DeKalb County is one of the leading pork-producing counties in Illinois. But if you drive around the county, chances are you won’t see any pigs. Where are they?
Pigs need shelter. Most pigs are raised in specially-designed buildings.
From the outside, a modern hog building looks like a long, low shed. Look more closely, though, you will see clues as to how the building is used.
- Curtains – Like any animal, pigs need plenty of fresh air. The sides of hog barns are not solid walls. Instead, each side consists of a half-wall topped by a long, continuous opening. If needed, vinyl or plastic curtains can be raised over the openings to keep out the cold.
- Fans – Large fans help keep fresh air constantly circulating within the building.
- Feed bins – Feed for the pigs is stored in bulk feed bins at the end of each building. From there, the feed travels through tubes which supply feeders inside the building.
Hog buildings provide places to eat, drink, sleep, relax, and socialize.
- Control panel – Computerized panels can control temperature, feeders, waterers, and the outside curtains.
- Pens – Pigs are usually kept in groups by size. This way, larger, stronger pigs can’t “pick on” smaller ones. Also, pens make it safer and easier for the farmer to check the health of smaller groups of animals.
- Feeders – Each pen has an automatic feeder which provides exactly the amount of food the pigs need, whenever they need it.
- Waterers – Every pen has automatic waterers which allow pigs to drink at any time.
- Misters – Pigs can’t sweat. Many hog buildings have overhead misters to spray the pigs with water in hot weather.
- Slatted floors – Pigs prefer to stay clean, but like any other animal, they urinate and defecate. Slatted floors allow waste to fall through the floor into deep pits below the building. This keeps the pigs cleaner and safely contains the manure until it can be used as crop fertilizer.