Archive for June 2012

The most accurate way to measure the weight of a pig is to use a specialist pig weigh or hog scales. However, these can be expensive and if you only have a few pigs to weigh and a high degree of accuracy is not necessarily needed, we explain how to obtain a good estimate of a pigs weight using only a measuring tape and a calculator.

You will need a measuring tape similar to those used by tailors. The formula is not exact, but it comes within about three percent of the actual weight. The formula is as follows:

1. Girth measurement take the heart-girth measurement. Your measuring tape needs to go around the body just behind the front legs and over the shoulder area. As an example for you I will use the measurements of Flower. Her girth measurement is 43 inches.

2. Square the result (multiply the measurement by itself). Example: The measurement was 43 inches. 43 X 43 = 1,849.

3. Length measurement. Measure the length of your pig. Start at the top of his or her head right in between the ears and measure down to the start, or base, of the tail (not the end of the tail). Flower’s length is 39 inches.

4. Girth result x length: Take the girth measurement result (in the example above this was 1,849) and multiply that times the length of your pig. In our example this would be: 1,849 X 39 = 72,111.

5. Weight calculation: Divide this result by 400, and you’ll have a weight accurate to within about three percent. In our example: 72,111 divided by 400 = 180 pounds. Factoring in the 3% variance (5.4 pounds), this means Flower weighs between 174.6 and 185.4 pounds.

Credit for this formula goes to the Old Farmer’s Almanac 1993.


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This section is from the book “The Stable Book: Being A Treatise On The Management Of Horses”, by John Stewart. Also available from Amazon: The Stable Book.

Ordinary horse hay racks are made of wood; they are wide as the stall, have the front sloping, and the back perpendicular. Racks of this kind are giving way to others made of cast-iron, and much smaller. As far as the horse is concerned, it matters little whether iron or wood be used. It is said that his lips are apt to receive injury from splinters which occasionally start on the wood; but this happens very rarely. Iron racks are at first more costly; but in the end they are the cheapest. They require no repairs; at the expiration of ten years they are nearly as valuable as at the beginning, and they are easily made clean, a matter of considerable importance when infectious diseases prevail. They are never well made. The spars are placed too far apart, and they all slope too much in the front. It would be easy to make them closer and of a more suitable form.

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The face of the rack ought to be perpendicular; in order that the hay may always lie within the horse’s reach, the back of the rack ought to form an inclined plane. The spars ought to be round, and two inches, apart. For fast-working horses, the rack is large enough if it hold seven pounds of hay. The largest size need not hold more than double or treble this quantity. The bottom of the rack should be eighteen or twenty inches from the top of the manger. The best situation is midway between the partitions. But in this place, a perpendicular front, flush with the head wall, can not be obtained without recesses.

In reference to situation, hay-racks may be termed front, side, and under racks. The first is that which is elevated on the wall in front of the horse; the second, that which is placed in one corner; and the third is on a level with the manger.

The Front-Rack usually has a sloping face; and sometimes the inclination is so great, and the rack so high, that the horse has to turn his head almost upside down every time he applies to it. When the stable is not sufficiently wide, or the walls sufficiently thick, to admit of a perpendicular face, the front of the rack must be inclined; but the inclination need not be great. A rack having the face upright and the back sloping When the spars are of iron, this is the best rack. It answers perfectly well for all kind of horses. It is thirty inches wide, twenty-four deep, and nineteen from front to back. The spars are round, one and a quarter inches thick, and two and a half inches apart. Each rack should have a ring at bottom for securing the horse’s head. When tied to the spars he is apt to bend or break them. Small racks are not good for large horses, though suitable enough for fast-workers.

The Side-Rack may be placed in either corner, on the right or on the left; but when filled from the stable, it is most convenient on the left side. When made of wood, the side-rack usually has upright round spars, arranged in a semi-circular form. The back is an inclined plane. The bottom on the outside is boarded up, so that the horse may not injure his head against the corner. This is the best kind of rack for narrow and low stables. It takes nothing off the width of the stable and allows the horse to stand quite within the stall when eating his hay. The front might easily be made of cast iron; the back and bottom of wood; or the inclined back might be dispensed with, and it would thus be both cheap and durable. As usually made, it has all the awkwardness of the old-fashioned sloping front, and it is gener ally too small.

The Under~Rack is sometimes nothing but a large deep manger, having a few spars across the top, placed so far apart that the horse’s head can pass between them, and let his muzzle to the bottom. This is used when the stable is too low to admit an elevated rack. It is a poor substitute, troublesome to fill, and permitting the horse to waste his hay by scatter ing it among his litter, and spoiling it with his breath. Sometimes the under-rack differs not in form from the ordinary wooden one. It is three feet long, occupying half the breadth of the stall, and having its upper border level with the manger, which occupies the other half of the stall. It is sometimes sparred across the top, but most usually open; its front is sparred, sloping, and reaching to within a foot of the ground The object of this is to permit the horse to eat while lying. Few appear much inclined to take advantage of the contrivance. Some do; but most horses eat what they want before lying down. It allows the horse to breathe upon his hay, and to throw it on the ground; and when sparred at top, he can not get to the bottom of the rack, except from the front, and the front he can hardly apply to without, lying down.

The under-rack, though generally made of wood, and with an inclined face, is sometimes of cast-iron, and upright.

In some stables there are no racks. The hay is thrown on the ground, or it is cut and placed in the manger. The first is a wasteful practice, and not common; the horse destroys more hay than he eats. The second, that of cutting the hay into chaff, is advisable only under certain circumstances. At times hay is so cheap, that the quantity saved does not pay the cost of converting it into chaff. Whether that be the case or not, it is proper in large establishments to have racks in some of the stalls. This will be understood by referring to the article on Preparing Food.

The usual mode of filling the hay-rack is none of the best. When the loft is over the stable, as it always is in towns, the hay is put into the rack by a hole directly over it communicating with the loft. For certain reasons these holes ought to be abolished, and in a great many stables they are. The moist foul air of the stable passes through them; it mingles with the hay and contaminates it. The dust and the seed which are thrown down with the hay, fall upon the mane, into the ears and the eyes, and annoy the horse as well as soil him. Hence, he learns a trick of standing back, or breaking his halter; and horses have been seriously injured by the hay-fork slipping from the hand of a careless groom and falling upon the head or neck. There should be no communication between the loft and the stable. The hay can be rolled into a bundle and put into the rack from the stable. It can be thrown in at the top. The upper spars of low racks, when they have any, should be fixed to a frame opening on hinges; it saves the time consumed in thrusting it through the spars.

The other racks are all quite open at top, and the hay is thrown in by a fork.

The most common method in America is, to construct the barns with a space or hall of about fourteen feet in width between the stalls which face each other, and running through the whole width of the building. The hay is then thrown from the loft on to the hall floor, and thence into the racks This space acts as an admirable ventilator, and is otherwise useful for a variety of purposes. The floors of the lofts over the stables are made so close, either by double layers of boards or a single layer grooved and tongued, as to prevent the seed and dust falling on to the horses below. We think this arrangement better than any we saw in England. In cities, however, in consequence of the high price of building lots, this plan can not so well be adopted. Yet this need not prevent stables being made much higher between joints than is usually practiced, and giving windows and cross gauze-wire holes sufficient for ventilation, constructed on the same principle as the respirator for the human subject.


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A cattle guard is a series of parallel metal bars which is installed in a roadway over a ditch to prevent ungulates from escaping a fenced area. The parallel bars are designed to be wide enough so that hooves and legs will fall through, while cars can drive over them safely, although they do need to slow down. Most hoofed animals are smart enough to recognize the potential hazard of a cattle guard, and they will avoid them: in some cases, animals will even avoid lines painted on a busy road to resemble a cattle guard. Cattle guards are in use all over the world as a practical alternative to gates, which must be opened and closed every time someone wants to pass through.

The concept of a cattle guard was originally conceived of in the American west by the railroads, which constantly had problems with free ranging cattle getting onto the train tracks and causing accidents. In 1913, an inventor named William J. Hickey recognized the potential uses for a cattle guard, with cars taking over America, and filed a patent for his invention, which was specifically developed for use in roadways. Two years later, the United States Patent and Trade Office approved the patent.

Today, the cattle guard is used all over the world, especially in nations where animals graze public lands which are split by roads. Prior to the introduction of the cattle guard, anyone walking or driving across a fence line would have had to open a gate and close it behind them: while this task is not too onerous for walkers, it can be irritating to drivers, especially on long trips through public lands. The cattle guard is designed to survive in the roadway for several years: it is laid flush with the road and treated with anti-rusting agents to prevent it from rusting out or being jostled by cars. Fence inspectors will periodically check the cattle guards as well, to make sure that they are still safe and usable.

Some animals can figure out a way around a cattle guard: sheep, for example, have been known to roll across cattle guards of up to three feet (one meter) across. Horses and cattle sometimes attempt to jump them, although usually the width of the cattle guard is enough to deter this idea. If a farmer does need to move livestock over a cattle guard, a sheet of wood can be thrown down over the bars for the animals to walk over, and if a cattle guard needs to be removed from the roadway altogether, the bars are lifted and the ditch is filled before that section of the road is resurfaced with fresh asphalt.


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by Dr Mike Brumm |

With high feed ingredient prices affecting pork producers around the world, it seems logical to expect that closer attention would be paid to management of feeders in swine facilities. However, the experience of every consultant and industry advisor whom the author knows suggests that producers, employees and contract growers continue to be lax in the daily adjustment of feeders.

One of the challenges in feeder adjustment is the many variations in feeder design, especially at the point of feed access by the pig. In some hog feeders, pigs turn wheels or activate agitation devices to make feed available for consumption. In others, feed delivery is controlled by means of a slotted device whose width is controlled by the producer. Add to this the differences in feed flow-ability between mash and pellets, between high- and low-fibre diets, between high- and low-fat inclusion levels and you have the recipe for much variation in the expectation for proper feeder setting to minimise wastage while maximising intake and gain.

In the United States, where a majority of all diets are corn- and soybean meal-based, there are several visual guides available for feeder adjustment. The most commonly used source is a set of pictures from Kansas State University swine specialists.

Equipment manufacturers and nutrition suppliers also offer pictorial guides to assist in feeder adjust.

While these pictures can be very helpful, employees and contract growers often do not relate these pictures to their facilities. There are production facilities where these pictures are posted on the office wall as a guide for employees and the employees ignore the pictures.

In the author’s experience, the best method to have cooperation of all parties in achieving consistent feeder adjustment is to use a digital camera. As the owner and employee or as the advisor and owner/employee walk pens in a facility examining pigs and feeder and drinker adjustments, when they agree on the appropriate feeder adjustment setting, take a picture of the feeder. Print the picture and post it in the office or hallway to the facility (pictures 1 and 2). Now the employee has ‘ownership’ in feeder adjustment because the picture of a correctly adjusted feeder is one that he/she participated in.

Pig feeder adjustment will help minimize waste while maximizing intake and gain. Pictures courtesy of Farmweld Inc.

In general, the research data suggests that feeders designed for ad libitum feed access with diets in the mash form should have approximately 40 per cent of the feeder pan covered with feed. If pan coverage is less than 20 per cent, feed intake may be limited, which will result in a decrease in daily gain and often only a minimal improvement in feed conversion efficiency.


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