It seems like we never know what kind of late summer we are going to get. It could be hot and dry, it could be unseasonably cool. For most people, hot and dry summer days are a reminder to relax and lounge around the pool, but if you're a barn owner, you should be thinking about how you can use those hot summer days to clean your barns. Here are some tips to help your summer barn cleaning run a bit more smoothly.
Picking the Right Day to Clean the Barn
Group sow housing pens don’t usually get a lot of cleaning, but if you want to get rid of some accumulated dust, the best days for cleaning are those blistering hot summer days with lower humidity when you can get a lot of ventilation. This helps to minimize the disturbance around the animals by removing dust rapidly and increases the likelihood your barn will dry out quickly. Unfortunately, we haven't yet figured out a way to order up perfect barn cleaning weather on command, so we encourage producers to plan and have all the tools and equipment ready. That way, when a hot day is in the forecast you are prepared to get the job done.
Equipment to Have On Hand for Cleaning
Most of what you need to clean in a hog barn can be tackled with simple tools that you already have in your arsenal. The best way that we've found to clean is with a leaf blower, a good ventilation system, high volume water from a fire hose, and a very hot and dry summer day. Turn your fans on high and use a leaf blower to get most of the dust out of the barn through the ventilation system. Then wash the rest of the debris down into your pits using with a high-volume hose.
Some barns swear by pressure washers for this general barn cleaning; if you've found what works for your barn, then stick to it! We have found that in most cases a fire hose with a high volume of water is just as effective. Pressure washers are great for intricate cleaning jobs, or jobs where more precision is required.
Training Needs to Change When The Hottest Weather Hits
If you're running an ESF training program in your pens, you might have to put the training on hold for a few days when the heat indexes are high. Pigs, just like people, don't function at their best when they are hot; nor do they want to eat very much.
When it comes to starting a training program, a longer range weather forecast is your friend. If it is going to be hot and dry for the first few days of training (heat index of over 100 degrees), it might make more sense to put it off or push the animals through earlier to avoid doing the first few days of training during those hottest days. Your pigs aren't going to eat anyway and you will be wasting your time trying to force them to.
When the heat is at its peak, let the girls have a few days "off" of training and focus on keeping them cool and happy. Training can pick back up when the weather improves. And in the meantime, you might just get some barn cleaning done!
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