Do you have a ventilation system or just ventilation equipment operating in a barn?

As I slowly return to the world of pork production following the loss of my wife on June 21, I find that my priorities aren’t quite the same as they once were. Some of that is driven by family demands. As the guardian for our 25 year old handicapped daughter I’ve had to learn how to deal with Social Security Administration rules and accounting, how to file yearly reports with district court regarding management of her monies, how to spend days at a time visiting various doctors and therapists, how to work with social services, care providers and sheltered workshop personnel as we craft an individual development plan. And the list goes on of the many things my wife took care of so I could be deeply immersed in the swine industry.

My goal is to remain immersed as much as possible, but there will be times I’ll be drawn elsewhere in response to family needs. I guess this is the Lord’s way of saying family first and work second!

The past couple of weeks I’ve been at several sites in several states and a common theme has come up at all of the sites. While we talk about a ventilation system, producers, contract growers and employees don’t consider inlets part of the system. They are just something on the ceiling that lets air into the room and they may or may not be easily adjustable, cleaned and repaired.

A ventilation system is composed of fans, inlets and controls that must operate as a system. The fans are the engine for the system and like tractor engines, they need constant maintenance. Oversize the engine (fans) and your winter fuel usage will be too high.

The ceiling inlets are like the governor on an engine. Adjusted correctly they allow the fans to perform as designed and air to flow in the animal space as intended. Make a mistake with the governor and you’ll have wet pens, dirty pigs and/or higher than necessary electric bills.

The controller is the throttle for the system – it determines how much air must be exhausted from the facility and/or how much heat must be added to maintain conditions. Make a mistake with the throttle and your system will stall out (wet barns, cold barns, hot pigs, etc).

Lately it’s the inlets that have been the weak link in the systems on the sites I’ve been at. Next week/month it could be the fans or controllers that are the weak links. The pig doesn’t care – if any component of the system is incorrectly designed or managed the pig bears the consequences.

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