This is my newest farrowing setup. Last winter/spring when I had all that trouble in March with snow and cold, I decided I would try putting the farrowing huts inside a hoop barn. You can see by the ice on the bottom of the closest hut that it’s still cold in there, but I shouldn’t have as much of a moisture problem as I did outside in the snow and cold.
Since I stopped farrowing in my parents’ heated barn in 2011, I’ve tried four different ways of farrowing:
The warm, dry months of July, August , and September are ideal for farrowing outside. I’m convinced that if sows had plenty of space and material to build their own nests, no predator problems, and feed and water, a farmer could do absolutely nothing and would average over 8 piglets weaned per litter during this perfect time.
Farrowing in huts on frozen ground with snow and ice surrounding is what I tried last winter/spring. I managed to wean 7 piglets per litter, but it took tons of bedding and manual work and was stressful.
Farrowing in huts in the warmer months is easier than when it’s cold. I probably sleep the best with this method as I know if a sow and her litter is in a hut with a roller on the door to keep the piglets in, they are safe from predators and the elements.
Finally, farrowing in a hoop barn with homemade pens is the first method I tried in January of 2012. This worked surprisingly well except for a couple of litters born when the temperature dipped to zero F. I made temporary pens out of wire hog panels, giving the sows plenty of space, removing the panels when the piglets were a couple of weeks old. It was quite a bit of work, letting the sows out of their pens for feed and water twice a day, but it was a nice environment for the pigs and the farmer.
So putting huts inside a hoop barn is my fifth iteration. I plan to use this system only until mid-spring, then I will go to huts outside. As always, I plan to keep statistics and share the results by the end of the year.
Great Photo, I hope is less stressful for all involved. Why doesn’t your barn work, too cold or difficult to heat?
I’m looking forward to hearing how this works for you. It looks promising. I have been considering a similar setup for our winter/spring farrowing.
Thanks for the comments. I stopped using the barn when I started farming on my own. It was difficult to heat also.
I grew up raising showpigs here in Oklahoma, we had a portable farrowing house with free stall pens with guardrails that we built from oilfield pipe and sucker rods, we would put a tarp over it in the summer and we would pull it in the greenhouse in the winter. It worked pretty well in the warmer months, but wasn’t so great in the cold. In 2008 we decided to quit showpigs and began culling our sowherd on their ability to farrow in huts on pasture, I enjoy raising hogs so much more now, but do miss the competition of the showring. It is good to see others doing the same!