If you’ve been a SWASH™ customer or follower for a while, you might have noticed some changes in recent weeks. Back in December 2019, Jones-Hamilton Co. acquired FarmLab Innovations, LLC and the SWASH™ line of products. As a part of that transition, we have worked to become a part of the Jones-Hamilton Co. family in a number of ways.
Layer housing has changed dramatically in recent years with the U.S. egg industry adjusting to the demands of companies that have pledged to source only cage-free eggs. Approximately 18-20% of egg production in the U.S. is now cage-free with more producers slated to make the change in five to six years.
The State of the Industry Today
The shift to antibiotic-free broiler production has created a great biosecurity challenge for the broiler industry. Tackling this challenge must begin in the hatchery with efficient cleaning programs that prepare surfaces for the application of registered disinfectants.
While biosecurity has been emphasized on poultry and swine farms for years, attention paid to maintaining secure facilities has increased recently as the nation focused more on animal and human health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On poultry farms, the primary method of transmission of disease-causing microorganisms is the use of contaminated equipment or worker clothing and footwear. It has long been documented that harmful viruses and bacteria can move from one flock or one farm to the next on trucks, tractors and other equipment.1
In hot summer months, heat stress is a constant battle for producers. In broilers, heat stress can result in panting, increased water intake, decreased feed intake and eventually death.1 In swine, heat challenges have increased compared to 30 years ago, with sows generating 55-70% more metabolic heat. Add to that environmental heat, and the potential impact of heat stress rises. In swine, heat stress can cause animals to consume less feed. In addition, decreased fertility and milk production is seen in sows and decreased sperm quality in boars.2
As producers work to remove moisture from poultry houses, it’s important to understand that temperature plays a critical role in the amount of water air can hold. Humidity describes how much water is in the air; for example, at 100% RH air is at its maximum water holding capacity, while at 90% RH the air can absorb a little more water. Humidity levels of 40% allow for the air to absorb a significant amount of moisture which can then be removed from the house through ventilation.
Managing moisture levels in poultry houses is a vital part of producers’ efforts to improve performance and minimize a wide range of potential problems.
Increasing temperatures in spring and summer cause sow body temperatures to rise along with them. Prior to farrowing, ideal ambient temperature for sows is 65-68°F. At the time of farrowing, the target is 72°F. Excess heat can cause stress, which can cause costly problems, including a drop in feed intake, particularly during lactation. When sows lose body weight, it can impact pig weaning weight, farrowing rate and litter size.
Warmer weather is on its way, and for some parts of the country, the temperatures are already climbing. Although spring has just begun, it is time to prepare your sow barns for the longer, hotter days ahead.
At roughly $5,000 per house, cool cell pads are one of most expensive housing investments producers make. With winter temperatures above average and spring temperatures expected to bring much of the same across the U.S., the role of evaporative cooling systems cannot be understated.