Manitoba facility cost estimates versus US costs

As most readers of this blog are aware, there has been little new construction of pig production facilities in Manitoba for many years. However, with the easing of the provincial moratorium there is interest in new facilities. Some of this interest is to replace existing facilities and some is possible expansion to supply market pigs both to the Maple Leaf plant at Brandon and for possible export to US markets now that MCOOL has been repealed.

In my recent trips to the Prairie Provinces I could always count on questions regarding the cost of construction for US facilities. In turn I was continually shocked by the prices reported for such items as concrete. For example, typical concrete bids this past year have been somewhere around $90/yd delivered in the upper Midwest. I think I’ve only heard of one project where it approached $100/yd.

In contrast, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan producers routinely talk about concrete prices in the range of $200-250/yd Canadian dollars. Even at today’s exchange rate of $0.71 Canadian per US dollar, this works out to $141-175/yd when priced in US currency.

With this as background, the Manitoba Pork Council has just released detailed information on updating or expanding production facilities in Manitoba ( The update includes floor plans and detailed bid estimates for construction of either a 2000 or 4000 grow-finish barn.

The plans are for partially slatted floors (typical in Canadian facilities) and a plastic lined earthen basin for manure storage. The facilities include a shower-in bench entry office and full mechanical ventilation using actuated ceiling inlets.

The complete project (permitting, site preparation, manure storage, etc.) is estimated (in Canadian dollars) at $1,304,567 for the 2000 head barn and $2,083,000 for the 4000 head unit. This works out to $652.28/pig space for the 2000 head barn and $520.75 for the 4000 head barn. Converted at today’s exchange rate these become (in US dollars) $463.12 for the 2000 head barn and $369.74 for the 4000 head barn.

In contrast, I’ve been using $325/pig space (US dollars) as my complete project cost for double-wide fully slatted tunnel barns that are generally permitted at 2488 pig spaces. The highest I’ve seen this past year was around $370/space for a facility that had every bell and whistle option installed.

Of this cost, the building itself (assumes a level site pad ready for excavation of the manure pit with access road installed and water/electricity roughed in to the site) has been running in the range of $225-230/space.

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