#02-194

Complete

Date Full Report Received

05/03/2004

Date Abstract Report Received

07/20/2006

Investigation

Institution:
Primary Investigator:

The University of Nebraska conducted on-farm research trials in 2003 and 2004 to de-termine the impacts of zone-heating options for wean-to-finish operations. Modulated LP gas-fired brooders were compared to standard 250 W electric heat lamps, and quartered sheets of 3/8” OSB sheathing were compared to commercially available rubber floor mats in the replicated trials. Farm personnel were able to produce suitable thermal environments with both of the heating systems and mat types evaluated in this study without any extraordi-nary effort being required. Some minor differences were found in some temperature meas-urements between systems, but no effect on pig performance existed in the pigs coming out of the zone-heating periods.
Without an advantage in pig performance, the gas-fired brooders are at an economic dis-advantage due to higher equipment costs and low electricity prices in Nebraska (about 6.5 cents per kWh) compared to moderate gas prices (around 90 cents per gallon of LP), even though annual operating costs should be lower. Gas-fired heaters may have an advantage in regions where electricity prices are higher relative to natural or LP gas prices.
New OSB sheathing proved to be equally suitable to rubber as a floor mat during these trials in terms of pig performance. Although the wood sheathing is much less expensive initially than are rubber mats, the rubber mats can be readily cleaned and used again. In order to be cost competitive with commercially available rubber mats, the wood mats would probably need to be reused. Questions about the durability and sanitary condition of wood sheathing reused for floor mats remain unanswered at this time.