Managing the Pigs
Pig performance. Feed intake is often more in hoops than confinement, particularly in the winter. The amount of additional winter feed varies between farms, climate, and seasonal extremes. Typically, for the first one or two uses of a hoop structure, the producer provides the same diet as for pigs in confinement buildings until a clear pattern of elevated feed intake emerges. Some producers are now beginning to adjust diets for nutrient density with an expectation of elevated feed intake. In winter, a good estimate is that 0.3 lb more feed will be needed per pound of live weight gain, or about 10% more feed as compared to confinement buildings. In the summer, a good estimate is that there will be no difference or a 0.1 lb more feed per lb of gain in hoop structures. For a yearly estimate, use 0.2 lb more feed per lb of gain in hoop structures.
On the basis of experiences in both winter and summer, backfat is estimated to average 0.1 inch more at the tenth rib for pigs raised in hoop structures compared to pigs raised in confinement. Average daily gain for hoop-housed pigs is as good as that of confinement pigs and may be greater if the pigs are healthier. The deep bedding and additional floor space probably positively affect the social structure and behavior to allow for such a large group size. Behavior research has shown that hoop pigs exhibit fewer stereotypical behaviors that are signs of a stressful environment than confinement pigs. A majority of producers report a three to four-week marketing range. That is, the time from the sale of the first pig to the removal of the last pig is three to four weeks. With 180 pigs, this usually means that approximately five pigs do not reach minimum market weight. These results are similar to those obtained in confinement operations.
Health. The health of pigs in hoop structures is generally good. Studies report that death loss has been minimal in hoop structures and is often lower than in confinement buildings. Respiratory problems have been minimal. To date, experiences have shown that a wide variety of pig genetics are adaptable to hoop structures. Pathogens could build up in the dirt floor under the bedded pack with long-term use. Roundworms can be an additional long-term health management concern if the pigs are not wormed or parasite free before entering the facility. If parasites become a concern, a layer of soil can be removed and replaced with a new layer with lime added. A routine monitoring program for both external and internal parasites is recommended.
Pig handling and management. Because the pigs are in a large group in a bedded setting, it is important to walk through them frequently to check the health status of each pig. It is very difficult to check all of the pigs by looking into the structure. Producers should check their pigs daily. To facilitate animal handling, a hoop structure needs to have a good gating system with some type of sorting area.
The gating system must be able to:
Sort animals for market.
Hold back smaller animals not going to market.
• 将生病的猪与其他猪群分开。由于大棚猪舍的布局和猪群规模较大， 对猪的识别、转移和/或治疗可能比较困难。
Separate sick animals from the larger group. Because of the layout of hoop structures and large group sizes, identifying, removing, and/or treating sick animals can be difficult.
In some instances, hoop structures have been constructed next to an existing concrete pad, and the existing pad has been used for sorting. In other instances, additional expense is necessary to construct a sorting area. Producers report that pigs from hoops sort and load well with adequate facilities. Portable loading chutes are effective for loading market animals if one to three hoop buildings are being used. If an operation has more than three hoop structures, a permanent loading facility is more efficient.