hog house does the work L abor —the keyword in making money in agriculture. Reduce labor, without reducing efficiency, and you increase earnings from the operation. It's almost that simple. Rollie Tfienthaler, who farms with his father in Carroll County, Iowa, set out to find a way of feeding hogs without all the usual labor involved. He wanted to raise his hogs under good conditions. He wanted nearly automatic feeding and watering facilities. He wanted, above everything else, to cut labor by taking the work out of raising hogs — especially when it came to manure handling. The Tfienthalers also have what is known as the Five-Mile Station, located between Carroll and Auburn, Iowa. They have a good feed and petroleum products business in addition to the work on four farms in the area. So, with a large hog operation, four farms to manage totaling 550 acres, and the other business, Rollie and Al Tfienthaler find themselves continuously busy. And, the fact that they are so busy gives us the clue as to why they invested in a new style hog house. When Rollie got word of a new hog house concept that all but eliminated the manure handling problem, he was quick to investigate. The original building plans were drawn by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. A major feed company reviewed the plans, saw the possibilities, offered a few suggested changes and decided to promote the building. It is basically a facility to accommodate 200 hogs at a time —containing four pens, each capable of housing 50 hogs from weaning to market weight. The several pens make it possible to keep pigs of different sizes separated—ideal for multiple farrowing. The pens are separated by feeders that deliver on both sides and partitions that carry on to the rear of the building—allowing for a service aisle. The building features a movable partition that slides on a track. To the rear of the partition is the sleeping area, which is virtually draft free even though the front of the building is normally completely open. The size of the variable-sized sleeping area is -^ ©1967 Rural Gravure determined by size of hogs and how much room they require. To the front of the movable partition is the drinking and feeding area, where most of the manure is dropped. The feeding area features a sloped concrete floor and a deep, narrow, self-flushing gutter for automatic manure disposal. In normal weather (8 months or more of the year), the manure slides into the gutter without so much as a coaxing. The Tfienthalers find that a brief hose down, adding water to the holdings in the gutter, is a good idea although not essential. All they have to do is pull the plug. Says Rollie, "This is exactly the kind of setup I've always wanted. It's a completely automatic disposal system that really works. From spring to winter we just pull the plug about every three days and the manure floats right into the liquid holding pit. In the colder winter months we do about the same, only we wait for a sunny day and let nature's heat break it loose. We help it into the gutter and flush as usual." The liquid manure pit has a capacity of 32-thousand gallons. It is made of concrete silo staves (rejects because they can be bought for less than half price). Tfienthaler feels fortunate that a silo company is located in a nearby town. The manure is pumped out and into a tank and taken to the field in one easy operation. "This is a sort of lazy man's way of doing business," admits Rollie, "but we're so busy we have no choice. Besides, it's the best way." The fourth houseful of hogs is now nearing market weight. The last couple of years have brought about some changes in the setup. "We seem to always get the kind of pigs that like to chew up anything made of wood," says the young Iowa hog farmer. "The original plans called for plywood partitions. I found them fast disappearing and replaced them with concrete blocks. It didn't cost much and actually it made the building far more lasting. Now it's made almost entirely of steel and concrete and requires practically no upkeep work." •TV In winter months the hogs get sunshine through the open south side of the building. Note the partition in the foreground. Hogs eat and drink on the other side and sleep in draft-free quarters behind it. Rollie Tfienthaler rests on the plank cover of the 32,000 gallon holding tank for his automatic manure handling system. Note the concrete staves. They are rejects from a silo manufacturing company and can be purchased inexpensively for this purpose. One of the four sections of the "automatic" hog feeding structure is shown here with a rolled down canvas wind break in place. The Tfienthaler's have ordered three more for the front of the building, feeling that this adequately controls temperature in the coldest months, resulting in steadier, better doing hogs. How much work is there actually to this kind of a setup? Well, here's what the Tfien- thalers have to say on the issue. "This makes 800 head of hogs for the building. We have cut labor to an absolute minimum. A properly balanced feeding ration is augered into the feeders and all we do is lift a slide every several days. The manure takes care of itself." "We walk through the barn a couple of times a day to see that everything is all right and that's about it," added Rollie. Started as a sort of experiment, the setup is no longer considered that. It really works. It's the sort of a building that they prefer. They do not like totally confined, environmentally controlled dark buildings for raising hogs. They prefer this kind with an open southern exposure. "If we get a couple of .cold months," added Rollie, "we'll use our heavy roll-down canvas drapes. They'll warm it up and give us a semi-environmentally controlled setup." To sort of sum up the situation, Rollie Tfienthaler added this: "We consider this setup one more idea- just another concept that makes the job of producing food easier and more profitable. It doesn't require a huge investment either. I want another one, but it's going to have to wait until we get a new farrowing barn built on this farm."
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