​Swine Unit

Brian Ford, Manager
Phone (765) 496-3087 
Fax (765) 583-4838
email: fordbd@purdue.edu

The mission of this unit is to provide swine for research in the areas of nutrition, physiology, and management and also to provide animals for the undergraduate teaching and extension programs. The staff is comprised of the manager, assistant manager, and four animal technicians; student labor comprises about 1 FTE.

The breeding herd is made up of 240 sows and six to eight boars. Thirty-six litters are farrowed every four weeks. Eighty percent of these maternal line females are bred to terminal sires using primarily Duroc boars. Artificial insemination is practiced and occasionally semen is purchased.

In breeding-gestation #1, animals are maintained in groups of 15, housed in an open-front building with partially slotted floor, individually fed through gestation. In breeding-gestation #2 there are 64 individual crates for gestating females and pens for 36 breeding females. They are individually fed throughout breeding and gestation. Geothermal air is used for tempering incoming air for both cooling and heating purposes.

Two separate farrowing buildings, each containing 36 crates are used on a rotating schedule that permits cleaning and disinfecting of buildings when empty. Sow feed intake in the farrowing stall is limited to the gestation level until after farrowing. Intake is then gradually increased until a sow is on a full-feed lactation diet. Within 72 hours after birth, tails are docked, needle teeth clipped, ears notched, and males castrated. Each farrowing group consists of 36 sows over a maximal 6- to 10-day period. Room temperature is maintained at 70° to 80°F and heat pads, hovers, or heat bulbs provide additional heat for baby pigs.

The nursery in each building has multiple pens to hold a litter of 6 to 10 pigs from weaning to 40 lbs. Phase-feeding is practiced until pigs are moved to growing-finishing units.

Pens in the growing-finishing area provide space (8 sq. ft./pig) for eight animals per pen in building #1. Grow-finish building #2 contains pens to hold four to 12 pigs. Supplemental heat is provided when the room temperature drops below 62oF. Bagged or bulk feed handling is available. Weighing of animals is done on electronic digital scales. Phase-feeding is practiced to market weights. Grow-finish building #3 is a curtain-sided, naturally ventilated building with 32 pens (5.5' X 10' each). This building has a flush system and is managed in an "all-in, all-out" fashion.

The swine research laboratory facility provides rooms for intensive research including surgery. Rooms for baby pig research, physiological monitoring, and environmental air control are available.

Manure from all buildings, except the isolation unit, drops into pits under the floor and flows (pull-plug) by gravity to a sump adjacent to the first cell of a three-cell lagoon. It is pumped into the lagoon automatically. Water from the second cell is recycled for flushing in breeding-gestation #2 and the grow-finish building #3. It is necessary to irrigate via a center pivot system to cropland from the third cell of the lagoon.

All sows, replacement gilts, and herd boars are immunized for parvovirus, leptospirosis, and erysipelas and weaned pigs are immunized for erysipelas. Sows are immunized prior to farrowing to help prevent baby pig diarrhea. All animals are routinely treated for mange and internal parasites. Baby pigs are routinely given supplemental iron injections.

The Boar Test Station was built in 1987 to collect growth data on producer-owned boars. The unit continued to serve that purpose until 1994, when participation declined to a level that could no longer sustain the unit. It has since been serving swine research and teaching needs and is currently managed as part of the overall Swine Unit.

We have 2-20 pen and 1-10 pen early weaning modular units used to bring in outside genetics into the system for nutrition testing. Each pen in these units are 4' x 4'.

The main building at swine evaluation consists of two wings for growth studies. The east wing has 16 5.5 metabolism cages and six floor pens to hold animals. The west wing has 32 pens that will hold six pigs from growing to finishing.

An open-front facility with outside feeding-floor consists of 12 pens with a capacity of 20 pigs per pen.

The Swine Environmental Research Building (SERB) has 12 rooms. Each room contains 12 pens that will house five pigs/pen from wean to finish - view a diagram of a room. Each room has two separate pits for environmental research projects. The total pig capacity is 720 head wean to finish. This building contains an office, laboratory, show facilities, restroom, feed room, feed and equipment storage room and is isolated from the main swine unit to allow for outside source pigs.

Take a photo tour of the Swine Unit

Department of Animal Sciences, 270 S Russell Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4808

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