Items you will need
8, 7/8 inch solid shafts, each 7 foot long
2 rounded tubing end frames, 24 inches wide by 48 inches tall on each leg
2, 7/8 inch bowed floating bars, 6 foot long with 7 inch extension capability
Floating bar attachments
2 stainless steel door plates, 24 by 24 inches
4, 2-way hinges
2 latch devices
5 foot by 7 foot flooring panel
4 pipe footers
4, 18 inches by 24 inches stainless steel panels
2, 7 foot by 24 inches stainless steel panels
Hopper and waterer attachments
2 supplemental heat sources
These directions build a standard 5-foot-by-7-foot sow crate with an 18-inch piglet creep area on either side. Individual sows may require a smaller or larger confinement area. This crate is for use during farrowing only, and is not meant to house sows during gestation or during nursing after 4 weeks. Crated sows and piglets are vulnerable to rodent and other animal predation, and must be housed in a protected area. Ideal temperatures for sows average 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but piglets need temperatures averaging 85 degrees for the first 3 days of life, so differential heating and cooling controls may be necessary. Observe the sow and piglets in your new crate carefully to ensure that the piglets are gaining proper access for nursing, and that the sow is able to easily stand and lie down. Smooth all rough edges that may come into contact with the animals.
Choice of flooring is the most complicated aspect of designing your crate. Choose flooring that supports the sow's weight and provides traction but does not have rough areas that will damage the pigs' skin and feet. Many types of flooring are made specifically for hogs. Slotted floors allow drainage of urine and the 4 gallons of liquid manure that a sow and her litter can produce each day. Face the feed hopper and waterer toward the center aisle of the barn for ease of access. Allowing the sows to see each other reduces stress. Allow enough space behind the crates for daily solid waste removal.
Farrowing crates allow newborn piglets to nurse freely while reducing the danger of the mother sow crushing them. Unlike farrowing pens, crates completely restrict the sow's movement to standing up and lying down. They are only for use from birth through a maximum piglet age of 4 weeks, when the piglets are either weaned and the sow returned to group housing or, for free-range pigs, when babies and mother are turned out to pasture. There are many designs and options for farrowing crates. The directions presented here are for the simplest design to build.
Sow Area Side Panels
Weld two of the 7/8 inch, 7 foot long solid shafts approximately 12 inches apart to the top of each rounded end frame.
Weld one solid shaft to each end frame 17 inches from the ground on both longitudinal sides of the frame.
Weld one solid shaft to each end frame 12 inches above the bottom bar on both longitudinal sides of the frame.
Weld one solid shaft to each end frame 12 inches above the second bar on both longitudinal sides of the frame.
Attach a bowed floating bar to each of the bottom longitudinal bars. Attach them so that the floating bar extends into the crate when the sow is standing and slowly bows outward as she lies down. The floating bar allows the piglets to get out of the way as she lies down and allows them access to her nipples for nursing.
Doors and Floors
Affix the stainless steel door panels to each end frame with the hinges.
Place one hinge at the top and one at the bottom for a side-swinging door or one at the left and one at the right for a bottom-swinging door. Side-swinging doors allow easier access.
Affix the latch devices to the side of each door opposite the hinges.
Affix the bases of the end tubing to the flooring, allowing 18 inches on either side of the sow crate frame. The method you use to attach the frame to the floor depends on the type of hog flooring you have selected, and the strength of the materials versus the strength of the sow. Typically, you will foot and bolt the end frames into the flooring.
Piglet Panels and Furnishings
Weld an 18-inch steel panel to each side of each end frame opposite the door panels.
Weld the 7-foot steel panels to an 18-inch steel panel on each side. This completes the piglet portion of the farrowing crate.
Affix the feed hopper to the sow door that will face toward the interior of the barn.
Affix the waterer to the sow door that will face toward the interior of the barn.
Affix a supplemental heat source above each piglet creep area (the 18-inch wide pen areas to either side of the sow crate). Ensure that the heat source is high enough from the floor that the piglets cannot come into contact with it.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images