Farrowing area design ideas

 

The following basic principles in a standard farrowing house:

 

Room temperature

The room should be designed to be able to be run at 16-18°C where possible.  Obviously in the summer this is going to be extremely difficult.  However, the temperature of the farrowing house is a major determinant of feed intake.  I know that we have discussed an air conditioned farrowing house.  An alternative would be evaporately controlled.

 

Piglet temperature

The piglets on the other hand need to be kept at 30°C (ambient temperature).  Heat mats are preferred but this demands a draught free farrowing house (which should happen anyway).  A major cause of scouring in piglets is draughts.   A double heat mat which can provide heat for two litters is suggested – so they can be combined at day 14.  Ensure that the walls between farrowing crates are easily removed.

 

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Heat mat allows the stockperson to easily see the pigs

Which is much better than the simple unheated mat and creep lights even when the piglets are protected with an enclosed creep.

 

Feeding lactating sows

Lactation feed intake is essential to maximize weaning weights and minimize wean to service interval.  It is essential therefore to control another two components of lactation feed intake – quantity of feed – therefore we will need a large feed trough – capable of taking at least 5 kg and a lot of water – both with a good nipple/water stop and a means of providing water manually.   Sows need 40-60 litres of water a day at peak lactation.  With the angled crates I have seen some farms utilise these with two sow heads coming together and encourage competitive feeding.

 

Whatever system you pick, I think it is essential to be able to get to the sow’s head, as much to feed and clean feeder but also to check the water supplies at least once a day.

 

Type of crate

I have mixed feelings about a variety of crates and have seen many come and go. Basically I think a simple crate is fine as long as none of the bars get in the way of the piglet’s feeding.

 

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A variety of farrowing crate layouts

 

Flooring

A totally slatted floor is prefered.  There are many designs where the sow’s area is raised by 5 cm to allow better access to the lower teats.  The piglet area should be solid in the sleeping area otherwise slatted which has one good characteristic - that it is easy to clean.  Plastic covered metal (tenderfoot) has proven popular.

 

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Flooring patterns in the farrowing area – the flooring on the right is the tenderfoot floor.