Traveling lab to train hog farmers

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COLUMBUS – A a state-of-the-art mobile ventilation laboratory will help train Ohio’s hog farmers on setting and adjusting ventilation in modern hog barns.
The ventilation lab, an 8-by-9-by-12 foot trailer, monitors items such as temperature, fan performance, air inlets, velocity and humidity, and essentially serves as a mini-barn on wheels.
The mobile lab was built during the summer and fall of 2007 and was introduced at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Ohio Pork Producers Council board of directors.
Developed by Ohio State University’s Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, the ventilation trailer will begin its trek across Ohio in January for meetings and training sessions with hog farmers.
“Today’s modern hog barns rely on complex ventilation systems to maintain the comfort level of the animals,” said Dick Isler, executive vice president of the council.
“The mobile lab provides our farmers with an unmatched level of continuing education and its mobility allows us to take this valuable training directly to our farm communities.”
The voluntary training includes a classroom session to teach basic animal care needs and the role of ventilation. Hands-on programs allow participants to learn how to properly operate the equipment so they can understand and manage the system.
Ohio has 4,000 hog farms, nearly all of which rely on climate-controlled, state-of-the-art indoor barns to raise their animals.
These production facilities allow farmers to closely monitor feeding practices and animal diets. They also protect hogs from extreme temperatures and predators.
“Constructing the mobile ventilation laboratory was a great opportunity for our students to understand the essential role ventilation plays in establishing a positive indoor climate for these animals,” said Mike Brugger, OSU associate professor emeritus and project leader.
He said OSU representatives also will use the trailer to train animal science and veterinary care students at the university.
In addition, OSU is working with other states so that they can use the trailer for their animal care training programs.
Ohio ranks ninth in the nation for pork production. The state produces about 805 million pounds of pork each year, with a gross on-farm income value of $405 million, and millions more in indirect benefits to local communities and the state’s economy.

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