David Klocke, life-long pork producer from west central Iowa, was disappointed in the air quality in his hog barns. He came across an Extension article comparing air quality in a confinement barn with pit ventilation to a barn with a wall-mounted fan in the ventilation. “After reading the Extension article, it dawned on me that while pit fans are supposed to remove pit gasses, they end up pulling air from its closest point, which is the pig space and right above the slats. This causes air turbulence and a poor environment for the pigs and people operating the barn. I needed to figure out a way to draw air from the flat surface above the manure where the heaviest gases hover.”
Klocke, who operates a 2,700-sow farrow-to-wean operation and president of PigEasy LLC., came up with the BrEasy, a targeted ventilation baffle for pit fans, targeting the coldest, heaviest gases right above the manure line while leaving the better-quality air above the slats undisturbed. Installed between the pit fan and pit wall opening, the BrEasy is easily managed with a visual pit fan indicator and cable turn system.
Through an Iowa State University study by Daniel Andersen, BrEasy was found to reduce barn ammonia levels by 32% and in-barn odor by 43%, leading to improved pig health and operator environment. Klocke says an added benefit to air quality improvement, since the coldest air right above the manure line is removed, there was a “significant reduction in propane use throughout the colder months.”
Other benefits include reduction in barn draft, creation of a healthier environment for manure microbes, reduction of fly issues and it can be used to close off the pit opening during pump out.
Judges Brett Ramirez and Gregg Hora both questioned the management of the system, and Katie Holtz, PigEasy Marketing/Sales, and daughter of David Klocke, calmed those fears saying that, even though it is not a hands-off tool, “it is in fact easy to manage.” She relates that one customer records manure levels anyway, so checking this is just one more thing on the site supervisor’s checklist.
Ramirez questions the system’s performance in snow, which again Holtz put to rest by saying that a producer can check the baffles from the inside with a flashlight and that that would only need to be adjusted once every three to four weeks. “And frankly, someone should be checking around the barn once a month anyway,” she says.