Rising interest in livestock housing has producers looking at new ways to manage traditional chores. Thorp Equipment Inc., Thorp, Wis., is meeting the challenge with a new farrowing freestall system that provides a traditional space for farrowing, but also the ability to open up the unit to give the sow more room, yet provide good creep space for the litters.
In the Thorp design, each side of the crate swings out at one end. Other freestyle stalls usually swing from just one side.
Jeff Sauer, Thorp Equipment, explained that the company has been making a farrowing freestall for many years. In that original design the offset was only one side, he noted. “With the old design the sow could only lay in one direction,” he noted. “This is sort of a Danish-derived crate, and we designed that [concept] into this crate. There are other freestyle crates on the market, but this is one of the simplest available.”
Sauer noted that with the industry looking at 30-plus pigs per sow per year there’s a need for more space in the crate than in the past. “What we did is we took the crate and made these wing panels fold in so we can process when we want to,” he noted. “And when we want to open it up, we can simply swing it out.” He demonstrated that the process only takes moments to accomplish.
At work in the field
Sauer notes one integrator serving a specialty food market was opening the crate at 48 hours after farrowing and didn’t see any added fatalities with this design. “They’re pretty amazed by that,” he said.
The crate is 6 feet wide and 8 feet long in its standard design. “We also make the geometrics that fit for everybody; we have an integrator that’s remodeling old sow units, and we’re converting them to 7-by-7-foot units. We’re just widening them out. You really want square footage for the creep area,” he said.
For flooring, Thorp builds the deck and runs a cast center with a reinforced stainless-steel deck system, then lays wire or reinforced plastic on the side. “We have like a 5/8- or 1/2-inch lip between the cast and the wire and it apparently isn’t a problem for the sow, and she’ll lay on it as well,” he noted.
Thorp also only does its crates in stainless. The steel for the crate can be either a 439 stainless (magnetic) or a 304 stainless (non-magnetic), Sauer said. Majority of the integrators have been going with the 439 stainless. Sauer said that they’ve not seen rust with the product made with 400-series steel.
Thorp has been selling farrowing freestalls since the early 1980s. This crate started about four years ago, and this Danish 2015 Style Farrow Freestall, is the final design coming to market, Sauer said.
More room for pigs
Panel member Joe Zulovich, delved into the space-per-pig question facing the industry as litters get bigger. He asked if work had been done on the topic.
Sauer replied: “You bring up a good point. I never did the math on square inches, square feet per pig. Common knowledge I live off of is that if 35 square feet isn’t enough to support eight pigs at 30 days, how will it support 13 pigs at 21 days?”
Sauer has worked with customers who have looked at crate space and found in larger crates they’re weaning more pigs with the bigger crate. So an older facility moving to the 7-by-7-foot design may make sense. “A lot of customers are looking at it more than ever before. In one facility we moved to the 7-by-7 design in a remodeled facility, get 49 square feet, and I’m a believer in 45 square feet or more,” Sauer said. “I ask the guys when they talk about a small crate, ‘Do you want to stay at 24 pigs per sow?’ and they say, ‘No!’,” he noted.
Learn more about the latest version of the Danish crate by visiting thorpequipment.com.