1986 - Volume #10, Issue #3, Page #32[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Drop Feeder Simplifies Sow Feeding
They hand-fed dry sows individually at one time, and are all too familiar with the stress this puts on pregnant females.
Mike Waldner runs a 290-sow farrow-to-finish operation, and son Macky, a 240-sow operation near Baldur, Man. They needed a better way to feed gilts and developed homemade drop feeders which distribute feed quickly to all sows at one time. It's still hand-feeding, but not one sow at a time.
Dry sows are housed in 255 gestation stalls, each 22 in. wide, in eight 60 rows. The 8 rows are divided by a central alley, with 4 on each side. Fifteen stalls are kept as a buffer. Feed is dispersed from a tapered galvanized steel trough mounted over the front of the stalls, running the full length of each row. The trough is 8" wide at the top and 8 in. high, with a 1?-in. opening at the bottom. Feed drops inside the stalls, just in front of a below-floor water trough. Sows enter the stalls from the rear and exit from the front.
The trough is made in 10-ft. sections. To reinforce each joint, Waldner first cut 2-ft. off one side at the end of each section. When fitted together, these offset ends overlap on one side, making the 60-ft. trough more rigid.
A 1¢-in. dia. galvanized pipe, welded together in 10-ft. sections, sits in the bottom of the trough, acting like a plug. At 44-in. intervals, a chain, bolted to the pipe, is hooked to a 3-in. strap of galvanized steel on top of the feeder by a cotter pin. At feeding time, a single lever at the end of the pipe is cranked clockwise, the pipe winds up the chains, and feed drops in front of every sow in the row.
The feeder is fastened to the top rail of every other stall with U-bolts and shimmed up with small pieces of pipe to keep it slightly above the stalls.
Waldner feeds dry sows daily in the morning. To feed, he simply goes down the alley between the rows cranking 2 levers at a time. It takes about 30 seconds to trip all 8 feeders, compared to the 30 minutes it took to feed each sow by hand. Afterward, the next morning's feed is manually put in the troughs.
Waldner says he had to make some modifications to his original design to stop sows from pushing the pipe up with their noses to get extra feed. To keep sows from poking their noses where they don't belong, he lengthened the outside flange at the bottom of the feeder from 1¢ in. to 3 in. and ran an electrified wire above the sows' heads.
Reprinted with permission from Country Guide Magazine, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
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