Get ready: Winter is on the way

Posted on November 7, 2013 in Swine Performance
By Spencer Jones

Winter is drawing near and that means that pork production operations have quite a few projects to check off the list before the snow falls.  As we’re busy wrapping up harvest, it’s easy to overlook the simple things.  Let’s take just a couple of moments to brush up on some of the basics of fall projects.

Pumping manure pits
With the crops harvested, many of you are getting ready to apply manure to your land.  As you’re agitating and pumping the pits, make air quality a top priority.  Ideally, it’s best to pump pits when barns are empty.  However, when you’re up against Mother Nature’s clock, that isn’t always possible.

If you have animals in the barn, make sure to maintain adequate airflow throughout the agitating and pumping process.  Turn on your pit fans or barn fans and, if temperatures allow it, open the curtains to increase air movement.  A lack of airflow could lead to too much airborne ammonia or other harmful gases, which can cause sick pigs or worse.  Obviously, maintaining safe air quality is vitally important to you and your employees as well.

Managing curtains
Opening curtains certainly improves air quality.  But as temperatures get cold, curtains will need to be closed to provide optimal temperatures for the pigs.  Younger pigs need temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees to thrive, so barns holding young animals should be the first to have their curtains closed.

As your curtains are closed, take a few minutes to inspect them and make sure they’re still in good condition.  Holes in curtains may allow birds or other pests to enter your barns, and these invaders may potentially bring pathogens with them.  Keeping out pests can help you keep out disease.

As you’re pumping pits and getting ready for winter, the farm often has a lot of visitors who aren’t typically on the grounds.  Nonetheless, you need to make sure these visitors adhere to your biosecurity protocols.  Maintain your clean-dirty line.  Regardless of the work being done, make sure all workers keep their outside clothes outside and wear clean boots and clothing inside the barns.

Use outside resources
Don’t hesitate to call on your Vita Plus team to lend an extra set of eyes on your operation.  When consultants visit your farm, ask them to take a couple of minutes to evaluate these different areas and see if they spot anything that needs improvement.  Outside consultants can also share practical tips they’ve seen work on other operations.

About the author:  Spencer Jones joined the Vita Plus team in 2011 and works as a beef and swine territory manager.  He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from Kansas State University.  Jones grew up showing hogs and steers for 4-H and working on a beef feedlot.  He is a member of ASAS, American Angus Association, Iowa Angus Association and Iowa Cattleman’s Association.  Jones lives in Kansas with his wife of five years, Cassie, and their son, Ty.

Category: Facility design
Swine Performance