Hoffman/Drake Farms began raising weaned pigs on the home farm in 2000 with the construction of two 2,000-head nurseries. This year another nursery and another generation to the family operation was added, EMH Farms.
Located outside of Kirkland, IL, Ethan Hoffman recently joined his father, Dan Hoffman, and uncle, Scott Drake, in the family business, after constructing a 3,000-head nursery building.
"Hog Slat built our original nurseries over 20 years ago. We wanted to keep what has worked well for us in the past while incorporating some new features and technology to improve pig performance and reduce maintenance," said Ethan Hoffman.
Hoffman continued, "We switched from nipple drinkers to AquaChief cups to reduce water wastage. We also mounted the cups on the back wall to prevent rusting on the gates. To aid in getting pigs off to a fast start, we added extra water and feeder spaces."
"The controller is a big upgrade from our earlier nurseries," said Hoffman. “The Maximus allows us to monitor the amount of feed and water consumed and check the building environment remotely. The controller also enabled us to add night lights to each room. The lights turn on from 9 PM – 1 AM for 15 minutes each hour to make sure pigs get up to eat and drink during the night," Hoffman added.
One thing that didn't change much was the ventilation system. A 14-inch pit fan runs continuously, pulling winter minimum air in through two 10-inch PVC tubes. As additional fans stage on increasing static pressure, hallway inlets open to bring more air from the hallway. Air enters the hallway through roll-up curtains on the outside wall.
"The rafters and nail plates in our original nurseries are in great shape even after 20 years of operation," said Hoffman. "We contribute a lot of that to not having any inlets or ventilation openings in the ceiling. All the air enters through the sidewalls with no chance for leakage back into the attic."
"A big advantage of working with Hog Slat on this project was the service. We have a good relationship with the site supervisor, Tim Whiting, and our salesman Jason Billings. Hog Slat was able to customize this barn to meet our needs," said Hoffman.
CLICK to watch a video tour of this facility.