Livestock Producers Can’t Shut Down
I’m so frustrated with D.C. Right now that I’m going back to talking about pigs instead of government!
I just refilled the barns I manage with a nice group of pigs that are about 10 weeks old. Any time you move a pig, there can be stress just like a person going to a new place. And just like with people, stress can make them more prone to sickness. Some pigs in this group had a bout of flu although the modern hog barns I use are very good at keeping the pigs comfortable. These pigs are getting better as they adjust to their new environment.
The ideal temperature is 75 degrees inside the hog barns. To get the buildings ready for the arrival of a new group of pigs, I set the computer to control the heat, fans, curtains and cool spray. I have eight of these computers, each costing about $1,000. Six of these computers have been replaced, and many of the switches and other controls get replaced as needed.
When I set the temperature at 75, the computer controller does many things. First of all, it turns on the heaters to bring up the temperature. It also turns on fans to keep fresh air flowing into and out of the buildings. “Minimum air fans” ensure there is always the right amount of fresh air no matter how hot or cold it is outside. As the temperature warms, the controller tells these fans to turn faster. When this isn’t enough air to keep the temperature in the barns constant, the second stage fans are turned on by the computer.
As the pigs grow bigger, they make more heat just like any living thing. The computers work to maintain the ideal temperature, so it starts opening curtains on the side of the buildings. On a warm summer day, the curtains serve as a big sunshade with a cool breeze blowing through. Many days this past summer, the pigs had the coolest place on the farm so it was more comfortable doing chores than spending time outside on the farm.
Also inside of these barns, there are additional fans that circulate the air. But we don’t stop there… the computer also controls the system that sprays a mist of cooling water on the pigs. Pigs can’t sweat ya know! The evaporation process moves heat energy away from the pig. This computer turns the water off and on as needed to let the pigs dry and cool. Neat huh?!
This entire system works in reverse as the building cools down: The cooling sprays stop. The circulation fans shut off. The curtains go back up, just a little at a time. The big fans turn off. As the building needs to warm up, the little fans slow down to the minimum that they need to turn to keep fresh air on the pigs. Finally, as the wind blows the snow into drifts outside, the heaters run inside to keep our pigs at a very constant temperature.
If the temperature gets outside the perimeters I set, or if the barns looses water pressure, I get a phone call. This “alarm system” works any time of the day – even on weekends and holidays! Pig comfort is always our priority. Yet, some people think we are mean by building barns that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to pamper our pigs!