Preparing Your Barns for Spring

Dr. Adam Schelkopf

Spring is usually a very positive time in the swine industry—a time when Midwestern producers dewinterize and thaw out their barns after being in a deep freeze for several months. It’s also an important time to verify that a few key components of our barns function properly in order to provide the best environment for our pigs.

Here’s a list of those key things:

  • Fans
  • Curtains
  • Controllers
  • Soffits
  • Inlets

Fans – As spring approaches, it will be time to remove plastic or other winterizing material from fans. Fan mechanisms can freeze up in cold winter. As you prepare your fans for spring, make sure they are all turned on and functioning properly.

Curtains – Similarly, you will probably be removing insulation from the curtains. As you do, examine the curtains for damage that requires repair and test the emergency drop mechanisms if present.

controllerControllers – It is good practice to verify that all settings are correct on your controllers, as often these settings are altered during winter. Manually test the fan stages to ensure they are functioning properly as you work through controller settings.

Soffits – If you’ve closed soffits during winter, make sure to open them again in the spring to allow for proper attic airflow.

Inlets – It is also good practice to manually reset all inlets and verify that inlet openings are consistent throughout the barn. Inlets often freeze during winter, and they can get out of adjustment.

Other springtime activities
As we get into spring, always focus on biosecurity, making sure rodent bait stations are filled and properly distributed around the barn. Establish a good biosecurity perimeter, free of weeds and grass.

When is the best time to prepare your barn for spring? Well, obviously, when the forecast indicates we may see warmer temperatures, indicating that additional ventilation will be required. Hopefully, after a long winter, those temperatures are already in the forecast.

If you pump manure or hire someone to pump in the springtime, be sure you have good ventilation prior to beginning this process. See Marty Rost’s story on Manure Pumping Safety.

If you have any questions about preparing your barn for spring or best biosecurity practices, be sure to contact your Pipestone veterinarian.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Schelkopf grew up in Dekalb, IL, and gained an appreciation for swine medicine by following his father to vet calls and working on swine farms through high school and college. He earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois in 2012. Dr. Schelkopf started his career with Pipestone in June of 2012, focusing on the fields of swine medicine and production.