Saturday, February 14, 2009

Portable Swine Farrowing Buildings...

Here I go once again ... I'm looking for some advice or some first had experience when it comes to farming. This time I am specifically looking for information regarding outdoor farrowing in portable huts. I'm interested in everything from portable huts for sale to building plans for portable huts. I just want something that is good at keeping everyone snug as a bug in a rug ... If you know what I mean!

But, before I hear your thoughts on the subject I will share a few plans that I have come across through a bit of online research:
  • E-Hut Plans: This one is number one on my list because it is from a Practical Farmers of Iowa member and they are using it in my home state. The link includes building plans and pictures of them out in the "wild".
  • Niche Pork Production: This is a .pdf file of a publication that may or may not be from Iowa State. It has some more permanent structures, but if you scroll down it includes some more plans very similar to the E-Hut.
  • Port-A-Hut: These metal structures are made right here in Iowa and we have been using one of their huts since we got our first pigs. They are nice little huts, but some might like the flexibility of building their own.
  • Raising Pigs on Pasture: This is a nice little publication from SARE that includes some on farm research from folks that pasture farrow. No building plans really, but some good information.
  • Outdoor Pig Production: Another good article that has information and pictures of various types of huts. Everything from homemade to plastic to metal.
  • Portable Farrowing Houses: The last link here is from the Midwest Plan Service (online) and includes some basic plans for a few different types of houses.

17 comments:

Rich said...

Even though I'm not familiar with farrowing crates, I would have more confidence following a set of plans that had detailed the "why" behind its design (like the e-hut plans).

On a related note, did you notice some of the details about crop rotations in some of your links?

Raising Pigs on Pasture has: "...Tom Frantzen grazes his gestating sows in permanent paddocks in the warm season. He plants corn alongside strips of pasture, partly to provide shade or act as a windbreak. Sows about to farrow graze on corn, oats and clover strips..."

I assume this means that he plants narrow strips and each paddock contains all three forages at the same time?

And Port-A-Hut has an explanation of their crop rotation: "...3 year rotation in the operation. The first year is sows farrowing on alfalfa. The second year corn, to get the advantage of manure that was spread with no labor or equipment cost to you. The third year oats are seeded down. The fourth year back to sows and pigs. On flat or poorly drained land, you should put in permanent ridges when you are plowing for the corn crop. We use a moldboard plow and make a head land and a dead furrow every 30-40 feet...Placing huts on ridges will eliminate problems of heavy rain and extended wet conditions..."

It makes perfect sense that you would incorporate a broad-based terrace into a pasture used for farrowing, but it never really occurred to me until I read this particular description of plowing.

I also didn't realize that it was so common (or even desirable) to include alfalfa in a farrowing/crop rotation, in one of these links it also stated that the alfalfa can increase the fertility of your sows in addition to providing a high-quality forage. I wonder if using alfalfa hay for bedding in the farrowing huts (or fed as a supplement) would also be beneficial to the sow's health and/or fertility?

Rich said...

This might not be entirely relevant to the subject of farrowing huts, but there is a study about using small hoop structures to raise pigs at:

http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/reports/99swinereports/asl-1684.pdf

I had the thought that something similar could be used for a deep-bedded feeding/loafing area for cattle during the winter, then it could also serve as a farrowing area for a few sows in the summer after it was cleaned out in the spring. It would function as a modified Swedish deep-bed system with farrowing huts located inside the deep bedded hoop but with access to four individual paddocks on each end.

Rich said...

Oops, I meant farrowing huts, not farrowing crates in my comments. I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I think there is no significant difference between a crate and a hut.

Jena said...

Sorry can't add much here. We are considering the larger Port-A-Huts for portable cattle and horse shelters. My concern is the high cost per sq. ft. compared to a permanent structure, and whether the benefit of being portable is worth the difference to us right now. Make sure you weigh the cost of your different options, I guess that's what I can offer for advice!

Angie said...

My pigs farrow in pasture, i build huts out of our old concrete mono-form panels. I just nail them together, making them a 10x10 square, i use them because that's what i have. I'm not going to dump a bunch of $$ into them. Your pigs need nothing fancy, anything on skids will work.

Rich, if you used alfalfa for bedding, they wouldn't have any bedding! Mine eat their wheat and rye straw, and it is very course, bet they'd love alfalfa!

Ethan Book said...

Rich - That is some good stuff about the crop rotations. The Frantzen family that is mentioned a few times seems like they have things down to pattern that works great for Iowa. I am going to see if I can get some details on his corn strips.

As to the alfalfa for pigs ... they love it and they can handle it straight because they aren't ruminants.

The hoop buildings are becoming more and more popular here in Iowa for deep bedding. Everything from chickens to pigs to cattle like you mentioned.

Thanks for the comments!

Rich said...

There is some information about Frantzen's strip grazing method in an online posting of an article from the early '90's at:

http://www.awionline.org/farm/frantzen.html

This excerpt from the article explains part of his method,

"...In April, he planted about 1.5 acres in alternating four-row strips of 85-day corn and a mix of milo and Canada field peas. The sows farrowed on 3 acres of oats, peas, turnips and rape. In mid-August, when the corn was well-dented and the farrowing pasture grazed down, Frantzen used temporary fence to strip graze the corn, milo and peas. He moved the fence forward eight rows at a time, giving the stock about a quarter-acre of fresh feed..."

At the bottom of the page, there is a reference to more information on Tom Frantzen's practices in an article in the Feb. '91 issue of New Farm entitled "Strips Boost Yields, Save Soil"

Ethan Book said...

Rich - Thanks for the link. I gotta admit that I'm getting more and more excited about pigs everyday ... just don't tell my dad!

Ryan NW IA said...

Has anyone seen plans or know anything about the "pig-saver" farrowing huts? From that studies that I have seen that IA State and others have done it has been the best hut to reduce pig crushing. Modified A frame was also up there and looks good to me but I can't seem to find anything on the "pig-saver" farrowing huts.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/SA9.pdf

Ethan Book said...

Ryan - I'm not completely sure, but those sure look like the Smidley Huts to me. It is just a guess, but they my have a little divider in the back that gives a place for the pigs to go.

You can check out the link to Smidley here:

http://www.marting.com/

Ryan said...

Ethan- Thanks! I think you are correct, those do look like Smidley Huts.

bstrick said...

I've been looking for farrowing hut plans too. I found this picture of one that shows a design like the smidley without a floor. http://www.valuechains.org/pnmwg/projects_reports/farrowingingreenhouse_6-16-04.pdf

Ryan said...

The crushing rates in that report were really high! They heated the floor but did not have any zone heating to draw the pigs away from the sow. Seems like having a creep area and some heat source to draw the pigs away from the sow is the only way to keep those crushing rates down. The best I think I have seen included heat in the cement but it was only on each side of the sow and in the creep area so it drew the pigs away so they did not get crushed. Also, when the sow is comfortable she moves around less and is more responsive. I think I heard the sow's comfort zone is around 60 degrees and the pigs around 90 degrees so getting a small area like a farrowing hut that can provide these zones for the sows and pigs is difficult.

Sherry said...

Thanks for referencing our publication, "Niche Pork Production, Housing Options, IPIC NPP220, 2007." I want to assure you that it is indeed is from Iowa State University. Mark Honeyman is an animal science professor, Pete Lammers is a Ph.D. animal science student, and Dave Stender is an ISU Extension swine field specialist.

This specific publications is one part of the complete publication, "Niche Pork Production." The entire publication and each individual portion is available on our Iowa Pork Industry Center Web site at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/publications.html

Sherry said...

Thanks for referencing our publication, "Niche Pork Production, Housing Options, IPIC NPP220, 2007." I want to assure you that it is indeed is from Iowa State University. Mark Honeyman is an animal science professor, Pete Lammers is a Ph.D. animal science student, and Dave Stender is an ISU Extension swine field specialist.

This specific publications is one part of the complete publication, "Niche Pork Production." The entire publication and each individual portion is available on our Iowa Pork Industry Center Web site at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/publications.html

Sherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Portable Buildings said...

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