As it enters its 10th year of operation, we would like to highlight the building that set the group sow housing industry standard, the Eagle Creek Colony electronic sow feeding facility. The Eagle Creek barn is a 1,000 sow farrow to finish site located near Altamont, MB. It was designed using large-pen gestation and Nedap equipment and the year-to-year annual weaning in the facility is nearly 32 pigs/sow/year, which is above most conventional systems. It is a fully dynamic building with central separation. New Standard started designing the building in January 2007, and later began construction in April. The first animals were introduced to the barn in April 2008. The finisher barn was later completed in 2010.
Becoming the Designer of Choice
Originally, we were in competition for designing the sow barn as a stall barn when Smithfield and then Maple Leaf made announcements that they would be converting all of their barns to loose housing by 2017. This prompted the management at Evergreen, the parent colony of Eagle Creek, to ask us our thoughts on loose housing. We were immediately able to answer their questions and concerns and explain how we not only knew how to build these facilities properly, but also had previous experience with them. We quickly became their designer of choice.
Hog Barn Design and Build
When the project first began, we worked with the colony to finalize the design. In the design process, we not only considered the animals' movement throughout the barn, but also the location of each service and how the workers would be able to most efficiently use the barn. We had several meetings with the hog barn workers, the electrician, the plumber, and the carpenter in order to incorporate everyone’s ideas and improve efficiency in every aspect of the design. While we take the time to think about efficiency, we also mediate meetings to make sure we are productive and keep the project moving forward. In our design, we provided the layout for the loose housing section of the barn as well as the rest of the animal areas. New Standard also designed and supplied the ventilation, heating, flooring, and feeding systems.
After the design was complete, we assisted with and oversaw installation of the equipment, ensuring that all of the areas were completed in the way that they were intended to be. We then also commissioned the entire barn; we were there when it was all powered up and went through each room to make sure that all the equipment functioned properly and the barn was ready to use. As Eagle Creek brought in the first animals, we assisted them with training both the staff and the animals, and we continued with follow up visits until they were comfortable with the operation of the entire facility.
Technology in the Loose Housing Barn
At New Standard, we are committed to using up-to-date technology in order to increase efficiency in each group housing barn. In the Eagle Creek loose housing facility, we used Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding systems. The ventilation systems we implemented are controlled by Microfan, and they incorporate chimney ventilation with Dynamic Air (measuring fan) using EMI motors. For nursery feeding, we used a Caras feeder and Falcon chain disk feed delivery systems. In the finisher barn, we included an autosort finisher with central feed delivery using the Falcon 102mm chain disk.
Updates and Success of the Building
To this point, Eagle Creek has not needed to make any major changes to the layout or equipment of the facility. The largest change we made was when we later went back to install pre-training gates for the gilts, which significantly decreased the amount of work required to train gilts. Other than this update, the barn is still being used as designed. The ESF system has been kept up to date through software updates only. These have been provided at no cost, which is normal for this system.
The production of the Eagle Creek hog barn has been at or above expectations since they started and remains at the top of benchmarking. Within the first few years of operation, they had visitors through the barn from every continent (except Antarctica) and are still called upon today for tours of the facility. The design of the barn has been recognized as being a global leader in quality and incorporation of technology. The success of the barn in the long term is also directly tied to the quality of management at Eagle Creek.
Checkout the articles below to see more about the Eagle Creek Facility over the years:
Article from 2012 on the benefits of open housing at Eagle Creek
Evaluation of a Commercial Group Sow Housing Alternative. Final Report to Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council Inc.
Report released by the University of Manitoba in regards to animal welfare at Eagle Creek
Article on page 10
If you are interested in learning more about New Standard or would like to discuss what solutions are right for you, schedule a free consultation with us. We will be more than happy to sit down and talk through everything from barn design to staff training.