Neighbors and Cass Crest hog barn partners mingled at an open house for the facility held Dec. 16. A steady crowd came by to check out the new facility, which should start feeding hogs in January. (Staples World photo by Mark Anderson)Three Cass Crest employees who will operate the barn were at the open house, from left, Dan Wentworth, Dave Labenz and Travis DiGiovanni. When running at full capacity, the facility will employ seven to eight full time employees and a few more part time employees. (Staples World photo by Mark Anderson)Andrea and Anthony DiGiovanni test out one of the hog crates during the Cass Crest hog facility open house. (Staples World photo by Mark Anderson)

Cass Crest hog facility opening soon

The newly constructed Cass Crest hog facility is nearly ready to start farrowing hogs. The first set of hogs is expected to come in early January.  The barn, a high tech, high health, top genetics barn will supply breeding sows to many other barns in southern Minnesota. Those barn operators are partners in building as well.

It’s built west of Leader on 80th St. SW, with one large barn connected to a farrowing facility.

Cass Crest representative Bill Crawford said that because it’s a high health barn, random visitors won’t be allowed once the hogs are in the barn. They held an open house for neighbors Dec. 16, to have an opportunity to come inside the barn and look around as construction was still in the process of being completed.

Crawford said when the barn is full, the facility will house approximately 2,000 animals. The primary purpose is to produce good mothers. They will look for genetics that produce large litters, have good temperaments, among other traits.

The facility allows the hogs a large floor to walk around at leisure. They’ re able to access their own individual feeding crates where an automated feeding system will pipe in high nutrition corn and soybean pellets.

Three employees had been hired by the day of the open house. Dave Labenz will be the manager, with 34 years of experience running hog barns. 

Labenz said the entire barn will be automated, where they can control temperature, set the amount of feed for each pig and if  needed they can individually manage each hog. All the sows have their own feed trough so they can eat at their own pace. The control panel can also be accessed by cell phone, so employees can make remote changes and be alerted if something goes wrong.

Travis DiGiovanni, another employee who has experience working at a hog barn, says it’s not hard to manage that many hogs, and with experience, workers can learn to spot a sick pig in the crowd. “You get to know them, if they’re off their feed or turn a pale color, you know something is wrong,” he said.

The sows will be artificially inseminated and the employees can check their pregnancy status with ultrasound.

Once the hogs are in the barn, there’ll be a slight increase in road traffic. They might average one load of hogs going out every week and two to three loads of feed coming in.

Staples World

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