Findings from a survey of finishing-barn management benchmarks with South Dakota pork producers

Katelyn M. Zeamer, Crystal L. Levesque, Erin L. Cortus, Robert C. Thaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Our objective was to conduct an external review of management benchmarks for growing/finishing pig barns. Materials and Methods: An external review of 23 finishing barns in South Dakota was conducted to understand the variability of common production practices among finishing barns in the Midwest, compared, where possible, to management benchmarks. The barn survey included quantitative and qualitative measurements, including pig well-being, pig space, feeder pan coverage score and feeder space, water flow and quality, pig floor space, air temperature variation, feed particle size and lysine concentration, and manure composition. Results and Discussion: Eighty-one percent of barns had <0.74 m2/pig, and 62% of barns had less than 0.7 m2/pig. Thirty percent of feed samples had particle size >650 μm. Lysine concentration in 13 feed samples (59%) were >10% different from expected. Feeder pan coverage scores were approximately 40% coverage. Well (groundwater) water had a greater amount of total dissolved solids in comparison to rural (or municipal) water (P < 0.05) with no other differences between water sources. Water flow rate was above the recommended rate in 79% of barns. Seventy-three percent of barns met or exceeded recommended pig:waterer ratio. Barn temperature varied based on outdoor ambient conditions, set-point temperatures, and mechanical versus natural ventilation systems. Manure nitrogen and phosphate concentrations were 6.87 and 3.08 kg/m3 of liquid manure, respectively. Implications and Applications: Variation exists between Midwest-based finishing barns. Based on this survey, producers need to pay additional attention to feeder adjustment, feed particle size, space per pig, and water flow rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-333
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project would not have been possible without the South Dakota pork producers that let us enter their barns and complete this survey. Funding for this project was provided in part by the South Dakota State University Ag Experiment Station.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists


  • grow-finish
  • management
  • production
  • swine


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