Thinking about converting to a group gestating pen design? Remember these 6 musts when putting your pig barn plans together.
1. A Barn Staff That Cares
You can put the newest and shiniest equipment in your pig barn plans, but at the end of the day, your barn is only as functional and effective as your staff. In a group gestating pen design, your staff is the key to keeping the sows comfortable and keeping operations efficient. The sows enjoy human interaction and they learn to trust your staff. When you have a caring staff, your sows will respond. They will be more willing to follow and trust your barn staff in new and stressful situations.
2. Disease Resistant Hog Pen Panels
There are way too many channels for your herd to become infected. While most disease and infection risks come from external sources, bacteria can build in your barn and quickly affect your animals. When installing hog pen panels, it is a must to research the biosecurity and cellular structure of the panels. You are exposing your animals to one more risk if you install paneling with a molecular structure that become a haven for disease. With food grade polypropylene available, PVC is no longer an acceptable option.
3. Individual Feeders
Feeding sows individually is an absolute must in group sow housing. It is the only way to track how much each sow is consuming and how each pig is progressing. By tracking how sows are eating and gaining weight, you are able to portion out the exact amount of feed each sow needs, and you are able to monitor pigs that are not progressing properly.
Individually feeding sows also reduces the girls' stress as they are eating. This helps reduce digestive issues and overall stress, which ultimately increases sow productivity.
4. Sow Weight Monitoring Scales
Monitoring sow weights is essential in detecting health issues and keeping the pigs on track. By implementing scales into the Electronic Sow Feeding system, you are able to track weights daily. By collecting this data, you are able to keep track of the health of each sow, enabling you to react as soon as something is wrong.
5. Data Collection Software
Open sow housing units have been scrutinized in the past for being inefficient and costly. This is where a strong data collection system comes in. By collecting data on each sow (weight, feed intake, feed times, pregnancy, heat detection, etc.), you are able know the status of each pig at any point. Implementing data collection software enables you to track a pig's entire history in a barn.
This not only helps you adjust your current actions, for example adjusting a feed ration for a specific pig, but you are also able to analyze your long-term data to determine what is operating efficiently and what isn't. With proper data collection software, you are able to cut your feed costs by feeding sows the appropriate amount and make your barn operations more efficient by analyzing collected data.
With an open gestating pen design and electronic sow feeders, nearly all of your barn operations can be automated. Most of the automation is built into the feeding stations, which can do almost everything but vaccinate and preg-test your sows. But the stations are built including auto-sorters that make vaccination and preg-testing easier. The system will identify the sows you need to vaccinate or preg-test that day, and it will sort them out into a holding pen.
If you have any questions on group sow housing, don't be afraid to contact us! We are happy to talk through sow housing options, barn equipment, and how we develop our pig barn plans.