Feasibility of Hoop Structures for Market Swine in Iowa: Pig Performance, Pig Environment, and Budget Analysis
Hoop structures are large simple, tent–like shelters that can be used for pigs. The pigs are kept inside the hoop structure and large bales, e.g. straw or cornstalks, are used for bedding. A typical hoop structure (10x30 m) holds about 200 market pigs. Bedding is added every two to six weeks as needed until the pigs are marketed at which time clean out occurs. Three demonstrational trials were conducted in Iowa. The pigs were fed from 26 to 117 kg. Pig performance in hoops was acceptable (ADG=.83 kg/d, FE=3.42 kg feed/kg gain) with 9% poorer feed efficiency in winter. Growth rate was equal to or slightly more than typical for pigs in conventional confinement. Pig mortality was less than 3%. Average bedding use was 100 kg per pig in winter and 55 kg per pig in summer. The hoop manure can be composted readily. The bedding pack was variable with some areas actively composting on site in the hoop, generating temperatures up to 62C. An economic analysis showed similar total costs of production with the hoops having lower fixed costs and higher variable costs than in conventional confinement. The higher variable costs are due to bedding and extra feed and labor. Hoop structures offer a feasible alternative production system for sustainable swine production in Iowa and surrounding areas.
This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture 17, no. 6 (2001): 869–874.