In the past several weeks I’ve been in quite a few fully slatted finishing facilities that are showing their age. While some of them are 13+ years old, others are only 5 to 7 years old.

I suspect there are a large number of facilities constructed in the past 15 years that are in need of major investments in repairs. At some sites, the facility owners have neglected to reinvest any of their contract payments into repairs. At others, the choice of building materials during the construction process (‘cheap’) is showing.

At quite a few sites, there is noticeable erosion of the concrete slats, especially around drinkers and feeders. In one 5 year old site I was in recently, the concrete slats were more than 1/2” eroded at the edge of the feed saver mat in every pen. This is really remarkable since the site had dry feeders.

If you aren’t already doing so, I encourage every facility owner to begin using a good concrete sealer on their concrete slats at every cleaning. Use of this sealer will add years to the life of the slats.

At SVC Research, we use a sealer at every cleaning on the slats around the bowl drinkers and at the edge of the mat savers. Our operations manager tells me it costs about $30 in sealer plus a little time for the entire 2400 head facility. Not a bad investment considering the option of having to replace slats when the rebar begins showing or using an expensive slat repair product.

Another common problem I’m seeing is roofing steel corrosion, especially on the southwest corner of barns that have only 20 cfm/pig mechanical ventilation. It was quite common in the late 90’s to construct grow-finish barns with this limited amount of ventilation capacity. The belief was that electricity cost would be less if we could let the barn ventilate ‘naturally’ for a larger portion of the year.