Time Savers in the Hog World

Dr. Cameron Schmitt

Cutting corners in any aspect of life/work typically has implications at later points in time.  Similarly in pork production, we see “planting disease” in the spring and  “harvesting disease” in the fall.  As your schedule gets tight this planting season, here are some tips to help you be more time efficient in the barn, rather than skipping important tasks.

  1. Barn preparation – If you happen to be receiving pigs during planting season, hire a 3rd party wash crew.  Be sure to inspect the job that is being done while the washers are present to ensure a proper job is being done.  Common rates/space are $0.35-$0.45/space.
  2. Records – Records are a requirement, but often do not get filled out during busy times.  Organize your daily record sheets into a single form and carry that on a clip board as you walk the barn to reduce multiple trips back and forth to accumulate information.
  3. Treating – A treat belt or treat tray with all the materials you potentially need to chore the barn.  In the treat tray, you should have the appropriate antibiotic, syringe, needles, record clip board, pliers, and bolt gun.feed
  4. Feeding – Feeding systems are largely automatic during the feeding period, but during start-up of weaned pigs, early diets are commonly bagged.  Purchase a small feed cart for the alleyway of the barn that can be used to empty bags into for mat feeding – be sure to only fill the cart with 1 day of feed to keep starter diets fresh.
  5. Water – Get a water meter and check/record the daily volume used by the barn every day.  Commonly, pigs will reduce their water intake by 10-20% before they show clinical signs of disease.  This will help you recognize a problem in some cases as much as 3 days before a problem exists.
  6. Sorting – Sorting market pigs prior to marketing can be done if your pen design allows it.  Off-feed pre-sorting can be used to save loading time when the truck arrives and can be done at a time of day when additional labor is available.  Pigs from multiple pens should not be mixed as fighting can occur.  Off feed pre-sorting has additional benefits such as improved carcass yield and decreased deads and subs at the plant.
  7. Loading – Good lighting and proper air flow can make huge differences in the time and stress of loading.  Adding additional lights to load out chutes to reduce/eliminate shadows should be done.  Pigs do not like to move with a head wind.  Set your ventilation appropriately so they have a tail wind during loading.
  8. Set up ventilation correctly – Your ventilation system is extremely critical to the health and performance of your pigs.  Temperature swings in spring and fall make the system do the most work of the year.  Setting it correctly (making changes from winter settings) are often forgotten until it’s too late and are the most common root cause for “planting disease”.  Make those changes now rather than finding them in June.
  9. Ask for help – If you would like help preparing your site(s) for planting time, give us a call.  We would be glad to go through these items more thoroughly with you and may identify other areas that are specific to your site that may make you more time efficient.You can contact Dr. Cameron Schmitt at Pipestone Veterinary Services at 319.327.0566 or cschmitt@pipevet.com.