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.