I attended my first EuroTier show shortly after Hog Slat entered the European market roughly ten years ago. That first booth was humble, to say the least. This year was quite a bit different; the booth size has grown considerably along with the number of employees in attendance.
A decade ago Hog Slat wasn't sure how producers outside the U.S. would react to American building ideas like tunnel ventilation, box style feeders, total slatted flooring, and open rodded gating. At this year’s show I took the opportunity to speak with several of the Hog Slat country managers and ask them how they thought swine production had changed in their country with the introduction of U.S. style equipment.
First I spoke to Rafal Bozek, from Poland.
"Margins are tight for Polish producers; we have to be very efficient to even survive. Hog Slat brought ideas to our producers that allowed them to reduce capital costs and be competitive. One example is a naturally ventilation finishing house. Energy costs are high in Poland; we can build a total slatted house with curtains and chimney vents to lower operation costs. We also provide producers with the best quality slats available in Poland. Nothing fancy, just well built dry cast slats that pigs can walk on."
Rafal continued, "Same with gestation stalls and farrowing crates. A lot of the equipment was coming from Northern Europe, which can be complicated and expensive. Hog Slat's equipment is very practical and straightforward, only as much as it needs to be to get the job done."
Later I caught up with Romanian Country Manager, Daniela Minda and asked her the same question.
"We just finished equipping a couple of sow units this fall. While they aren't an exact copy of a U.S. unit, they have several features you would recognize like cool cells and tunnel ventilation. We have SowMAXs in the farrowing rooms, and the gestation is a combination of stalls and stanchions. The stanchions are U.S. style, simpler and less complicated than is the norm in Europe.
"The Hog Slat dry feeder is very popular, producers like the simple adjustment. One of the biggest influences we had is providing a quality concrete slat to use in total slatted finishing. In the past, I think many people thought a finishing floor couldn't be totally slatted because the pigs would have leg issues. We solved that problem."
Next, I sat down with Wendell Burge, representing Hog Slat in China and asked about the equipment in China.
Wendell explained, " American production methods match up better with the style of industry emerging in China. China has the same diversity of climate extremes in their production areas as the U.S. Since Hog Slat has experience building farms in the warm, humid coastal regions of Carolinas all the way to high plains of the Dakotas, we understand the differences in constructing farms in different climates."
"Again like the U.S, farms in China are very large and are managed by employees. One of the first changes we suggested was to reduce the number of buildings and build fewer, wider structures. Fewer buildings lowered construction costs and improved people and animal flow. We also changed the power ventilation from vaulted ceilings with chimney fans to flat ceilings with cross and tunnel systems and increased ventilation rates. Hog Slat builds facilities that enable Chinese companies to organize a systemic approach to managing their farms."
It was also interesting to see more than a few European manufacturers were exhibiting American style equipment at EuroTier. You didn't see that ten years ago. Hog Slat continues to the leader in providing producers in the U.S. and across the world with reliable, cost-effective production facilities.