Converting to a Group Sow Housing Barn

6 days ago
Listen as Chet Mogler from Pig Hill Farms in Northwest Iowa explains why they decided to convert to loose sow housing. Hear what the conversion included and ...

English subtitle

The facility definitely started to show its
age, and we were to the point where the genetics
had outgrown the facilities' abilities to
properly house them.
So we were going to need to make a lot of
investment in our current 900 head sow farm
to keep it functional for the foreseeable
future.
We do not disagree with individual stall housing,
but we were definitely interested in what
was out there for group housing.
And so we started to do our homework and look
into the different options.
We had a few requirements and that was that
production would not go down because of the
housing.
We did not want animal care to be reduced
because of the housing.
And we wanted to be able to feed them on a
individual basis even though they were grouped
together, for proper nutrition.
We looked around at a lot of different options
and talked to a lot of different people about
our ideas and were introduced to New Standard
and their work with Velos and Nedap and their
group housing concepts.
So we chose to build a 4400 head sow farm.
Our goal was to fill 2400 finishing barns
in a week, so that's how we decided to size
the farm.
And it is a fully filtered farm located in
Lyon County, Northwest Iowa.
There are a lot of other pigs around and so
disease is our biggest challenge.
And so we do everything from technology and
biosecurity to keep that at bay.
The housing concept, we didn't want to limit
ourselves for the future because we knew we
were going to invest a lot of money in the
system and so we wanted the ability to fit
not today's genetics but the future's genetics.
We wanted to be moving dirt in the Spring
of 2015.
We are, permitting was not a huge challenge
for us.
There's a lot of other places that is a challenge
where we are in a very ag friendly community,
so that was not a challenge for us to get
permits.
We broke ground on our 4400 head sow farm
in the spring of, or in March of 2015.
We did a two phase build, so we built half
of the project so our sow farm consist of
two gestation barns and two farrowing barns
and one gilt developer barn.
We started with a gilt developer barn, the
first phase gestation barn, and then the first
phase farrowing barn.
And in 2015 and in 2016, we added a second
gestation barn and our second farrowing barn.
Here in the spring of 2017, we're just finishing
up our final breeds on stocking and to date
have had very good success with the feeding
system.
Our animal behavior we have very little to
no fighting in the pens.
Our biggest problem-causer in the group housing
is an open sow, and so, or an open gilt, and
so when they are coming into heat, they tend
to pester everybody else and ride and so those
are the, that's really from a behavior standpoint,
that is the biggest challenge in female.
So, obviously our goal would be highest conception
rate possible, have as few of those females
in the group housing pen as possible and as
soon as we notice them, get them pulled out
and other than that sow behavior, sow fighting
has really been to a minimum.
The feed stations have worked relatively flawlessly.
I mean, we've had, I've maybe been down on
a station for a half hour twice in two years,
and so the equipment has worked very well
and so no complaints as far as the equipment
and the way it's held up on startup.
And the behavior of the pens has worked very
well.
Again, our challenge is always disease in
this area and so that always comes number
one, biosecurity and stuff for us.
I would tell others that if I was to build
another barn today that we would put group
housing in this exact same concept.