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Blog posts tagged with 'swine feed system'

How Complicated Does Feeding a Sow Need to Be?

Ever notice how some people or companies try to make a job more difficult than it has to be?

Today I read an article about a show case farm with an  integrated computer system including electronic sow feeding.  There is a picture showing a hand held computer programming in the amount of feed that a sow will receive according to its body condition score.

Looks like a complicated and expensive system that isn’t any more effective than hand feeding.  If the computer based delivery system puts more feed in front of the sow than she can eat then it spoils and if the system puts in too little she doesn’t get the nutrients she needs for full milk production.

Compare this to feeding with a SowMAX.

You fill the hopper.  The sow activates the lever and eats as much or as little as she wants….whenever she wants……night or day.

No guess work.  No wasted feed.  No under fed animals.

In the same e-mag there was also an advertisement describing an ad lib sow feeder that looked a lot like the SowMAX.  One crucial difference though, it described the product as having a “timer that dispenses food at desired intervals over a 24 hour period”

Who’s desired time, yours or the sow’s?   Why would you use a timer and motor instead of a lever?   Most importantly this feeding dispenser still requires the operator to make a decision on the amount of feed that is metered out in 24 hours.

Again, same story. Feed too much and you’ll get spoilage or feed too little and the sows produce less milk.   The SowMAX system lets the sow make the decision instead of a human operator.

SowMAX is the best Ad Lib Feeder on the market today.

  • All stainless steel construction instead of plastic or nylon which means it lasts longer.
  • Simple mechanical activation instead motor and switches which means no parts to replace.
  • Eliminates guess work in determining the amount of feed which means the sows are always feed correctly.

To learn more about SowMAX go to

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Ad Lib Sow Feeder That Saves Feed?

SowMAX ad lib dispenser

Claiming an Ad Lib Sow Feeder can save feed may seem like a contradiction of terms.  How can allowing a sow unlimited access to feed save money on feed?

It’s simple really…sows are individuals with different eating and consumption patterns.  Some days they’re extra hungry, some days they’re not. Sows also prefer to eat at different times of day.

It’s hard to guess right when feeding lactating sows.  Feed them too much and they don’t eat it all…it spoils in the feeder and you end up dumping it out and wasting feed.

That’s the beauty of the SowMAX ad lib dispenser.  The hopper is filled, either by hand or from an overhead auger system, and the sow decides how much she will eat.  She eats to appetite without wasting feed…’ll see heavier litters; sows stay in better condition coming out of lactation and reduced feed waste.

To learn more go to

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SowMAX and Weaned Sows

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Fritz Richards, Hog Slat’s national sales manager. Next time you are in North Carolina we need to run out to TDM #29 and take a look at the way they are utilizing a SowMAX feeder for feeding weaned sows.” It just so happened I was going to be in North Carolina the following week so I met Fritz at his office and we set out for the farm.  As we drove he filled me in.   “They have adapted 30 of the breeding row stalls with small bowl feeders and SowMAX dispensers mounted in the front gate.    It’s giving them a chance to compare the results against the other 70 stalls that are fed by the standard method.”   “What is the thinking behind that?" I asked.   “They know that if they can increase the energy intake of a sow from weaning to first service they will get production benefits.  The problem has been it’s tough to increase consumption without over feeding and wasting feed.  With the high cost of feed it’s more important than ever to feed sows correctly without wastage.”   “We have had several industry production advisors through the farm recently and they were very positive about what they saw.”   We showered into the farm and happened to catch the unit manager, Britt Hooper and his staff during their morning break.  Fritz spoke with Britt about his early experiences with the SowMAX test.  To view a video of his observations please go to

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Hog Slat Showcases Swine Equipment at EuroTier 2012

Billed as the world’s top event for animal production, EuroTier was held this past week in Hanover, Germany.  Producers from across the world attend EuroTier and for many it was their first exposure to American style production equipment as exhibited by Hog Slat.

We spoke with Hog Slat’s European sales manager, Kirk Brincks and asked about international producers comments concerning the equipment. He replied, “ Their general reaction is Hog Slat builds durable products that represent a good value.  They like the common sense design and how it is incorporated into the overall building layout.”

We asked Kirk what particular item was most popular, “ I would have to say the SowMAX dispensers.  All producers are facing high feed costs and feed saving equipment is important to them.  A customer, with sow farms in the Ukraine and Poland, has installed over 1,000 SowMAX units and is sold on the feed savings.”

He continued, “Another big item of interest is concrete slats.  We had many producers who see them for the first time and immediately comment on the quality.  I think people tend to view concrete slats as all being kind of the same, but we really do build a slat that will last longer.  Experienced producers seemed to recognize it very quickly.”

“And”, he laughed, “they always ask when are we building a slat plant near them”

Kirk finished up with, “The Grower Select line has caught on quickly. We have several production companies that we work with in identifying their high replacement items, providing them easy order forms and stocking those parts for quick delivery.   Grower Select just fits with Hog Slat’s basic philosophy of providing producers with a better value for their money……. in this case it’s excellent quality replacement parts that are priced right.”

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Factors Impacting Feed Conversion

Here’s a thought provoking list of 20 factors that effect feed conversion in swine production. We pulled this information 0ut of Jim Long’s Pork Commentary on Dec 17th which he cited Vern Pearson PhD and Mariela Lachman PhD.   As Jim noted with the cost of feed rising so dramatically, effectively utilization of rations has never been more important. Number one on the list?... feed wastage.

Hog Slat manufacturers feeders that have been proven to save feed for over 25 years.  Hog Slat dry feeders are the industry’s standard in finishing and nurseries barns, our wet/dry and round fiberglass feeder are additional options and we continue to pioneer sow feeding in breeding and farrowing with SowMAX. Choose Hog Slat hog feeders and feed system components for your next replacement, remodel or new construction project.  

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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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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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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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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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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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