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Sow Townhouses Cut Costs, Labor
A Missouri farmer's efficient, convenient "town house" hog farrowing units have now become a product for the commercial market.
Donald Poore, of Shelbina, designed 5-unit and 2-unit farrowing houses that are warm, comfortable, clean and easy to work with. He's given them the brand name of "Insa- House" because of their sheet metal and plywood exterior with 2-in. styrofoam insulated walls. The units retain enough animal heat so pigs stay warm, even in sub-zero weather.
Besides their low energy needs, the town houses provide excellent pig protection without the caged effect of farrowing crates. A sow and her litter occupy each unit, giving the sow access to the outdoor feeding and dunging area. A set of five houses forms an 8 x 28-ft. building served by a 10 x 28 ft. feeding platform.
The concrete feeding floor is permanent but the housing units are set on a wooden floor over gravel fill. Between farrowings, the boxes can be tipped up to clean the wood floor, and to disinfect the houses. Five-unit houses stay in place over the floor by their own weight; the 2-unit houses are bolted to the floor with a patented lag bolt.
Sows have plenty of room to move inside each 5 by 8 ft. unit. Baby pigs are protected by movable pig rails that slide out for easier house cleaning. The back of each unit has a heat light box that's completely "sow proof". A pig guard in the doorway keeps baby pigs inside while the sow is free to go in and out to the feeding floor.
Top hatches on each unit can be propped open for summer ventilation and slide out for cleaning, or for access to the sow.
Poore uses mostly 5-unit houses for his own 150-sow operation. A feeder and waterer are located between two 5-sow units, and a 20 ft. manure and bedding storage area separates each group of 10 sows.
"Each litter stays with the sow the first four weeks," he says. "Then, we move out the sows leaving the little pigs in the house another 2-4 weeks. After the litters are moved out, we tip the houses up to let the sun disinfect them and we scrape the wooden platforms with a skid-steer loader."
Poore says he doesn't turn heat lamps on until outside temperature drops to about 10? F. The health and survival of his pigs have been excellent, with an average litter size of 9.6 pigs weaned per sow.
"We designed these farrowing houses for our own operation a few years ago. Thanks to growing demand from neighbors, we decided to go commercial," explains Poore. "We've already sold 150 of the 2-sow units within a 200-mile radius."
The two-sow units are priced at $940. That price includes the house, and the 1 1/2-in. thick oak floor. It does not include the concrete pad.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Insa-House Mfg., Rt. 3, Box 153, Shelbina, Mo. 63468 (ph 314 588-4951).

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1982 - Volume #6, Issue #1