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Blog posts of '2016' 'August'

Dedicated feed line boosts flock performance
Dedicated Feed Line in lowered in brood area.

Dedicated chick  line with Hi-Grow feeders.


“Several years ago we came up with the idea of installing a dedicated feed line in the brood area to add extra feeder space and reduce hand filling, “explained Georgia producer, Jacob Williams.

Hi-Grow feeders installed on main feed lines between GrowerSELECT pans.

Hi-Grow feeders installed on main feed lines between GrowerSELECT Classic Flood pans.


“Although we added additional feed drops and feeders between the pans on the main lines, we still didn’t meet our integrators requirement for enough extra feed spaces in the brood area. In the past, this meant we placed additional feeders or trays between the lines and had to fill them by hand.” continued Jacob.


Circle W Ranch with Eight Jumbo Broiler Houses near Everett Sprs., GA.

Eight broiler houses at Circle W Ranch near Everett Springs., GA.


Jacob along with his brothers, Adam, Michael and their families own Circle W Ranch, located near Everett Springs, GA. Circle W Ranch recently constructed eight 66’x 600′ broiler houses each holding approximately 54,000 birds.


Dedicated starter line in raised position with feeders attached

Black arrow highlighting dedicated feed line in the raised position.


The 290′ long feed line with 124 Hi-Grow feeders is located in the middle of the brood area. Constructed of plastic, the 10-pound capacity feeders reduce wastage compared to standard trays or paper. After providing the additional feeder space for ten days, the entire line is winched up out of the way along with the feeders.


“We have to gather up the Hi-Grow feeders under the main lines and store them when we are done brooding,” said Jacob, “Being able to store the pans right on the feed line when we winch it up is another great feature.”


“Having the dedicated chick line fill automatically not only saves labor but frankly, just does a better job than we can do by hand,” noted Jacob, “You know how it goes; you get busy, and feeders don’t get filled up right away, and you have empty hoppers. You just don’t see that happening with a dedicated line; that means we start with a more uniform flock and get better performance at close out.”

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New Feeders Prove Effective Way to Lower Costs


“Our old feeders just weren’t allowing us to compete with some of the newer barns around the area. Our very first flock with new Classic Flood feeders settled at # 1″, explained Exeter, MO grower, C.L. England.

“We felt like changing out the feeders in our 29-year old buildings was a cost effective way to lower our production costs. We proved that out with .2  improvement in feed conversion on the first flock.”

“One of the biggest factors is probably the flood feature of the new pans. With our old pans, we had to hand-fill feeders with extra feed when starting a flock. With the Classic Flood feeders, we just drop the feeders and the pans fill with feed automatically. Getting extra feed into the chicks at the start makes a big difference at settlement.”

“I’m pleased we made the change as it appears it’s an investment that will pay us back quickly,” said C.L.

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Hog-O-Matic Finishing Floors

Not every labor saving idea for swine confinement lasted much past the initial development phase. From the 1960 Yearbook of Agriculture, we present the HOG-O-MATIC!



This automatic hog finishing facility – dubbed “Hog-O-Matic” – is equipped to feed the pigs and clean the floor under fully automatic control. Cleaning is done (below) with two jets of water under 70 pounds of pressure. The revolving boom circles the 21.5- foot exercise area every 2.5 minutes. A 4-inch center drain carries the wastes away.


High-Pressure Water Jets clean pen floor

A good idea in theory for the time, but it is likely this system would not work well with sub-zero temperatures during a typical Midwestern winter.  Here’s a more typical finishing floor from the early confinement years.


Reverse mono-slope finishing floors with rear access alley.

Hogs are housed in clean, airy, efficient buildings. The picture above shows one of the many new types of confinement housing during this time period. Raising hogs in confined quarters is a growing practice. The farmer designed this pen arrangement (below) with the plan of finishing two-thousand hogs per year. 


Labor-saving equipment included automatic watering and feeders filled with an overhead auger.

From these early designs, the industry continued to develop into the improved feeding and ventilation systems we have today. GrowerSELECT feed systems and AirStorm ventilation fans offer today’s producers great equipment backed by the best warranty in the business. To learn more call us at 800-949-4674 or go online at

Interior view of Hog Slat finisher.

Interior view of a modern swine finisher constructed by Hog Slat.


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Hog Slat offers Additional Options for Swine Watering
Single and Double Welded Cups

Single and Double Welded Cups

Hog Slat highlighted an additional watering option for finishing pigs at the 2016 World Pork Expo. This all stainless steel welded cup is available in single and double models and designed with several features producers will appreciate.

Note formed gap in back plate

Note formed gap in back plate to prevent manure buildup.


The back plate of welded cup is formed with a gap off the gate to allow any manure accumulating there to be easily washed out. This prevents premature rusting of gate rods common with cups mounted back to back without this gap.

Two-piece water pipe.

Two-piece water pipe.


The unique design of the two-piece water pipe allows for easy replacement if it should ever become damaged or bent. The separate ½”x 48” long pipe installs into a female coupler on top of the cup. A specially designed bracket is included to mount the pipe to the top angle on a gate.


Mounting cups back to back is simple with four bolts or single cups can be mounted with a U-bolt around a horizontal gate bar.


To order go to, stop at a local Hog Slat store or call 800-949-4647.

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Larger sow farms drive move to larger buildings.

The size of individual sow farms continues to increase; just a few years ago 2,400 head units were considered large, but new sow farms under construction this year range between 5,000 to 14,000 head in size.

Building cross-section comparison

Building cross-section comparison

Designing the central production facility into two or three larger buildings has many advantages including smaller land requirements, less underground utilities to bring to the site, shorter roadways to build and maintain, fewer walkways between buildings and less linear footage of exterior building walls.

Because of increased pig capacities and the desire to minimize the number of buildings, it was necessary to increase the buildings widths up to 190 feet.  Instead of the 4/12-pitch roof used on standard farm buildings, these jumbo-wide facilities utilize a two-piece rafter with a 1/12-pitch roof line resting on a center support wall in the middle.  Almost 6 feet high at the heel with a center height of 13 feet, the rafters are designed more like a large floor joist. The outside appearance resembles a steel frame building more than conventional wood framed structures.

Breeding/ Gestation

Galvanized gestation stalls

Galvanized gestation stalls

Totally slatted flooring is a common feature of newly constructed B&G buildings. While past layouts consisted of a solid laying area with slat sections in the rear of the pen or stall only, new construction plans incorporate slats over the entire floor with stainless feeding troughs fastened in place. This arrangement allows long-term flexibility to reconfigure the pen layout in the future if needed.

Group housing with stanchions is the predominant type of housing under construction this year. Largely through trial and error, the industry seems to have settled into pen configurations containing eight to twelve sows. This pen size permits closer grouping by size and condition and promotes easier visual inspection.

Whether the production system chooses gestation stalls, stanchions, or ESF, most equipment is specified with hot-dipped galvanized equipment instead of painted finish. The extended equipment life provided by the galvanized finish makes this an economical business decision.

One advantage reported with stanchion systems is longer equipment life resulting from moving the water away from the front of the stanchions. Locating a cup or swinging water pipe with nipples in the center of the pen reduces the deterioration of feed pipes and stall fronts by minimizing water contact with these areas.


Large pen farrowing crates with SowMAX feeders

Large pen farrowing crates with SowMAX feeders

Jumbo style layouts permit designing a double farrowing building with an extra wide 8-foot center alleyway to aid in animal and people movement between rooms.

Almost every new construction project increases the length and width of the farrowing crates and creep area from the standard 5′ x 7′ footprint up to 6’ wide by 8′ long, with some systems choosing 8’6″ long crates. Longer framed sows and reduced piglet crushing rates from using wider pens have driven this trend. Again, the equipment will have a galvanized finish with a combination of cast iron, TriDek, or plastic slats for flooring choices.

Most production systems will incorporate some provision for ad-lib sow feeding. Besides reducing farm labor, ad-lib sow feeding is the most efficient method for feeding individual sows to reach full milk production potential. The type of systems can range from electronic transponder metering devices to sow activated hopper type feed dispensers.

Swining rafters on new farrowing house

Swinging rafters on new farrowing house

Projects of this size require builders with an expanded skill set. A builder must be able to provide professional project management, understanding of regulatory issues, and increased insurance coverage. It is also critical for any construction firm undertaking projects of this size to have sufficient financial backing and the ability to manage large cash flows.

For more information about Hog Slat’s construction projects and swine production equipment offerings, contact your nearest sales representative by clicking here.

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North Carolina Broiler Farm Retro Improves Performance
Rodney and Brett Bowden with new Airstorm 54" fan

Rodney and Brett Bowden with new Airstorm 54″ fan

To the best of my knowledge, when we built them in 1989, these were the first tunnel/natural ventilated houses constructed in the state,” explained Rodney Bowden at his family farm near Clinton, NC.  “We’ve always had good results in the buildings, but the recent upgrades have improved our performance.”

Rodney added two GrowerSELECT 54″ AirStorm fans per house to increase airspeed and reduce the ambient temperature.  The durable AirStorm 54″ fans feature a fiberglass housing, plastic shutters, and a stainless steel prop.

GrowerSELECT Classic Flood feed pans

GrowerSELECT Classic Flood feed pans

The next step in the upgrade was to replace the original feed pans with GrowerSELECT Classic Flood feeders. Rodney said, “Installing the new pans helps minimize wasted feed when the birds are young and has improved my feed conversion during grow out.”

Bowden-control-pan(web)These investments have paid off with an increased bird performance and helped Rodney settle in first place among his group several times since the upgrade.

Click GrowerSELECT for more information about our quality feeding and ventilation systems.  

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