New hog facility hosts open house

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Pipestone Regional Director Jon Randeris guides a tour-group through one of the housing barns that will hold sows waiting to give birth and those yet to be artificially inseminated. (Lucas Johnson/Democrat-News)

Pipestone Regional Director Jon Randeris guides a tour-group through one of the housing barns that will hold sows waiting to give birth and those yet to be artificially inseminated.

A new hog facility has been under construction north of Slater and will soon house thousands of swine within the farm.

The Pipestone System hosted an open house of the facility Friday, April 8, to go over the layout of the farm and to answer any questions visitors may have. The event featured tours through each stage of the farm and was divided into groups of a dozen or so. Pipestone Regional Director Jon Randeris guided one group through and on the way explained the details of the farm beginning with the layout of the facility.

Beginning the tour where supplies will one day be delivered, Randeris stressed the importance of keeping a sterile environment to prevent the spread of disease or other contamination. Known as the disinfectant room, Randeris explained this room is where the facility will receive all its supplies for use of the farm. The employees will also be required to take showers, leaving their personal clothes in the check in area and dawning their work attire to be worn only on the farm.

"A little pig bug in a farm this size can create a lot of work for the employees and make a lot of pigs sick and cost investors a lot of money as well so we do everything we can to keep the pigs as healthy as we can," Randeris said. "All the processes and the technology these barns (have) is designed around that."

The farm also has laundry facilities the employees will use and moving through the break/lunch room Randeris continued to elaborate on the details of the facility noting it will employ 14 full-time staff and four part-time staff, with possibilities of internships and extra help as needed in the future.

Moving into the farrowing barn, which houses 18 farrowing rooms, Randeris went over the details of the room's design and function.

"This is where the mama pigs will come to have their babies," Randeris said. "Mamma will be housed in the center maternity stall, it is designed to keep her kind of in a controlled stance."

Her further noted the design of the stall restricts the pig to stand straight up and lye straight down to prevent the mother from accidentally harming the piglets.

"This is a unique design of our pins," Randeris said. "Some of these older mama sows, they tend to want to just flop down if they've got room to do it, and it doesn't matter who's underneath her when she does it. The design kind of makes her lay down in a controlled way, and gives babies a chance to get over into the creep areas so they don't get crushed."

The air in the farrowing rooms is vented through the ceilings and is filtered as well as maintained at roughly 70 degrees throughout the year. Randeris said the feeding devices at the front of the stall are designed to five the sow all the feed she wants and noted. The rooms house 52 units in a room and 936 in the barn and approximately 240 sows will have piglets every week which will be shipped out at 20-25 days old. On average sows will give birth to 14-16 piglets just over two times a year.

Randeris said the facility's floors, which have small slits where drops through keep the facility and pigs relatively clean. The waste is then washed away in the water filled pit that sits below the floors where the pigs will stand.

When is comes time for the pigs to be shipped off, the piglets will be moved into a loading area where the doors will be shut off from the rest of the farm to prevent outside contamination from harming the herd inside.

Once the tour of the facility was completed each guide took time to answered questions from the group and noted open house event such as this are among the steps they like to take when installing a new facility. Randeris noted in keeping with the policy of contaminant reduction, that once they do receive pigs the facility would remain closed to non-approved personnel.

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