Facility Upkeep Thoughts

It is late Friday afternoon as I write this weeks blog. In the past 2 weeks I’ve been on a number of farms for several clients reviewing ventilation systems along with feeder and drinker needs for wean-finish flows. Once again I’ve seen barns in excellent states of repair and barns needing an investment in repairs soon.

It continues to amaze me and provide good pictures for producer meetings how varied producers are in caring for their investments in pork production. I was in several barns this past week that were constructed in 1996 and ceiling steel had almost no rust. The slats were still in very good repair and I was comfortable telling the grower I had no problem using those slats for a wean-finish remodel that was being contemplated.

On the other hand I have been in barns less than 10 years old recently that had rusted ceiling liners, severe concrete erosion around drinkers and feeders, door knobs missing, etc. The barn owner who may or may not have been the pig owner really didn’t seem concerned that their expensive production facility was slowing rotting away.

Both of these types of facilities generate the same contract payment. In many cases when contracts are coming up for renewal those with facilities in need of major repairs often don’t see the need for investing in repairs. In the past few years with a relative shortage of grow-finish spaces pig owners often felt they had to accept these facilities for their pig flows.

This year there are a number of open barns being offered for wean-finish and grow-finish pigs in the upper Midwest. However, my clients have indicated that production facilities in southern Minnesota are still difficult to locate. It appears the excess capacity is more likely to be in northwest and southeast Iowa which has had a burst of construction activity in the past few years. I also suspect that many of the facilities being offered belong to those producers who ‘milked’ their facilities for cash versus maintained their facilities as an income generating investment.

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