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Blog posts of '2017' 'December'

Solid sidewall finishers growing trend in new construction


For the last 20-plus years, the industry standard for finishing houses has been some variation of a total slat, double-curtain building design. This style of construction utilized lower cost curtain construction on the sidewalls.   As the design migrated north, some of the earliest adaptions to the buildings consisted of adding insulation to the sidewalls. Producers and builders used insulated or heavier weight curtains, removable bubble foil insulation and even eliminated the north curtain altogether replacing it with a solid insulated wall.   A growing trend in new construction has seen a move away from curtain-sided finishing buildings. Several key factors have driven this movement to totally enclosed structures for finishing hogs.

    Thermal-images Heat savings. Replacing the sidewall curtains with high R-value insulated, solid wall can significantly reduce the amount of heat needed when starting pigs. A simple heat loss comparison of a 200-foot exterior wall pointed to savings of up to 0.25 gallons of propane per hour. This building loss calculation also did not take into account the amount of heat needed to counter cold air leaks through tears or holes in the curtain or infiltration around the edges.

Solid wall ext_1540x800

Improved minimum ventilation.
The winter fans create a negative pressure inside the building drawing air from outside. Since even the best installed and maintained curtains are not airtight, cold outside air leaks in from around the curtains instead of entering through the ceiling inlets. Solid sidewalls eliminate curtain air leaks, so all the air comes through the ceiling inlets at a higher velocity. This cold, high-velocity air mixes with warmer room air near the ceiling before it swirls to pig level.  

Reduced maintenance.
With no curtains, hardware or curtain machines to repair or replace, producers can eliminate the annual fall maintenance program saving time and money during the busy harvest season.  

Improvements in fail-safe protection. Sidewall curtains provide fail-safe protection against power outages. A simple curtain drop device connected to the winch handle allows the curtains to drop down to prevent suffocation.   In practice, this system many times does not function as intended because of poor repair and maintenance. Advanced alarm system technology linked to environmental controls alert barn operators almost immediately of power outages or drastic room temperature changes.


Several producers have remodeled existing curtain-sided buildings into solid sidewalls after seeing the benefits.   The conversion is relatively straightforward with extra 2x6 studs added to the sidewall framing, exterior steel siding, 6-inch batt insulation and interior wall covering of plywood, Fiber Reinforced Plastic, poly board or metal siding.  For interior panels in animal contact areas, do not allow the panel edge to extend over the concrete wall and cover all panel joints with aluminum batten strips.    

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Your next livestock medicator should be electric


It is a standard production practice to use water driven medicators to administer medications, vaccines, and supplements to livestock and poultry.  With good water quality and routine maintenance, virtually all brands of water driven medicators do an excellent job of accurately delivering the correct dosages.  

Poor water quality causes most of the problems producers experience when using this type of injection equipment.   Water with high levels of dissolved chemicals (hard water) and impurities like sand and scale, can cause damage to seals, plungers, and pistons. Also, as some producers have moved to ABF production, chemicals used for water treatment have proved particularly corrosive to the moving parts of water driven medicators.


Electric pumps used in the water treatment industry have proved effective in overcoming the problems with water quality and harsh chemicals.   Drinking water does not travel through the pump; instead, it receives a signal from an in-line water meter. Based on the water flow passing through the meter, the electric pump injects accurate dosages from the stock tank directly into the water line.  


The primary electric medicator currently in use for livestock and poultry production is the peristaltic pump. Peristaltic pumps use a roller device to squeeze stock solution through a hose or tube. The primary wear part is inexpensive tube kit that is easy to replace. Peristaltic pumps are excellent at delivering accurate dosages at low water flows, typical when starting new flock or group.  See Stennicator


Another type of electric pump uses a molded PTFE or Teflon diaphragm to dose chemicals. The Teflon diaphragm features excellent chemical resistance. Wear is virtually nonexistent on this part as the pumping movement amounts to only about 1/8" of flex. Diaphragm pumps handle low flows exceptionally well and also provide accurate metering at higher flows typically found at the end of a grow out period.  

The direct injection design of electric medicators allows operation in poor water conditions that damage water driven medicators.  

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Medicator aids show pig production


Adding a water-based medicator adds flexibility to your management options.   It's easier and quicker to switch medications and supplements in the water compared to using feed additives. Also, sick animals will drink water even if they aren't eating well.  


Most show pig producers with more than a few pigs have automated their water supply by installing a water line and either nipple or cup drinkers in each pen.   Plumbing a medicator into this water system is relatively straightforward.   Start by installing a ball valve in the PVC pipe and plumbing a by-pass to direct incoming water through the medicator. The by-pass can be constructed of PVC pipe with ball valves, or an alternative method uses hose bibs with 5/8" drinker hose.   This alternative method is ideal for use in multiple locations, simply remove the hoses, detach the unit from the wall and move the whole assembly to the next barn.       To use the medicator, dry powders or liquid concentrates are dissolved in water (according to package directions) creating a stock solution. The suction hose from the medicator is placed in the stock tank (typically a 5-gallon bucket). The water flow from the drinking system passes through the medicator, drawing solution from the stock tank and mixing the stock solution into the pig’s drinking water.  


The Dosatron DM11F medicator is one of the best choices for use with show pig herds. Because it is water powered, it requires no electricity to use, making it easy to move.   The DM11F automatically compensates for changing water flows and pressures providing consistent, repeatable dosing.   Its diaphragm water motor also enables the DM11F to operate at water flows as low as .02 gallons per minute. The ability to accurately dose at low flow rates is vital with young pigs and smaller group sizes.   To learn more about the DM11F medicator click here

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Bait stations improve rodent control


The use of bait stations improves the effectiveness of any rodent control program. Stations protect baits from rain and dirt, helping the rodenticides stay fresh and potent longer while providing security against access from children and pets. Bait stations also provide an environment where rats and mice feel secure when feeding on baits.

Bait Placement

Rodents are creatures of habit and travel along established paths between their nests and food supply. They will not go out of their way to visit bait stations outside their normal traffic areas. Look for signs of rodent activity such as droppings, tracks and gnawing to locate pathways. Place mouse stations 10-13 feet apart as mice seldom venture more than 50 feet from their nests. Rats range much farther afield allowing station placement to be between 25 and 50 feet apart.


Do not use mouse stations when rats are present as the bigger rodents will gnaw through the thinner plastic and expose the baits. Consider using white colored bait stations for those locations on the south exposure of buildings. The interior temperature of black colored stations can increase by as much as 30° which may melt some bait formulations.

T Station

Securely fasten stations to walls or floors to prevent them from being moved out of the traffic pathway. Use tent stakes to anchor bait stations to the ground for exterior placement. T-style stations are very versatile in their applications. Nylon ties are used to fasten them to gate rails, rafters, and even feed pipes.

Check bait stations on a monthly basis as part of the routine barn maintenance program adding fresh bait as needed. Rodents will often refuse to eat spoiled or stale bait. Observe the condition of the stations themselves as plastic can become brittle, especially the lid hinge. Stations with rotating hinges will outlast models with thin bendable strips of plastic called living hinges. During periods of heavy infestation, it may be necessary to check daily to ensure an adequate supply of bait. Stations are available with clear lids to allow a visual check of bait levels without opening the lid.

It is important to be patient when dealing with rat infestations. Rats are suspicious of new objects in their territory, and it may be several weeks before they use a new bait station. Leave stations in place even after a heavy infestation is under control. Rats are more likely to enter bait stations that have become part of the "terrain" when baiting occurs in following seasons.

Go to bait stations for pricing and ordering information.  

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