Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fair Oaks Pig Adventure

I recently visited the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure in Fair Oaks Indiana. The dream of the Adventure is to create a large scale pig farm that is accessible to the public so that anyone can see for themselves where food comes from. The facility will house 2700 sows (mother pigs) and should open in the summer of 2013.

My interest in this project is driven by the fact that my farm will be growing some of the baby pigs born here from the time they are weaned until they reach market weight.

As you can see it is not complete yet. This picture was taken 3/2/2013.

Visitor center to left, Gestation Barn in rear, Gilt Developer Barn on right

Visitors will arrive by tour bus from the reception area at the Fair Oaks Visitor Center and pull straight inside the building. The intent is to contain any diseases being carried by visitors inside the building (all the air will be filtered as it leaves the building) and away from the pigs. Since the farm is located 1 hour south of Chicago it is expected to recieve guests from all over the world. Preventing the spread of disease is a matter of national food security.

Visitor Center with bus door

Inside visitors can move through an educational display area to the viewing mezzanine of the breeding and gestation barn. As you can see the mezzanine provides a panoramic view of the pigs, the workers, the housing, and the equipment being used.

Breeding/Gestation Mezzanine

It is fun to watch sows

It is fascinating to watch. I could watch others work for hours.

Sow loafing pens

Sow feeder/sorter driven by individual electonic ear tags

Breeding stalls are used for worker safety and sow protection during the heat cycle. They allow for artificial inseminatin and prevent sows from fighting during the critical breeding time.

The construction crews are now racing against the due date of the first sows bred (early June) to complete the Farrowing Barn (the maternity ward). There is, obviously, a lot of work to do. The fork lifts need to be replaced with multiple walls, floors, penning, equipment, and all sorts of stuff that isn't there yet.

Each farrowing (birthing) room will have an observation window from a mezzanine area. With 200ish pigs being born every day a visitor won't have long to wait to see this miracle of life.

Future birthing room

walls will block this view as construction divides the space into rooms. Note the ventilation inlets in the ceiling and the fans on the outside wall that will provide regulated airflow to each room

Farrowing mezzanine with windows into each room

It is a big comfortable space for visitors

Here is a late arriving picture of the penning used in the birthing suites. Sows (mother pigs) are tightly confined during their 3 week lactation to provide for safety to the baby pigs and the care givers. There are many care giving activities during this three week period. The sow's primary urge at this time is to lie down and nurse.

view of public birthing room from viewing area

So, here's to the boys that make the noise........ with hammers and saws, let's cheer them on because the pigs are coming and the visitors will be welcome to come and see!

For more information here are some other links you might find interesting.

First sows arrive at Fair Oaks Pig Adventure
Breeding starts at Fair Oaks Pig Adventure
Construction at Fair Oaks Pig Adventure
Fair Oaks Websight, directions, etc.

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