Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Publications

Campus Units

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Animal Science, Economics

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Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Applied Engineering in Agriculture





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As global populations and affluence rise, there is increasing demand for energy, animal protein, and construction materials. In many cases, available resource pools are insufficient to meet growing market demands, resulting in increased prices and competition for limited resources. This study evaluates key construction resources needed to build different types and scales of Iowa swine production facilities. Two types of facilities — conventional confinement and hoop barn-based — within farrow-to-finish pig production systems scaled to produce either 5,200 or 15,600 market pigs annually are examined. Conventional confinement facilities are typical of pork industry practice in the United States and are characterized by individual gestation stalls and 1,200 head grow-finish buildings with slatted concrete floors and liquid manure systems. The hoop barn-based alternative uses bedded group pens in hoop barns for gestation and finishing. Five building materials: concrete, steel, lumber, thermoplastics, insulation, as well as crushed rock and diesel fuel used for building site preparation are considered. Land surface area required for buildings and pig production infrastructure are also compared. Relative market costs of newly constructed swine facilities are compared under several material price scenarios. Using hoop barns for grow-finish and gestation results in lower construction costs. Increasing the scale of pig production results in lower construction costs per pig space, however the construction costs per pig space for a 5,200 head hoop barn-based complex is less than the construction costs per pig space for a 15,600 head conventional confinement system. In terms of construction resource use and cost, hoop barns for swine are a viable alternative that are less dependent on the scale of production than conventional confinement facilities.


This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture 25, no. 4 (2009): 585–593. Posted with permission.



Copyright Owner

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers



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