Our facilities are showing their age

In the past several weeks I’ve been in quite a few fully slatted finishing facilities that are showing their age. While some of them are 13+ years old, others are only 5-7 years old.

I suspect there are a large number of facilities constructed in the past 15 years that are in need of major investments in repairs. At some sites, the facility owners have neglected to reinvest any of their contract payments into repairs. At others, the choice of building materials during the construction process (‘cheap’) is showing.

At quite a few sites, there is noticeable erosion of the concrete slats, especially around drinkers and feeders. In one 5 year old site I was in recently, the concrete slats were more than 1/2” eroded at the edge of the feed saver mat in every pen. This is really remarkable since the site had dry feeders.

If you aren’t already doing so, I encourage every facility owner to begin using a good concrete sealer on their concrete slats at every cleaning. Use of this sealer will add years to the life of the slats.

At SVC Research, we use a sealer at every cleaning on the slats around the bowl drinkers and at the edge of the mat savers. Our operations manager tells me it costs about $30 in sealer plus a little time for the entire 2400 head facility. Not a bad investment considering the option of having to replace slats when the rebar begins showing or using an expensive slat repair product.

Another common problem I’m seeing is roofing steel corrosion, especially on the southwest corner of barns that have only 20 cfm/pig mechanical ventilation. It was quite common in the late 90’s to construct grow-finish barns with this limited amount of ventilation capacity. The belief was that electricity cost would be less if we could let the barn ventilate ‘naturally’ for a larger portion of the year.

The problem is that with only 20 cfm of fan capacity per pig, the curtain must open for heat relief when outside air temperatures are relatively cold. The warm moist air exhausting from the open curtain condenses on the steel roof overhang and ends up corroding the steel. In the upper Midwest with northwest winter winds, this means the exhaust point is most often the southwest corner of the room/facility.

Because of temperature control issues in cold weather and issues like roof eave corrosion, new curtain sided facilities are now often constructed with upwards of 42 cfm/pig of mechanical ventilation. When the curtains finally open for heat relief, the outside air temperatures are much higher and there is less risk of condensation and ultimate corrosion.

As the facilities that were constructed in the 90’s show their age, I would expect to see more companies exhibiting repair/replacement products at World Pork Expo.

2 thoughts on “Our facilities are showing their age

  1. Hello Mike,
    What brand of concrete sealer are you recommending and is there any data to support 1 product over another for sealing concrete against disease agents (PEDv, Salmonella, etc)? thank you!! tomf

  2. At this point in time I don’t know about differences in concrete sealers. Thompson’s is a popular brand that often see used. I do know that routine use of sealers at significant wear points on slats around feeders and drinkers prolongs the life of the concrete and the cost is very low. It cost’s us at SVC Research about $30 in product to apply in a 2400 head barn at these wear points.

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