Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Managing the Unseen Employee, the Ventilation System

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

David Stender, Swine Program Specialist  serving Cherokee, Crawford, Harrison, Ida, Lyon, Monona, Osceola, O'Brien, Plymouth, Shelby, Sioux and Woodbury; also assisting swine producers in SW Iowa.,
Contact information:
Cherokee County Extension, 209 Centennial Dr. STE A., Cherokee, IA  51012-2119
Phone: (712) 225-6196
Cell: (712) 261-0225

With Jay Harmon, Ag Engineer, ISU.

Desired Changes
Complete objectives for all that apply

Learning- Managing the ventilation system for reduced energy use, improved air quality resulting in pig performance increase.
Actions- Producers will properly set ventilation controllers, keep the system in peak operating condition, remove air intake restrictions, limit ventilation air leak, and practice improved pig observation husbandry skills.
Conditions – Reduced energy use on NW Ia swine systems, healthier employees, and economic development through increased pig performance resulting in higher profit.

Relevance (Maximum 250 characters)
(Issue: Why is it important to address this with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Swine confinement operators are pressured to keep up with the advances in technology.  Principals in ventilation are poorly understood resulting in stressed pigs that tend to grow slower and become more susceptible to disease outbreak. 

Additionally, energy consumption is directly related to fundamentals in ventilation and the ability to apply these fundamentals correctly.  Energy use reduction is important for producer profitability and has the benefit of reducing greenhouse gas through reduced energy consumption.

Many hog production systems in Iowa are large and usually have independent training utilizing internal staff.  Partnering with these larger swine systems can be an advantage to ISU Extension and to the swine industry in Iowa as collaboration between the University and these local swine producers has potential to yield great benefits to both parties. 

Producers will properly set ventilation controllers, keep the systems in peak operating condition, and remove air intake restrictions, limit ventilation air leak, and practice improved pig observation husbandry skills.

As result of these workshops, the pigs will be healthier, more efficient; the air in the facility will be fresher and healthier for workers.  Additionally, energy use will be reduced.

Response (Maximum 250 characters)
(from Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

Three separate workshops were held fall and winter of 2007 for 115 producers, veterinarians and agricultural professionals.  One was an all day workshop for 12 producers using the hands-on demonstration building.  One session was an hour topic for 68 producers at a swine management workshop and the third was a half day training for 35 producers in a large production system.

Results – desired changes (Maximum 250 characters)
( specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions)  Describe how outcomes were measured.

In a post session survey producers listed the changes that took place in their operation.  The following lists some examples of changes made because of the program:  One producer learned different ways to ventilate differently during seasonal changes: warm weather vs. cold weather, & pulling moisture in winter vs. pulling the heat out during summer; Another
was able to review ventilation in barns and was able to take many ideas back to implement for better function;  A producer said  he will calculate how many CFM it would take to cool off the barn;  Another application cited was that the knowledge that a mild wind will chill a new born pig resulting in a change with his farrowing ventilation;  David brought a lot of new information to me, most has been implemented into our barns;  A producers simply said ‘good ideas and things to take back to the farm’;  A participant said it helped by letting us know the functions of  ventilation and we now correct things that are restricting air flow;  Others referred to changes in how to set up programming for different barns, how to change air velocity to 800 rpm, how to regulate static pressure, and how to reduce humidity in half by heating up air 18º.   From the 16 operations that estimated benefit, one operation reported a hundred dollar benefit; four operation reported $500; four reported $1000; four $2500 and three operations said the benefit of a ventilation workshop was worth $5000.


Public Value (now or future) (Maximum 150 characters)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Three years later I talked to 2 producers on separate occasions that participated in the workshops.  One has records to show LP gas usage in their large sow unit dropped from an annual level of 22,000 gal to less than 10,000 gal in 2010.  Another past participant told me that his utility bill was $10,000 less per year.   This project is continuing and impacting more operations through the many partners that help make it happen today.   Data from record closeouts from a large system showed improved performance and reduced deathloss following the workshop.  Cleaner air in the barns will help improve worker health, pig performance, and operation profitability.  Reduced energy use will reduced greenhouse gases while increasing producer competitive position and profitability.


Ensuring Profitable Producers
Helping Rural Iowans Prosper
Climate Change
Sustainable Energy

Fiscal Year


Major Partners or Collaborators

Project a cooperative effort with University of Nebr.; South Dakota State University; University of Minn.; Iowa Pork Producer Association and the Iowa Pork Industry Center.  Original team was Jay Harmon, Mike Brumm, Rick Stowell, Larry Jacobson and Dave Stender.


Page last updated: June 22, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,