Let's imagine you’re at a large workplace that has a cafeteria where all workers eat. You can even have it catered by your favorite restaurant if you want; after all, this is your analogy.
Every day at lunch time, you head over to the cafeteria to grab lunch along with your friends. The cafeteria analogy works well as you’re given free choice on where you sit and who you hang out with.
You pick your table and have a seat, as do some of the other people in the room.
As you start to eat, you notice that there are quite a few people mingling in the room looking for a seats. The noise increases, as does your blood pressure!
Distracted, you do your best to continue eating, but you can feel your anxiety continue to rise.
Soon you notice that you are getting thirsty. While the food was delicious, it was rather dry. Looking across the room you see a table with water carafes and glasses; but you know if you get up the guests behind you will quickly take your spot.
Is it worth it? You glance back you to see even more people have arrived. Nope, it is definitely better to just finish eating.
You hurriedly finish your food and slowly attempt to back out of your chair to leave. You aren't even completely out of your seat before someone else has claimed your spot.
"Time for water and some peace and quiet," you think... But first you have to get all the way back through the cafeteria and all those who haven’t got to sit down yet.
So, How Was Your Lunch?
Most people would probably agree that the above situation is less than their ideal way to get a meal! But if we aren't designing barns with the sow experience in mind, it is easy to end up with this exact situation. And no one, sow or human, wants to eat in a loud and stressful environment. When choosing an ESF system, it is vital that you can keep other sows from harassing the one "at the table." This can only be done by creating a safe distance from the girl eating and the girls waiting to eat, and by choosing a forward-exiting system that does not require a sow to force herself back into a hungry crowd.
So if there is one take away we can leave you with, it is to think like a pig as you plan your barn build or remodel; and hire partners who design with the sow in mind. When she is comfortable, she is also more productive.