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Investing For The Future: Growing Forward 2 Funds

on October 3 | in Ag News | by | with No Comments

From a Release by Lois Harris for Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Guelph, ON – When his next-door neighbour’s farm contracted the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea

(PED) virus, John Van Engelen knew he needed to improve biosecurity on the hog farm that he  runs with his son, located in Lambton County.

He also knew that controlling access to barns and maintaining a clean environment inside are the  most effective ways to prevent disease from entering and spreading through hog herds. With  funding through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), he built a new, 18’ x 20’ entryway to his 240-sow  farrow-to-finish operation.

By installing a Danish entry system, Van Engelen not only increased his biosecurity, but also  better protected his animals’ health, kept his business thriving and maintained his 35-year record  of never having to de-populate his three barns. A Danish entry is the primary entrance room that  is attached to a production area of a barn. This system has distinctly separate “clean” and “dirty”

sides, separated by a solid barrier, to maintain sanitary conditions inside the pig barn.

John received $17,000 from the Growing Forward 2 PED Biosecurity Special Intake funding  assistance program. Overall project costs ran to $45,000, which was well over what he had  estimated, but as he says, “I’m happy with the result.” Building started in spring of 2014, and  was completed that fall. Van Engelen did all the inside design and construction work himself.

Controlled entry

A big sign politely telling everyone to respect farm biosecurity hangs beside a door with a  combination lock to control access to the barns. Anyone wishing to enter needs to call either Van  Engelen’s cell or home phone number, which are posted right on the sign. All other access points  to the barns are locked.

Shoes and boots off

One of the most critical sources of bringing disease in from outside is on boots and shoes, which  is why everyone coming into the barns needs to leave their street footwear on rubber mats in the  entry.

Lockers for clothes

A complete change of clothing is required before entering the barn. Larger lockers John bought  used from a local school were installed to accommodate coats and hats. Smaller, new lockers  inside the shower area are for clothes, underwear and socks.

Two shower stalls

For added biosecurity, barn visitors must shower upon entering and leaving the barn. Van  Engelen chose to install two shower stalls for speed and efficiency, for example, when the  veterinarian comes and both of them need to get into the barn at the same time. Clean towels are  always stocked in the shower area. The ‘Hog Heaven’ sign was a gift from his wife for  Christmas 2014.

The shower area is roomy and well-stocked with soap. It has heated floors for comfort. Once  inside, users can lock the entry and exit doors at the same time with a long piece of hard plastic  that spins from vertical to horizontal, an inexpensive innovation that Van Engelen thought up  himself.

Water reservoir

The need to have a constant supply of water is important on any livestock farm, and doubly so  with a Danish entry system. Van Engelen says that they have had trouble with water shortages in  recent years, so when he was designing the entry system, he included a 6,000 gallon reserve tank  running under the 8’ x 8’ x 16’ entry. The tank is fed from the farm well and has a float that  shuts off the pump when it is full. Directly above the tank opening is the plumbing for the  showers.

Clean clothes, boots and shoes

On the other side of the showers, Van Engelen has a good supply of coveralls, boots, and shoes  specifically for use in the barn.

Plastic everywhere for easy cleaning

To construct the inside rooms of the entry, Van Engelen chose to use the same type of panels that  he uses to separate his pigs in the barn. The panels are 39 inches wide and 103 inches long. They  do not rust, corrode, or otherwise be compromised, and they are easy to clean. In the barn, they  are used horizontally. In the entry, Van Engelen turned them on their sides and welded them  together using a special tool that melts the plastic to bind the seams.

Biosecurity good for everyone

Van Engelen’s biosecurity protocols include having a sign-in book in his office/laundry facilities.

Everyone who enters has to sign and date it. He also always asks visitors if they have recently  been on another hog farm.

His entry system is one of the more sophisticated designs; others can be completed at lower costs.

Anterooms can be as simple as a bench, which separates clean and dirty traffic and allows for a  change of boots and clothing. However, installing a full Danish entry system, as John has done,  provides the greatest level of risk reduction.

Van Engelen’s advice to anyone thinking of building their own Danish entry system is to budget  more than you think it will cost and to make sure you research other farms while figuring out  your own needs.

“We always had clean barns, but didn’t do a full biosecurity plan until the scare,” he says. “I  kind of went overboard with the construction, but our herd health is better now than ever before.”

In the end, he feels his project was a success, and he appreciates the funding he received from  Growing Forward 2.

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