Facilty repair decisions

This morning it was -12F with the weatherman saying cold will be with us all week. I’m sure the production facilities in this region have ice forming on ceiling inlets, entry points, etc. In many cases there is ice and/or moisture condensation on sidewalls and ceilings at points where the insulation has been damaged by water leaks, rodent infestations or wind movement.

2015 is predicted to be a year of reasonable profits to the industry so many producers have begun making plans for facility repair, in addition to new construction. While no one will be climbing into attics looking for water leaks this week in southern Minnesota, this week is a good time to begin thinking about the types of repairs necessary to keep your production functional and structurally safe.

I’ve been asked many times how to tell when a facility needs structural repairs. I am not a qualified structural engineer so I can’t even begin to make the necessary assessments on such things as rafters and foundations.

However, many times there are very obvious repair needs that were deferred over the past 5-7 years as the industry struggled with profitability. How to pay for the repairs has always been a question/concern, especially in contract production facilities.

I see a wide range of facility maintenance and repair in contract facilities. Some growers take extreme pride in their facilities and after 5 or 10 or even 15 years of usage they are in a state of repair close to ‘good as new’. On the other hand, some contract growers use the proceeds from the production contract for non-production related expenses (for example – to buy ‘green’ or ‘red’ equipment) and in as little as 5 years the facilities show the lack of attention to maintenance.

With the shortage of pigs and resulting excess production facility capacity last year, many contract growers were faced with production systems putting pressure on their growers to fix/repair facilities or risk non-renewal of their contracts. This pressure will decline somewhat this summer as the need for space increases in the US in response to breeding herd expansion (especially if PEDv isn’t as severe this winter). For sure in 2016 grow-finish space once again may be a limit to many production systems production plans.

While I can wish that every producer and contract grower placed a high priority on facility maintenance and repair, I know that isn’t human nature. For those producers and contract growers that are looking at their facilities and wondering about what to repair first, the Prairie Swine Centre in Canada has recently released an excellent check list to help with the prioritization process:

http://www.prairieswine.com/barn-integrity-assessment-checklist/

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