Here's a peek at three
operations that have recently made the move to use wean-to-finish
New Buildings, Large Pens
Illini Grain and Livestock recently expanded its
sow herd capacity by converting existing finishing barns into gestation
facilities and nurseries into farrowing barns. Original plans at
the Butler, IL, operation called for a new nursery and new finishers
to handle the herd's expanded production. But when Illini owner-operator
John Rundquist heard about the performance and labor advantages
of wean-to-finish, his thinking shifted.
Instead of constructing separate nurseries and
finishers, Rundquist opted to build two new 1,000-head wean-to-finish
barns. He also opted to use large pens, which Rundquist says he
hopes will enhance the social environment within the pens. Each
barn contains nine 100-head pens and two 50-head pens.
One of the theories of large pen size is that
when one or two pigs are separated out of the pen, you won't impact
the social order as much as with smaller pens.
The new barns are 40' wide x 200' long, built
with total concrete slats and shallow, pull-plug type pits. Ventilation
is provided by a combination of tunnel fans and curtains. As shown
in the drawing on this page, a three-foot alleyway is situated along
one side of the barn, creating 37' deep pens. One Farmweld Jumbo
Feeder (five-hole) serves as an island in the center of each pen,
with four Farmweld DRIK-0-MAT® Wean-to-finish Water Cups installed
near each feeder. Brooder-type infrared heaters supply zone heating
to supplement forced-air heaters.
||John Rundquist (L)
and employee Kenny Bergschneider.
Observations so far: A keen eye is required to
inspect pigs in the super deep pens, compared to smaller pens. "You
have to be a lot more careful to see all of the pigs, every day,"
No Added Labor
Rich Pork Farm, Deer Creek, IL, wanted to handle
more production from its 750-sow farrowing unit without adding more
employees. The operation recently completed construction on two
new barns, with some built-in flexibility. One barn is a single
room facility devoted to total wean-to-finish. The other building
is split into two rooms, one for wean-to-finish and one for traditional
finishing, which combines well with Rich Pork's existing nurseries.
The new buildings were designed with center alleyways and double
curtains. Infrared tube heaters are installed in the wean-to-finish
rooms. All rooms house 600 pigs, which are divided by side for split-sex
Both barns are 51'wide, which Bryan Hoffman says
will allow them to be easily converted in the future. "Eventually
they'll be used for gestation barns," says Hoff-man, Rich Pork's
farm manager. Equipment includes dry feeders and Farmweld DRIK-0-MAT®
Wean-to-finish Water Cups, which were installed to conserve waste
water, according to Hoffman. "Less manure means less to haul," he
says. "And that's a big plus."
Observations so far: Hoffman says wean-to-finish
allows the operation to produce more without overburdening the operation's
three full-time employees. Hoffman estimates wean-to-finish saves
the operation two days per building per production cycle.
Impressed by simplicity, performance
Doug Schilling, a partner with Eden Stock Farm,
Upper Sandusky, OH, is impressed with the simplicity and performance
advantages offered by wean-to-finish. Schilling and his father flow
about half of their total production through wean-to-finish barns,
and half through traditional nurseries and finishers.
They've converted 1,200 finish spaces in four
room in naturrally ventilated finishing barns to wean-to-finish
by adding comfort mats and brooder-type infrared heaters. They also
installed Farmweld DRIK-0-MAT® Wean-to-finish Water Cups after
repeatedly seeing trouble with nipple waterers.
"We'd always see some gaunt pigs," says Schilling.
"It appeared like they weren't eating, but when we looked a little
closer, we found it was that they weren't learning to use the nipple."
He says the water cups have worked much better. "Because there is
water in the cup, the pigs can find it even if they haven't yet
learned to push the nipple."
Eden will also soon flow some of its production
into new wean-to-finish facilities at a contract site.
Observations so far: Schilling says he
was surprised at how cool you can keep the barns when using infrared
heat, and still provide a comfortable, warm zone for baby pigs.
"The barn can stay at 65-70 degrees but the pig spaces will be 85-90
degrees," says Schilling.
Schilling also says there's a bit of adjustment
required when it comes to managing pig flow, especially if you are
using both wean-to-finish and nurseries for one sow unit. Schilling,
who has been working with colleagues at the Producers' Livestock
Association to develop QuickPig® swine enterprise analysis software,
says you've got to get used to planning for two different production
cycles a 7- to 8-week cycle for the nurseries and a 25-week
cycle for wean-to-finish. "That can be quite a challenge," he says.