There may some hesitation by producers to take advantage of these savings because they are not sure which Grower Select® part number to use when repairing Chore-Time® or AP® feed systems.


To make the correct selection easier, we have created a new cross reference for Grower Select® feed system parts. Simply find the OEM part number in the list and cross reference to the matching Grower Select® part number. Download the Grower Select® Feed System Parts OEM Cross Reference Sheet.

Our new Fall/Winter catalog also contains the Cross Reference list.2014 Fall:Winter catalog cover

To order a FREE copy online, click on Catalog Request.

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New Hog Slat Fall/Winter Catalog

2014 catalog cover _edited-1

Get your copy of Hog Slat and Georgia Poultry’s Fall/Winter catalog. We’ve updated the Grower Select products, added an article about SowMAX,  featured the new Classic Flood pan feeder for 45mm smooth pipe and much more. Click our Hog Slat Catalog request link to request your free copy online.

Nov Biz Covers

While you are there you can also request our quarterly Chick or Hog Biz.  Each issue is full of money-saving, seasonal specials offered to help hog and poultry farmers save money on essential items for their operations.

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Georgia Poultry Exhibits at the 2014 Sunbelt Expo

Sunbelt Expo Building

Georgia Poultry participated in the 37th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia this year. At the Expo, a complete operational broiler house was exhibited, providing attendees first hand demonstrations of some of the newest products available to poultry farmers.

Celebrating the eighth year Georgia Poultry has exhibited, this year’s Expo was a continued success. Each year Georgia Poultry’s exhibit attracts over one thousand people, and is a highlight for many of the attendees.  Located in block E-6, the booth can easily be found by looking for a feed bin outside which stands tall for all to see and is placed next to the Colquitt FFA booth, where some of the best grilled chicken and smoked pork chop sandwiches are served.

Sunbelt Expo seminar

Georgia Poultry enjoys contributing to the community, agriculture, and trade shows like this to help educate and demonstrate some of the newest technologies in both poultry and swine farming.  At the Sunbelt Expo we have numerous Georgia Poultry representatives, who are happy to help answer questions and showcase new methods and products we offer. In addition, several poultry equipment manufacturers are present inside of the exhibit space to showcase their new products as well as contribute to attendees overall experience. A highlight of this year’s show was the Cable Free Winching System, becoming the new model for suspension in poultry houses as it lasts much longer than traditional cable methods.

We invite everyone to attend the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie next year to see cutting edge demonstrations and product displays for both poultry and swine alike. Visit the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s website at find out more information about this year’s show.

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Gestation Barn Video Tour

Gestation stalls

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.

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EuroTier.....the Greatest Barn Show on Earth!

ITM-EuroTier Sign-IMG_edited-1

I gotta to tell you, it is amazing.

EuroTier bills itself as the largest animal production trade show in the world. Held every two years in Hanover, Germany the show draws over 150,000 visitors from across the globe with 2400 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

If it has anything to do with animal husbandry, it’s at EuroTier. Robotic feeding and milking equipment, imaging cameras to digitally record pigs weights, BioFuel systems, manure processing equipment….digital this……computerized that.

Is all of it practical? Probably not.

But, as the global farming industry faces the prospect of feeding nine billion people by the 2050, we will need to embrace fresh ideas. We will need to challenge ourselves to develop systems that utilize workable technology with day to day reliability.

ITM-EuroTier Customers-IMG

Hog Slat’s sales groups in each country work with local producers to create workable production systemsfor their individual farms. Hog Slat develops production ideas from around the world and adapts them to local conditions.

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SowMAX is a hit at EuroTier

SowMAX Eurotier hopper

I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at EuroTier 2014 (read more……). I asked the same question to the Hog Slat sales teams and country managers, ” What items are selling in your market?”

The answers varied, but they all had one common factor….SowMAX.

From German Country Manager, Karl-Heinz Wöste, “German producers understand feeding lactating sows as individuals results in heavier pigs at weaning. The SowMAX system accomplishes this task while reducing labor. Producers also like how simple the SowMAX is….no electronic ear tags to lose or motors to fail.”

SowMAX eurotier customers

“Our customers are adding SowMAX feeders to existing units” explained Rafal Bozek, Country Manager of Poland. “They tried a few units and saw the results…heavier pigs at weaning. For our producers, the SowMAX is the most durable unit on the market. 100% stainless steel. No plastic parts like competitive products. Simple to use too. Fill the hopper and sow eats as little or as much as she wants every day without wasting feed.”

To see more on the benefits of SowMAX click here……

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