Friday, August 13, 2010

Building a corral, part 2

A few days ago I wrote that I was starting to build a corral to allow me to manage the animals in my herd more efficiently.   Today I was doing sanity tests to make sure that it would work with the various types of animals that I have.   There are differences in pen designs for different species of animals. 
Click on the image for a bigger version. 
Holding area 1 is 16' wide by 60' long.  holding area 2 is roughly 20x30, holding area 3 is 30x25.  the crowding gate feeds into a chute which has a side passage for a scale or squeeze chute.  Most of the time you'll just use the straight shot into the loading dock, but other times you'll direct them into the scale/squeeze area for work or to weigh them. 

I want to be able to use this facility for animals I've just recently purchased at auction, for the management of my herd, and to load animals for market.  The scale is so that I can show customers the animals weight, and verify what the conversion ratio is between live weight at the farm and hanging weight at the cutting facility.
There's a gate (not shown) between the chute and holding area 2, so that I can run animals through the chute and either load them or put them back into holding, allowing me to sort through my herd by weight, for instance.
 This is the view into the chute area.  the crowding gate is on the left.  Where the panels are will be solid walls, and that piece of plywood will be the gate that directs animals into the scale area, behind the white board on the right. 

I put this up so that I could run sows and cows through the setup.  I wanted to make sure that they wouldn't balk and would flow nicely through the setup before I went further.  Much easier to rework at this stage than later. 
This is the crowding gate at full-crowd -- covering the end of the chute to the scale area.  the view to the left of the white board is the scale area.  I ran a pig and a cow through this a few times to make sure that they'd go in without trouble.  It worked. 
There's enough space to allow a good sightline, so that the animals going through can see the Temple Grandin recommended 3 body lengths  The picture above is from the scale area back into the crowding gate area. 

Sanity tests complete, animals move in and out of the skeleton corral correctly.   Next step is to construct the radius turn into the loading dock and then corral railings.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce,
Seems like a neat and practical setup; should really make things efficient for you. Roughly how many pigs, sheep or other livestock, that this corral can be utilized for, do you have currently; how many of each do you produce a year?
If you don't mind me asking, what was the total cost and man hours to build it?
Just wondering what sized operation it has to be to justify the expense of such a structure.

Friend

Bruce King said...

My farm is spread out over a couple of parcels right now, so to utilize them I'm constructing small loading facilities at each. Some of the parcels are in the flood plain and that means there's some possibility each year that I might have to evac on short notice.

I'll work up the cost on completion but I'd guess around $3200 all said and done, including labor. In the event of a flood I could
Lose my pig herd which alone is worth quite a bit, both in time and in money. Plus really looking forward to being able to safely work the herd.

I'm running 9 cows 70 sheep 100 pigs and various poultry at this point.

Bruce King said...

Let me pit this another way. The corral
Cost me 32 Weaner pigs, or the output from a good sow for 1 year. And safeguards the other 39 sows

dinkleberries said...

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I figure you earn around $3000 per sow per year after feed is subtracted?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response; didn't even think of the whole flood plane issue that you have.
Didn't know that your farm was spread out over several parcels.. interesting.

Friend

Bruce King said...

Being spread out is a function of the price of the land. I'm interested in purchasing more, and from time to time it becomes available at a price I consider good. So I'll buy a 5 or 10 acre parcel, install a loading/unloading facility, and then either rent it to folks who want to graze their own animals (horses primarily) or cows, or graze my own ruminants on it.
Market price for horses on basic pasture is $50/horse/month. The horse owners take care of them, pretty trouble free way to have some income off the bare land. Holding pattern until something more lucrative comes along.
I do worry when I rent to horse owners that I'll get stuck with the horses if they end up not paying. There is basically no market for unknown horses; saw a number sold at the auction I went to a few weeks ago for $10. Doesn't even pay for the diesel to get them to the auction.
Less worry with cows or sheep or goat owners. Good market for those animals if I end up with them.

Bruce King said...

Dinkle, If a sow produced 16 pigs, and all weaned, and I sold them all for $100 each, I'd get $3200. That's the gross sale amount. My net profit is much lower when I include the cost of feed, shelter, fencing, labor, boar and less-than-optimum births. I've been working with my pig herd to increase number of pigs per litter and survival to wean rates but its a slow process.

Anonymous said...

If this corral makes your life easier then it doesn't matter how much it cost. "Time is money". The only question I have is if you have 39 sows, how come you only have a hundred pigs total. It sounds like you sell alot of weaners but you must finish pigs also. How many sows farrow per month on average?

dinkleberries said...

oh, you mean 16 piglets twice a year, right? And now I see my figure is screwed up as I'm sure it takes more than $200 per year to feed a lactating sow. Well hopefully the animals are at least paying their own way and farm type expenses. I'm trying to raise muscovies and I think I'm doing a better job feeding the rats than anything else. Anybody got a good way to catch them and anybody want to buy them once their caught?? lol HATE 'em!!

Bruce King said...

I've been able to sell the vast majority of pigs produced at wean this year, at prices I've been happy with; I have around 50 piglets today that are less than 4 weeks old, and I've been working on my breeding so that I produce 3 litters a month on average to provide a steady supply of pigs year-round.
I try to retain a few pigs a week to provide for finished pig sales, but in the summer i get cleaned out of the 40-100lb pigs as bbq pigs. Memorial day, 4th of July, Labor day, june weddings, all sorts of events that folks want to roast a pig at.

The market for pigs drops in oct-nov, so most of the small pigs that I have now I'll keep instead of selling at lower prices, and they'll be the finished pigs I'll sell next spring. The pigs that are born in november/dec/jan will become next years fair and early spring weaner pigs, and the cycle continues.