Confronted with aging equipment and regulatory change coming in 2022, many hog producers are expected to remodel or make upgrades to their barn this season. That’s the expectation of several dealers for AP, the AGCO brand that produces equipment used in swine production.
The biggest issue driving the improvements, the dealers say, is California Proposition 12, which requires producers to provide more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and calves raised for veal. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, a minimum of 24 square feet of usable floor space must be provided per gestating sow for pork products used in the state.
Other expected upgrades this season are meant to provide improved efficiencies and a more consistent barn environment. This includes upgraded ventilation equipment, such as fans and ceiling inlets, as well as new heaters. These types of upgrades may be required in new integrator contracts.
Dealers say other work could include continued conversion to group housing in gestation barns, more modern feeding and watering systems, larger pen sizes in finishing barns and addressing structural issues such as roof repairs, steel replacement and repairing or replacing failing concrete slats.
“A lot of hog barns were built 25 years ago, and depending on how well they were built and maintained, there can be a lot of equipment that needs to be replaced,” said Barrie Luers, general manager of Midwest Livestock Systems, LLC in Beatrice, Neb.
Planning Is Key
Regardless of the type of project, it is important to work closely with your dealer or contractor for proper planning and timing. Recommendations include:
- Begin with a good understanding of the project details upfront and what you want to accomplish. The best remodel is a team effort, with the producer and contractor working and communicating together.
- Be realistic about how long the project will take. Begin the planning process two to three months before the anticipated start date to allow enough lead time for design, product availability and labor.
- Ensure that design plans match the criteria of your integrator contract. Build time into the planning process to include integrators.
- Build flexibility into the plan. Think of what-ifs, so if any challenges should arise later, changes can made to keep the operation viable.
- Allow for contingencies in the budget. Most remodeling projects bring a surprise or two, and a good plan will make it easier to deal with those.