Ag Experience Insider: Pig Barn Renovations

Like many aspects of agriculture, the hog industry has seen lots of evolution over the years. In order to keep up, pig farmers have to change with the times. Hillside Partners has been busy updating their barns to continue producing high-quality hogs. Continue reading to learn about these renovations through the eyes of Dawn Kress.

Agricultural Evolution

Agriculture is consistently evolving in the way we produce crops and livestock. Hog production follows suit. This hog barn site was built in March 1997 with 6 “rooms,” each holding 250 nursery pigs to be housed until harvested.

Since then, the site evolved in 2007 to accommodate weaner/feeder pigs with different feeders, pens, slats, and such when our farm transitioned out of farrowing.

Evolving the Farm

This year, it was time for yet another change to this site. The barns are structurally sound, and as farmers continually using what we have, they chose to renovate the existing site.

    • The bulk bins were replaced, reducing their number from several to two large capacities, which significantly improved the efficiency of hauling feed to them. 

I’ll always remember riding on the tractor fender, as I did as a kid, but as an adult with Ryan down the lane to fill these bins with feed with the mixer mill. Now, we have two feed trucks that each haul 15 tons. More pigs, more feed. 

    • They removed walls to open up to one larger “room” to maximize airflow and created tunnel ventilation. Air is brought in on one gable end and pulled through the barn by fans on the opposite end. 
    • New gates & feeders were put in (short girl-friendly feeders; I’m a tall 5’3”, and I help receive in groups of baby pigs by filling the feeders with pellets, so this was a very exciting change for me!)
    • Updated electrical panel components, curtains, and curtain machines. Again, airflow! Plus, the winters in NE Iowa can be chilly, snowy, and oh so fun. Having the ability to have the curtains up and installed during those seasons helps keep the barn warm. Fun note: With tunnel ventilation, you’ll see curtains on barns up most often to help draw air in and through the barn.
    • A new load-out chute for ease of semi-trailers to back up to, smoother to receive in the weaner size pigs, but even more importantly, a smoother exit for market weight hogs

Learning as We Go

When confinement barns were first introduced from outside lots, the farmers knew what they knew at the time. Now, the hog industry has evolved and pig farmers have learned through research and trial and error to maximize pig health and production with different ventilation options and feeders, among other things.

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