You have no items in your shopping cart.

Blog posts tagged with 'animal health'

Good Slat Design Aid in Preventing Swine Lameness
Totally slatted flooring used in group sow housing.
Totally slatted concrete flooring used in group sow housing.

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.

Level top provides surface that is easier on pig's feet and joints.

Level top provides a surface that is easier 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.


Rotoscreen "striking off" dry cast concrete on mold to apply flat surface on slats.

Rotoscreed “striking off” dry cast concrete from mold to apply a flat surface on slats.

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.

Machine produced slats

Hog Slat floor slats provide a flat, even surface for pigs.

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.

Wet cast slats by feeder showing exposed aggregate damage.
Wet cast slats by feeder showing exposed aggregate damage and repaired surface with Vanberg Specialized Coatings. 

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

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

Comments (0)
Medicator Best Practices

Virginie Buck
By Virginie Buck,
Dosatron International

Everyone knows that water-powered medicators are the easiest way to administer a wide variety of medications, vaccinations and supplements. But after you buy a medicator, there are several things you can do to make sure you get the most bang for your buck from your equipment, and that it will last a long time.

When installing your medicator, be sure to plumb an 80 micron/200 mesh filter on the inlet side of the medicator. This will ensure that your medicator will be protected from poor water quality conditions that can potentially damage your unit. This will also protect any equipment you have downstream from the medicator, such as nipples, valves, and drinkers, from getting clogged and wearing out prematurely.

Also, make sure that your concentrate bucket is clean and free from debris that could get sucked up inside the medicator and jam the check valve. A good rule of thumb is to secure your hose at least 4” up from the bottom of the stock tank so that heavy debris is not sucked up into the medicator.

Always be sure that your maximum flow rate stays within the maximum capacity of your medicator. Be sure to check with your medicator’s manufacturer for specifications and for ways to determine flow rate. If you determine that your flow rate is higher than the maximum recommended, you may want to consider switching to a model with a higher maximum flow rate. Turning your water on slowly will gradually pressurize the system, helping to prevent a rush of water through the pipes that could be harmful to the equipment.

One of the most important things you can do to protect your medicator is to keep up the medicator’s maintenance schedule, which you should be able to get from your medicator’s manufacturer.

Flushing your medicator with clear water may be the single most important tip I can give.

Strainer off bottom

Medicators are one of the most important weapons in your arsenal when it comes to keeping your animals as healthy as possible. By following these simple best practices, you’ll make sure that your medicator continues to work hard for you for years to come.

Comments (0)
Swine Air Filtration Basics

While speaking with Perry Hartman, a sales rep for Hog Slat in Minnesota, I was brought up to speed on a topic that is quietly gaining some momentum in the industry…air filtration.   Southern Minnesota is an area that has seen rapid growth in pig numbers in the past several decades.  This high hog density has made herds there very susceptible to PRRS outbreaks.  To combat this, area producers have turned to air filtering to prevent herd infections.  Perry has been involved with 6 different projects and is currently working on the 7th.  These projects have ranged from a boar stud to a complete 5,000 head sow complex. Perry credits a close working relationship with Dr. Darwin Riecks of the Swine Vet Center in St. Peters, MN in making these projects a success.

Some of the leading technical information has come from an U of M test farm in Morris, MN.  There are three different buildings that have been outfitted with three different brands of filters and are tested for effectiveness against the PRRS virus.  From this initial research, it was determined the PRRS virus can be transmitted over 5 miles in distance and the greatest risk comes at temperatures between 40°-60° with a light 3-7 mph wind.

Using this information, a basic strategy has evolved around filtering the minimum air flow coming into the building.  A typical farrowing room has ceiling inlets for winter/transition air flow.   Minimum winter air flow can be effectively filtered by placing filtering boxes in the attic over the inlets.

To permit installation and future service to the attic filtering system, an access is built in the end of the building gable with a stairway and locked door.

A catwalk is built inside to allow access to inlet filter boxes.

Galvanized boxes are installed between the rafters to mount the filters in. A pre-filter is installed to protect the filter from dust. The building structure needs to be examined for cracks that must be sealed and caulked to prevent unfiltered air from short circuiting the ventilation inlets.   By filtering the incoming air during the periods of highest disease threat (40-60°) some producers feel that temperatures above this will kill the virus effectively.

A complete filtration system goes past the basics and includes filtering the maximum air flow coming through the cool cell system.   Every situation requires careful calculation but a rough rule of thumb is to provide twice as much air filtering area as existing air inlets.

Retrofits for farrowing buildings have involved extending the roof line and adding a hallway to mount the filters in.   The filtering pads are installed in the new exterior wall and are protected by an outside curtain.

Pre-filters are installed over the filters to prevent clogging of the system by dust and debris.

A tunnel ventilation system, as used in many gestation and GDU buildings, require adding an extension on the gable end and creating an area that is large enough to mount the filter system. An “accordion” style arrangement of filter mounting is used in many cases to achieve the desired amount of filtering area.

This is brief overview of the basics for air filtering as it has evolved to date.  Again there is no “canned” solution as they are retrofits to existing ventilation systems.  Each must be examined carefully and correctly sized to prevent excessively high static pressures that could damage fan motors and the filters themselves.  Perry has invaluable knowledge of filtration systems gained through field experience over the last couple of years.

Comments (0)
Medicator RX

A NEW Solution to Clean and Help Extend the Life of your Medicator

Medicator Rx is a water soluble concentrate, with Aqua Lube, that is designed specifically for maintaining and cleaning medicators used in swine barns and poultry houses.

It removes:

  • Rust
  • Bio-deposits
  • Calcifications

Medicator Rx solution also lubricates your medicator’s interior seals and all moving components as it cleans.

Medicator Rx can be used in two different ways, cleaning in-line and deep cleaning.

  • For in-line cleaning, between medicating and vaccinating cycles, mix one packet into 16 ounces of water, turn water on to inject Medicator Rx solution into the medicator and let it sit overnight*.
  • For deep cleaning, without scrubbing, disassemble the medicator and simply soak the parts in the Medicator Rx solution for 12 – 24 hours*. You will be amazed with the results!

Medicator Rx is recommended to use when performing maintenance or repairs. One packet will clean one medicator.

Click here to order on line.

*Follow directions on packet.

Comments (0)
Sort Barn Remodel

In 2005 Dustin Anderson and Paul Anderson came to an agreement on a  venture allowing Dustin to quit his job at the local coop and farm full time. Besides farming 1,500 acres, Paul also serves as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and wanted to devote more time to his political career.   Part of the agreement included each of them constructing a 2,498 head finishing house with Dustin managing the sites.

original sort barn

Dustin explained “The integrator that we fed with at the time spec’ed a sort barn system and we constructed the facilities according to the standard plan. The sort barn was different from what we were used to managing.  The pigs had to be trained to go through the sorting scale for about three weeks, we had to force them through until they learned where the feed was. Even with that type of training there always seemed to be a handful of pigs that refused to go through the sorting scale. They would literally starve themselves to death.  In addition, anytime the pigs became sick, the whole barn would refuse to go into the food court.  We would then have to open up the gates and give them access to the feeders. After a couple of days of that, we would have to retrain them all again!”

“Our death loss was a little higher than we would have like because it was hard to treat individual pigs. The pigs had a half a barn to run around in and giving a shot or separating a pig from the group was a job. The one thing I will say is that the pigs loaded for market like a dream. I could literally load a semi in 15 minutes. The pigs were accustomed to moving around in large pens, and they would run right up into the truck.”

Dustin continued, “Several years ago we changed companies and quickly found out our feed conversion and rate of gain were not measuring up.  In order to compete, we felt we needed to convert to a more typical pen layout.

“We called our local Hog Slat rep, Wade Finch, when we got serious about doing the retro.  Wade measured up the rooms and met with us several times before we decided on a final layout.  We set up the rooms with a center alley and 18 pens measuring 18’8” wide X 23’9” long holding 65 head each.


In addition, we created four “sick pens” that are 9’4” wide.

We also added extra gating by the feeders so we can shut off the front of the pen and presort for load out.

It took a lot of cutting and welding, but we were able to utilize most of the existing gating, feed system and watering equipment for the retro.”

Justin was just starting to sort pigs out of the first remodeled barn the day of my site visit.  When I asked about the results he replied, “We would typically start to sell out of the old system after 18 weeks and finish up with the last ones going out at 22 weeks. We’ll start selling the first group out of the remodeled barn at 13 weeks, and I’m sure the last pigs will be gone at 15 weeks. Chores are much easier; I can see all the pigs and treat sick ones without having to chase them around.”

“Now that I see the results, I wish I would have done it several years ago!”

Comments (0)
Sow Group Housing Conversion Answers Welfare Concerns

MB stanchions_3_edited-Large

Murphy-Brown’s North Division has completed one of the largest stall to group housing conversions in the industry. All the company farms have been converted to group housing over the last four years; 58,000 sows in total.  Keith Allen, General Manager of the North Division, discussed the conversion.


Keith, how did you decide on the type of group system?

“Long before we announced our conversion plans, we toured several types of housing systems abroad; ESF (Electronic Sow Feeding), Free-Access stalls and Pens with feeding stations or Stanchions.  We felt stanchions would require the least amount of cost and would be easiest to manage. The results four years post conversion support that decision.”


MB stanchions_4_edited-Large

Can you explain that a little further?

“Our production records validate improvements for any metric you can compare, pig/born, pigs weaned, etc.  The company farm production records rank better than most contract growers with stall gestation.  Sow mortally is neutral when compared to traditional stall operations in the system.  Fighting is less than we expected. Although we anticipated higher feed consumption in gestation, it also has remained neutral.”

Do you manage any other types of group housing systems to compare stanchions to?

“We have a large 10,500-sow unit with ESF feeding stations.  The repair and maintenance of the feeding stations requires a full time employee on this operation.  There is extra labor involved with the management of the animals.  Every day the computer system prints a list of animals that didn’t record entry into the ESF from the previous day.  An employee must locate those animals and identify why; Is she sick? Did she lose her tag? Is the feeding station in need of repair? Etc.”

“We just don’t have the extra labor costs or the maintenance in our stanchion type barns.”

“Free access stalls don’t have the same issues, but are more expensive to construct and present an increased opportunity of equipment failure with the gate latching mechanism.  There is also a chance an employee inadvertently or purposely could lock the animals in the stalls, and then we really don’t have loose pen housing anymore.”

How did the transition go on the farms?

“The transition was seamless; our employees now prefer stanchions to the stall system we used before.”


MB stanchion floorplan_edited-LARGE 

What are basic design requirements you used?

“We designed the pens to hold six sows with 24 square feet per animal; there is one feeding stanchion per sow.  The stanchions are 24” wide, and the dividers are 18” long.  The length of the divider is important; this divider should be long enough to extend past the shoulders. By extending past her shoulder, she feels more comfortable and secure when eating.”

“The facility design provides breeding stalls to house sows for 35 to 42 days post insemination.  After preg-checking, sows are grouped by size and moved to the pens.”

“An additional 3-5% of stalls have been added in the Group Housed gestation barns to provide critical care space for any animals that may require extra care or must be removed from the pens.”


MB stanchions_1_edited-Large

Have you made changes to the design over time since beginning the conversion?

“Yes, our original layouts allowed for 7% extra stalls in the group housed gestation barns…..we have since cut that back to only 3-5%.”

“We have also realized it is unnecessary to have an alleyway between rows in group housed gestation. We simply mount the stanchions and sow feed drops head to head. One of the things you lose with group housing is the ability to regulate individual feed intake… manage by pens, so there isn’t a lot of adjustment to the drops.”

“We also have added “Access Doors” to the pen dividers to make it easier to walk from pen to pen.  These consist of two posts set far enough apart that a person can squeeze through with a swinging solid divider on top to prevent the animals from attempting to go over the opening.  We no longer have to climb pen dividers to check sows.”

How have the changes been viewed by Smithfield’s customers?

“I have personally toured many representatives from large food companies through our remodeled facilities.  These companies made public commitments to securing pork from “stall-free” producers by a named date….they are listening to the consumer and committed to their long term Sustainability Programs.  In every case, the reps remarked how well cared for the animals seemed to be and remarked how clean the facilities were.   We think we have answered their concerns with this type of group housing.”

Comments (0)
An Improved Rodent Bait Rotation

Bait rotation is an important strategy for effective control of rodents in livestock and poultry buildings.  Continued use of one active ingredient or bait type may increase the risk for potential resistance problems.  Rodent populations may also prefer the flavor or texture of one type of bait.


Liphatech’s recent introduction of the new soft bait Revolver™ gives producers even more choices in their bait rotation program.


FastDraw and Hombre both contain the same active ingredient, Difethlalone.  FastDraw is a soft bait and Hombre is available as a mini block or place pak. Revolver and Boot Hill are formulation with the same active ingredient, Bromadiolone.  Revolver is the soft bait version and Boot Hill comes in either a mini block or pellet place pack.


New Bait Rotation_edited-1




Now producers can add another element, texture into their bait rotations.  Note the double orange arrows in the rotation diagram illustrating the possible choices.  For example if the first bait used was FastDraw the next choice in the rotation could be either Revolver (soft bait) or Boot Hill (mini blocks) as they both contain a differen active ingredient Bromadiolone.  If Boot Hill was selected the next step in the rotation back to Difethlalone could be either FastDraw (soft bait) or Hombre (mini blocks).


Also note on the diagram the rodenticide Gunslinger highlighted with the blue circle.  We highly recommend Gunslinger be inserted into any bait rotation at clean out as it most effective when animals aren’t present and feed sources can be removed. Gunslinger contains a completely different active ingredient, Bromethalin and its “knockdown” on rodent populations is impressive.


Shop the entire line of Liphatech® Baits today to compare their features and choose the best options for your operation.

Comments (0)
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



Comments (0)
SowMAX ebook

We just released our new SowMAX ebook.

It’s the illustrated manual on feeding sows in lactation with SowMAX. See the section on ordering hardware and brackets to add SowMAX dispensers to your farrowing crates.

Click here to download your free copy.


Go to our web page to watch SowMAX videos .

Comments (0)
Important Information About Official Swine ID Ear Tags

Official Swine ID – FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

With the USDA Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rules now in place there is an increasing emphasis on livestock traceability within State and Federal agencies and the livestock industry. More and more producers are hearing about Official ID products and specifically to this article, how it pertains to swine.

There are two main categories when it comes to Official ID for Swine. There are “840” tags and there is the “Swine Premises Tag”. Below are the details and common questions for both.

840 Tags:

What is an 840 tag?

840 tags are USDA approved tags for official individual animal identification. They will have a unique 15 digit number that always starts with “840” which is the country code for the United States. A manufacturer has to be approved by the USDA to produce a specific 840 tag.

What is a common use for 840 tags in Swine?

Increasingly 840 tags are being required for Swine Shows, State and County Fairs and Auctions. They can also be used for Interstate Commerce.

How do I purchase 840 tags?

You must have a registered Premises ID before you can purchase 840 Tags. If you don’t have your Premises ID you should start with contacting your State Animal Health Agency. You can find your respective state’s contact information at the following link:

Once you have your Premises ID you can order your 840 tags and tag applicator by Destron Fearing from Hog Slat.  (See chart below)

840 Ear Tags Chart

Swine Premises (PIN) tags:

Why is a Swine Premises tag commonly referred to as a PIN tag?

Swine Premises tags are official location identification for cull breeding stock (cull sows and boars). The minimum requirement is for them to be used on cull breeding animals just prior to entering harvest channels from their farm of origin.

What does PIN stand for?

Premises Identification Number. It is a unique 7 character alpha-numeric national site identifier.

Can I use them for identifying feeder pigs/weaner pigs for movement and/or show pigs?

No, they are for use with animals in the breeding herd only.

Why was January 1st, 2015 important for Swine Premises tags?

That was the date that the swine industry and packers/processors agreed on to make PIN tags a requirement of sale. If a producer wants to receive full value for their cull breeding animals from that date forward, the animals need an Official Swine Premises tag in their ear before leaving their farm of origin.

When should I apply the PIN tags to my animals?

Most producers are applying them to new breeding animals as they enter the breeding herd and are using it as their management tag. You may also apply them when culling an animal from the farm, just prior to the animal entering harvest channels.

How do I purchase Swine Premises (PIN) tags?

You must have a registered Premises ID (National 7 character alpha-numeric ID) before you can purchase Swine Premises Tags. If you don’t have your Premises ID you should start with contacting your State Animal Health Agency. You can find your respective state’s contact information at the following link:

Once you have your Premises ID you can order your Swine Premises tags and tag applicator by Destron Fearing™ from Hog Slat.  (See chart below)

PIN Ear Tags Chart_900x450

Hog Slat also offers a wide selection of Destron Fearing™ livestock identification tags for your cattleswinesheep and goatsClick here to shop the entire line of animal identification tags and accessories.

Comments (0)