Which Approach Works Best?
Renovation is more common with smaller farms; expansion is embraced by larger farms, and new construction is divided more evenly between the two.
New construction promises the best end result, as you have total control over the footprint of the barn and can design the gestation area without compromise.
This option, however, requires the availability of appropriately permitted land for construction. Expansion is most often used when an existing stalled barn is not totally depreciated or defunct and there is adjacent land available for building. The existing crates can be used as post-implantation stalled housing for sows early in gestation, and later in gestation animals are housed in pens located in a newly constructed addition.
However, not all farms have the luxury of expanding their herd and a market for more piglets. Finally, renovation or retrofitting is used when it is impossible to expand the footprint of the gestation building. It always requires some degree of compromise, as existing attributes of the building may not be easily altered and can impact the layout of the barn.
Location of solid areas of flooring would be the most common example of compromise encountered when converting a partially slatted stall barn to ESF.