|Working on my Uncle's new|
Pro-Tec hoop building
In case you missed it, I wrote last Wednesday about the "Tipping Point" that the farm was at and whether it was time to scale up or scale back. My gut is telling me to press forward, but from the past four years of experience I know there are some areas that I need to greatly improve if I want to scale up. One of the most glaring is my winter livestock handling and more precisely the winter pig farrowing. In a perfect world I just wouldn't farrow in the middle of the winter, but I need finished pigs ready for processing throughout the year so winter farrowing is always going to be part of the farm.
So ... for my needs and uses I believe it is time for me to put up a hoop building to use in the winter months. My plan is to continue things as normal in the spring, summer, and fall with the pigs out on the pasture and woodlot. When things turn cold, muddy, and frozen I will bring the pigs up near the house so that I can ensure they have fresh water and plenty of feed at all times ... along with a place to get out of the weather. That is where the hoop house comes into play, and I plan on my building doing double duty.
The buildings that I have been looking at so far are from Pro-Tec and Silver Stream. If I went with a Pro-Tec building it would either be 30' or 36' wide. The Silver Stream building would be 30' wide for sure. The idea that I have is to split the building down the middle length wise so that I either two 15' wide areas or two 18' wide areas. Then I can use one side of the building for farrowing in the winter and the other side for my grower pigs. With that set up in the hoop building I will then be able to use my portable sheds to hold the boar and gestating sows.
Right now I'm planning on four groups of four sows each next winter, so that will give me plenty of room for farrowing (depending on the overall length of the building). One of the great benefits of the hoop house when it comes to farrowing is that I will be able to bring my huts inside and use them for farrowing just as I would in the summer. I believe a set-up like this will help me get the most use out of a building for an operation my size and then allow me room for growth.
The biggest downside that I have been struggling with is that the building will be sitting empty for a portion of the year and I hate the thought of that. So ... if anyone has any thoughts on a crop that I could raise in there during the summer months I would love to hear about it! Also, have any of you put up a hoop building ... any tips or thoughts?