Floor Slat Gap Cover Has Many Uses

A Danish company has designed and patented a slat gap cover to help pig producers comply with regulations and/or marketing standards in pig housing, writes Stuart Lumb for ThePigSite.
calendar icon 1 October 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

Brian Johannsen

Danish legislation related to piggery flooring is very detailed. Fully slatted floors are banned and new regulations, which came into being in January 2013, mean that producers have to increase the proportion of solid flooring in pens. In response, several companies have designed and manufactured slat gap covers in order that slatted areas can in effect become solid.

Brian Johannsen is a 43-year-old Danish tool-maker and injection moulder based in south-west Denmark. Seven years ago, he set up his own company and has specialised in manufacturing plastic extrusion products for the last two years.

After reading an article in the Danish farming press featuring slat gap covers, Mr Johannsen reckoned that he could design and produce a cheaper and more easily installable version and so he produced a number of prototypes for evaluation on a farm in Fyn by Denmark’s VSP (Videncenter for Svinproduktion / Danish Pig Research Centre).

VSP staff were surprised by the simplicity of the design, ease of fitting and the ingenious locking mechanism. Mr Johannsen had thought long and hard about how his covers might be permanently locked in place. He happened to recall an old picture of Vikings fighting using bows with barbed arrows, ingeniously designed to be practically impossible to remove from the victim’s body without inflicting severe pain and badly torn flesh. So why not make a locking mechanism like a barbed arrowhead?

After a few attempts, Mr Johannsen came up with a design (patent pending) which was simple yet effective and importantly, pig-proof (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Cross-section of slats and gap fillers/covers, showing the locking mechanism

Installation is very simple; the cover is placed between the slats and eased into place by simply treading down on it, or by hitting it with a rubber mallet.

The cover was initially produced to be used in slats with 18- to 22-mm gaps. However, Mr Johannsen also manufactures a cover to fit 14- to 18-mm gaps, with both widths generally being sold in four-metre lengths for ease of transportation, at a cost of between 35 and 40 Danish kroner (DKK) per metre. One UK customer has been supplied with 25-cm long strips.

As well as being used to reduce slatted areas the covers - which are smooth or have a ribbed profile - can be used in high-traffic areas such as in front of feeders to protect the edges of the slats as well as to prevent feed dropping into the slurry pits.

Veterinary specialist, Pia Conradsen, also recommends fitting the covers under nipple drinkers as drinking water containing weak acid can, over time, start to erode the slats, especially the slat edges.

She said: “Liquid feed often contains whey and this is acidic and again the covers can protect slats located next to the troughs from erosion.”

Figure 2. Slat-reducers in place in a pig pen

The UK's British Pig Executive (BPEX) has expressed interest in the covers and indeed, several metres were shipped by UK agent, Julian Smith ([email protected]), to a producer in south-west England who had to reduce the slatted area in his weaner house in order to comply with UK assurance regulations. The covers have now been fitted and the producer is now compliant, much to his relief.

Replacing slats can be a very expensive and time-consuming job and Mr Johannsen's simple gap cover is an ingenious and relatively cheap way of getting round this problem.

Further Reading

Go to our previous article on floor slot reducers by clicking here.

October 2013

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