Swine Barn

Swine Unit

Brian Ford

Brian Ford




The mission of this unit is to provide swine for undergraduate teaching, extension programs, and research in the areas of nutrition, physiology, genetics, management, behavior and welfare. The staff is comprised of the manager, assistant manager, three animal technicians, and several student laborers comprising about 2 FTE.

The breeding herd is made up of 240 sows and gilts with three to four boars for semen collection. Thirty litters are farrowed every four weeks. Eighty percent of these maternal line females (York x Landrace) are bred to terminal sire Duroc boars. The highest indexing 20% of sows are bred to York or Landrace boars to generate replacement females. All sows are bred by artificial insemination.

The main office and research building contains the worker's lockers, showers, offices and break room. This building also contains the swine unit's surgery suite, 48 individual housed nursery pig pens, 12 nursery pig metabolism pens, individual stalls for intensive projects, a walk-in cooler, and 2 rooms with 10 pens each (30 pigs/room capacity) on heating and cooling systems that have 100% environmental control within a temperature range of 65-95°F.

Breeding-gestation #1 contains 12 sow pens and animals are maintained in groups of 10-20, housed in an open-front building with partially slotted floor, and group fed once daily through gestation on solid concrete flooring in the pen. Brooder heaters provide supplemental heat during the winter within each pen. There are 6 additional boar or individual care pens in the center of this building. In breeding-gestation #2 there are 64 individual crates for breeding and gestating females and small pens for 40 more females plus 8 larger boar or individual care pens. The stalls allow for individual feeding throughout breeding and gestation. Geothermal air is used for tempering incoming air for both cooling and heating purposes in this facility.

Two separate farrowing buildings, each containing 36 crates are used on a rotating schedule that permits cleaning and disinfecting of buildings when empty. Each farrowing group consists of 30-36 sows giving birth over about a 6 day period. 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. Most birthing events are attended and piglets are towel dried to speed their warming and to ensure colostrum intake. Within 72 hours after birth all cross fostering is complete and piglets are processed (iron shots given, tails docked, needle teeth clipped, ears notched, and males castrated). Room temperature is maintained at about 68-75°F and piglet pads and heat lamps provide supplemental warmth for the baby pigs.

The nursery in each building has 32 pens and hold 6 to 10 pigs from weaning to day 35 post-weaning (about 40 lbs.). Pigs are fed using a 4 phase-feeding program during the nursery period. Room temperatures are stepped down weekly (86 – 76 °F) and are controlled with a 4–stage electronic controller for the heaters and fans in each room.

Pens in the growing-finishing area provide space (approximately 7-9 sq. ft./pig) for 8-10 pigs per pen in building #1. Grow-finish building #2 contains pens to hold 10-12 pigs/pen. Both grow-finish #1 and #2 are power ventilated with 13 fans each. Grow-finish building #3 is a curtain-sided, naturally ventilated building with 32 pens (5.5' X 10' each). This building is managed in an "all-in, all-out" fashion whereas GF 1 and GF2 have 2 or 3 farrowing groups per barn. For all 3 buildings: supplemental heat is provided when the room temperature drops below 60-75°F (depending on pig size); bagged or bulk feed handling is available; weighing of pigs is done on electronic digital scales in the center of each barn. A 6-phase feeding program is practiced in grow-finish from about 40 lbs. to market weight (280 lb.).

Manure from all buildings, except the isolation unit, drops into shallow pits under the floor and flows (pull-plug or flush system) 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, the grow-finish buildings, and the main research building. Lagoon water from the third cell is irrigated via a center pivot system to cropland adjacent to the swine facility.

All sows, replacement gilts, and herd boars are vaccinated for Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Erysipelas, Circovirus, Influenza, and PEDv in the winter. Sows are vaccinated prior to farrowing for Rotavirus, Clostridium, and E.coli to help prevent baby pig diarrhea. Weaned pigs are immunized for Mycoplasma and Circovirus. The Purdue swine herd is mange and lice free. Internal parasites are controlled through a deworming program throughout the pig's life cycle.

The swine evaluation unit main building has two inside wings. The west wing has 32 small pens to conduct grow-finish research (6 pigs/pen) and the west wing contains 16 wean-finish metabolism pens for research. There are also 12 outside pens that have solid concrete flooring with an open front building that uses straw bedding which are primarily used to house sows and gilts.

Purdue has 3 Double-L nursery barns (2-20 pen and 1-10 pen) for weaned pig research. These are on a separate site and can be used to bring in outside genetics into the system for research. Each building is all fiberglass and plastic inside with shallow manure storage pits and have pens in these units that are 4' x 4' and typically house 4-5 pigs per pen.

The Swine Environmental Research Building (SERB) is unique to Purdue and is the only swine facility in the US that can conduct environmental research at this scale. The building has 12 identical 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 manure pits and air sampling lines for gas emissions and environmental research projects. The total pig capacity is 720 head wean to finish. This building contains an office, laboratory, shower facilities, restroom, feed room, and equipment storage rooms and is isolated from the main swine unit to allow for outside source pigs.