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Blog posts of '2017' 'November'

Features of a well designed backyard nest box

Providing your flock with proper nesting boxes ensures they have a comfortable, secure place to lay their eggs. Without nests, the hens will seek locations on their own, making egg collection more difficult.


Allow one nest box per 4 - 5 hens. It is not necessary or even desirable to provide additional nest boxes. Besides the initial cost, extra nests require more bedding material, encourage chickens to roost in the empty slots, and take more time to clean.   Install the nests at least 18" to 20" above the floor preferably on a wall away from the roosting area.   Because chickens like to roost in the highest part of the house, do not place the nests higher that the roosting perches. If possible try not to place the nests above feed and water to prevent contamination from nesting material and droppings.


The nests should be designed with 45° sloped roof to prevent the hens from roosting on top. Perches

Provide a perch just below the opening for the birds to land on before entering. Nests with foldable perches allow the nest to be shut off at night to prevent roosting. Simply fold them up at night to restrict access and in the morning lower the perches for the chickens to use.  

nest bottoms

Nests will become dirty from broken eggs, bedding material or droppings and will need occasional cleaning. Choosing nests constructed from metal or plastic with removable bottoms makes the job much easier.


Flock owners can also replace straw or wood chip bedding with plastic nesting pads that are simple to pull out for cleaning. To see all the Farmstead nests go to  Farmstead Nest  

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Step three, adjusting water pH

Part three of our series on treating swine drinking water.

Jesse McCoy, CWS, Business Unit Specialist, Water Treatment, Neogen Corp.


Following proper terminal line disinfection and water disinfection, the next step in a creating a beneficial water program is modifying the pH. For any animal to reach its full genetic potential, we must manage the water to achieve the correct pH level in its gut.   The pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; less than 7 is considered acidic and over 7 alkaline. Water pH is a major factor in determining the effectiveness of various water treatments.   Adjusting the pH into the acidic range benefits the animal's GI tract by creating a detrimental environment for pathogenic biology. Other research points to improvements in nutritional impacts of feed at lower pH levels with organic (chemically organic – so containing carbon) acids. There may even be benefits we still don’t understand yet with pH reduction in livestock while realizing the benefits.   The available data reflect these benefits, regardless of their mode of action.  


Terminal line disinfection in this research trial was achieved with a 3% solution of Peraside (peracetic acid disinfectant) administered into the lines with a sump pump upon depopulation. The solution sat in the lines overnight and was flushed the next morning with fresh water. All drinkers were triggered to ensure proper function before placing the pigs. Disinfection was achieved with 5ppm of MaxKlor (stabilized chlorine dioxide), and the pH was set to a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 using Dyne-O-Might (blended organic/mineral stabilized with iodine)


Water meters measured flow rates and triggered electric pumps for a precise chemical injection. This equipment ensured every gallon received the targeted treatment even with the small dosing requirements needed. Simple tests with a pH meter, at the drinkers, were used to show the pH level was maintained in the proper range.  


By adding pH adjustment to a water treatment program, the animals can finally move from survival in the barns to thriving and reaching their genetic potential.    

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Absolutely the least exciting thing about raising pigs.

Maintenance. We all know it's important but it’s not something anybody gets excited about doing.


When I started out in the business one of the old hands told me, "You don't even need to see the records to know if a farm is meeting its production targets. If the grass is mowed, the interior is clean and the all the equipment is working they’re doing a good job raising the pigs."  

Every farm operation faces the challenge of having too many things to do and too few resources to do them. It's easy to start using reactive maintenance (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) compared to planned preventive maintenance that prevents costly breakdowns.   Good feeding, watering, and ventilation equipment certainly isn't cheap and the better it's cared for the longer it will last.


The new smartphone app, BarnRX reminds producers when it's time to perform basic maintenance tasks. Available for either Apple or Android phones, the app comes preloaded with a monthly task list that can be checked as completed. In addition, the app allows an operator to add unique tasks to customize the maintenance list. Further customization is also possible by setting up multiple buildings.

  BarnRX _2

The BarnRX app also contains an industry news feed, a listing of service techs on call, and a direct link to the Hog Slat website for ordering repair parts. The final feature is promotion section with cost-saving specials and mobile coupons only available with the BarnRX app.   To see more, watch a video, and download the app, go to

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