Editor's note: The following editorial was written by PORK Network Associate Editor Angela Bowman and published in the June issue of  PORK Network

The Upper Midwest saw a flurry of confinement construction for growers and finishers in the mid-1990s, and though it may seem like it was just yesterday, these buildings may be 20 years old or older and have already gone through one round of repairs and maintenance. Because these buildings are used 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, maintenance doesn’t always take priority.

To Mike Brumm, who works with pork operations of all sizes through his consultancy business, it’s a challenge the industry needs to overcome. One of the key aspects to this problem is that unlike that $300,000 combine in your machine shed, which came with CDs and manuals, the $650,000 hog barn isn’t as simple. “If you’re lucky, the equipment installers threw the owner’s manuals into a box in the corner. The manuals are there but there sure are no directions on how everything works together.”

To think of it another way, you likely perform daily maintenance and seasonal preparations on that combine: You grease the zerks daily and change the oil. But what do you do to keep your hog barn in check? Here are a few barn needs that are often overlooked.

How are your slats?
The problem: While slats could last 30 years, bad slats during installation and a lack of maintenance could shorten the lifespan.

Brumm suggests two things that could help keep slats maintained and repaired if possible:

  • Use a water-sealer product on high-traffic areas, such as the edge of the mat savers and under the drinkers, each time the facility is cleaned. It adds roughly $40-$50 in costs for a 2,400-head barn, but it works.
  • Repair slats with epoxy products. In addition to applying water sealers at wear points, epoxy products can also address erosion issues. While these products are expensive, they work to repair and stop erosion.