Source: IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Jul 1, 2002
Project End Date
Jun 30, 2005
Grant Year
Project Director
Honeyman, M. S.
Recipient Organization
2229 Lincoln Way
AMES,IA 50011
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Alternative livestock housing structures could be more environmentally benign and more positive for animal well-being. The purpose of this project is to: 1) further educate agriculturists in other location about hoop barns, 2) document hoop barn use with other species, and 3) refine the management of hoop barns within a total system.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Knowledge Area
307 - Animal Management Systems;

Subject Of Investigation
3510 - Swine, live animal;

Field Of Science
3100 - Management;
Goals / Objectives
1. To prepare a comprehensive manual of practical applications and best management practices of hoop barn use for swine production. 2. To collect information on uses of hoop structures for species other than finishing swine and to develop case study fact sheets to disseminate the information about other species to the public. 3. To establish a network of producers and demonstration sites and hold a national workshop on Hoop Barn Swine Production. 4. To begin to evaluate the hoop barns as a total pork production system. 5. To begin to develop humane, medically acceptable and economically feasible protocols for using hoop barns to raise disadvantaged and light weight pigs that are segregated from the main flow of pigs for welfare, medical and production reasons. 6. To begin preparations to define the influence of finishing pigs in hoop barns on the color, texture, and water holding capacity of fresh pork and to determine the effect of interaction of genetic lines and production systems on pork quality traits. 7. To begin to systematically investigate experienced hoop structure farmers' perceptions of the animal welfare benefits and limitations of hoop structures.
Project Methods
1. The manual will cover topics on the hoop barn construction and siting, managing the pigs, managing solid manure, budgets, marketing, phases of pig production, advantages and disadvantages, and other uses. 2. Companies marketing hoop barns and extension personnel throughout the United States will be contacted to find persons using hoop barns for species other than swine. These uses will likely include: sows, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, ostriches, horses and rabbits. The owners will be contacted and these sites will either be visited or a phone interview will be conducted to gather information about the required management procedures to make the system successful, including advantages, and disadvantages. Photographs will be gathered of such systems. Animal production specialists will serve as a resource for collecting general management information. 3. Convene a national Hoop Barns for Swine Production workshop for producers and other stakeholders. The workshop will have a plenary session and break-out sessions on swine farrowing and gestation, swine finishing, animal behavior, environmental impacts, and marketing. 4. The hoop barn pork production system evaluation will evolve as information becomes available from the specific components of the system. Components of the system will include the following items: enterprise production efficiency, such as feed efficiency, average daily gain, marketability, etc.; manure management, manure value, and practices for improved manure handling as well as reduced environmental impacts from alternative manure disposal methods; animal health and disease events, including information on parasite levels; air quality and potential environmental issues; pork quality and value; variability of pig growth and potential economic impacts; and marketing pork products from alternative production systems with specific attributes. The production system approach will incorporate factors involved in pork production ranging from provision of inputs, producing the animal, and then potential markets and effective use or disposal of products produced (such as manure) during the production process. 5. We propose to use hoop structures with the standard one pen per structure configuration to house disadvantaged pigs in order to provide a more comfortable environment due to the deep-litter bedding system 6. Preparations will begin to use production, composition and quality traits to compare the response to housing systems of a line of pigs representing modern lean growth genetics to that of a 'meat quality' line. Each line of pigs will be represented in each housing system. 7. Because it is difficult to establish the universe of hoop structure users and because we are interested in farmers' motivations and interpretations (the 'whys' and 'hows' as much as the 'whats'), we propose to conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with a purposely-selected sample of 12 hoop structure farmers in Iowa.

Progress 07/01/02 to 06/30/05

The primary focus of this project was to conduct a National Conference on Hoop Barns and Bedded Livestock Systems and a Scientific Symposium. These workshops were held September 14 and 15, 2004 in Ames, Iowa. The meetings were designed for producers, educators, animal health professionals, scientists, and extension staff. Approximately 330 individuals from 10 countries and 14 states attended the meetings. There were 13 co-sponsors of the event. Educational materials were prepared for the meetings as stand alone pamphlets in conjunction with the MidWest Plan Service. There were three pamphlets on swine, one on beef cattle, one on dairy and one on horses, sheep, and ratites. The pamphlets are listed in the publication section of this report. The pamphlets are available on-line or printed via the MidWest Plan Service, Ames, Iowa. There were also 15 exhibitors at the meetings.

The meetings were well attended and well received. A portable virtual reality unit was demonstrated that showed air flow in bedded hoops barns. The evaluations were positive with comments focused on practical management applications of hoop barns, niche marketing, and animal bhavior. To date the MidWest Plan Service reports the following distribution from September, 2004 through February, 2005. Swine Finishing AED41 - 400 copies, Swine Gestating AED44 - 396 copies, Swine Farrowing AED47 - 388 copies, Beef Cattle AED50 - 721 copies, Horses, Sheep, Ratites AED52 - 371 copies, Dairy Cattle AED51 - 381 copies. For a total of 2,657 copies distributed in five months.


  • Brumm, M.C., J.D. Harmon, M.S. Honeyman, J.B. Kliebenstein, S.M. Lonergan, R. Morrison, and T. Richard. 2004. Hoop Barns for Grow-Finish Swine. Rev. Ed. AED41. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 24 pp.
  • Harmon, J.D., M.S. Honeyman, J.B. Kliebenstein, T. Richard, and J.M. Zulovich. 2004. Hoop Barns for Gestating Swine. Rev. Ed. AED44. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 20 pp.
  • Lammers, P.J., M.S. Honeyman, and J.D. Harmon. 2004. Alternative Systems for Farrowing in Cold Weather. AED47. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 11 pp.
  • Shouse, S., M. Honeyman, and J. Harmon. 2004. Hoop Barns for Beef Cattle. AED50. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 15 pp.
  • Harmon, J.D., M.S. Honeyman, and B. Koenig. 2004 Hoop Barns for Hoses, Sheep, Ratites and Multiple Utilization. AED52. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 7 pp.
  • Kammel, D. 2004. Hoop Barns for Dairy Cattle. AED51. MidWest Plan Service. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA. 16pp.

Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

The primary focus of this project was to develop educational materials and networks of producers and experts in preparation for a national conference on alternative bedded livestock systems to be held in Iowa during September 2004. An extensive list of contacts and invitees for the national conference has been developed. The environmental effect on pork quality comparing hoop buildings and standard ventilated confinements was conducted. On two different slaughter days, 40 carcasses were measured for backfat, hot carcass weight (HCW), and loin depth. Loins of each group were excised. Hoop-finished pigs had higher HCW and firmness values (P<0.05) compared to the confinement-finished hogs, but there were no other differences noted. A literature review of the social science research on farm animal-human interactions and on farm animal welfare concerns has been conducted. Extended, qualitative interviews with 14 swine producers using hoop barns have been completed and are being analyzed. Progress on the Hoop Barn Livestock Manual has occurred. Major updates of existing materials on finishing and gestating swine are complete. New pamphlets on swine farrowing and breeding, dairy and beef cattle, and other species are in progress. The manual will be released at the conference. To identify performance-challenged pigs early (pre-weaning), 100 sows were closely monitored during farrowing. Birth order, birth weight, teat nursed, immunoglobulin level, weight gain, and pig gender were measured on approximately 1,000 piglets. The pigs were tracked through finishing to market. The piglet data set is being compared to finishing performance, to find early indicators of subsequent performance. Also two completed studies were analyzed and reported. One comparing finishing pigs in bedded hoops to pigs fed in confinement, and the other evaluating feasibility of placing early weaned pigs in hoop barns in warm seasons.

Nearly 800 farmers in Iowa have constructed more than 2,200 hoop barns for swine in a relative short span of 6-7 years. Most of the barns are used for finishing pigs. The group has authored numerous publications in scientific, engineering, technical and popular press. The scientific and production base for high value niche pork is being generated by the work of this group. Several educational presentations have been made including an update on hoop structures for swine research to farmers at a meeting in Kalona, Iowa, March, 2003; a presentation on feeding small grains to swine in hoops at the annual meeting of Practical Farmers of Iowa, January 2004. The work will continue to integrate hoop barns and alternative production systems into long-term sustainable agriculture.


  • Honeyman, M.S., and J.D. Harmon. 2003. Performance of finishing pigs in hoop structures and confinement during winter and summer. Journal of Animal Science 81:1663-1670.
  • Larson, M.E., M.S. Honeyman, and J.D. Harmon. 2003. Performance and Behavior of Early-Weaned Pigs in Hoop Structures. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 19(5):591-599.
  • C. Clare Hinrichs and Rick Welsh. 2003. The effects of the industrialization of U.S. livestock agriculture on promoting sustainable production practices. Agriculture and Human Values 20:125-141.
  • Honeyman, M.S. 2003. Extensive bedded indoor and outdoor pig production systems in USA: Current trends and effects on animal care and product quality. 54th annual meeting European Association of Animal Production, Rome, Italy. Book of Abstracts: 9:165.

Progress 01/01/02 to 12/31/02

This is the first progress report for this project and represents only a partial year. Work on the project began during the last half of 2002. An interdisciplinary group, known as the Hoop Group, consisting of seven faculty members is working on the project. This interdisciplinary group has members representing animal nutrition, animal housing and environment, community and sociological interaction, meat quality, manure management, animal health, and business analysis. Based on the objectives, the progress achieved includes: Objective 1: A Hoop Manual. The team has developed an initial outline of the manual and has contacted the MidWest Plan Service for a bid to contract the writing, production, and dissemination of the manual. Also a full-color educational leaflet on hoops for swine was prepared and distributed at the Iowa Pork Congress and the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual meeting held in January, 2003. A display that focuses on extending results to user groups is also being designed. Objective 2: Other species in hoops. Extension staff across the nation have been contacted about possible sites using hoops for livestock species other than pigs. The results have been positive. For example horse, ostrich, and dairy cattle sites have been located. Plans also include contacting hoop barn manufacturers to help identify the alternative uses of hoop buildings. Objective 3: National Hoop Workshop. The tentative dates are set for 2004. Plans include using the workshop to introduce and distribute the hoop manual. Additionally, the following objectives will be started during this project: Objective 4: Hoop pork production system analysis. A research assistant is being recruited and then this portion of the project will commence. Objective 5: Humane swine systems. A graduate research assistant has been hired and the project planning is underway. The project will identify risk factors and potential intervention strategies for reducing mortality and culling of growing pigs. Currently, a literature review is in process. Projects are expected to begin in the spring of 2003. Objective 6: Pork quality. This activity is in the planning stages. Some preliminary work has begun to aid in more detailed planning. Objective 7: Farmer perception survey. A research assistant is actively conducting farmer surveys about their perceptions of hoop barns used for swine.

Hoop barns are low-cost and versatile. They generate solid manure which has less risk of manure spills and provide humane bedded environments for livestock. The low cost and versatility make hoop barns attractive to farmers who have small or medium-sized livestock operations. Livestock housed in bedded hoop barns often qualify for higher value niche markets. The educational leaflet is receiving wide exposure. It focuses on information known about hoop pig production.


  • Honeyman M, J Mabry, C Johnson, J Harmon and D Hummel. 2002. Sow and litter performance for individual crate and group hoop barn gestation housing systems: a progress report. ASL-R1816, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.
  • Larson B, J Kliebenstein, M Honeyman and A Penner. 2002. Economics of finishing hogs in hoop structures and confinement: seasonal and annual comparison. ASL-R1817, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.
  • Larson B, J Kliebenstein, M Honeyman and A Penner. 2002. Economics of finishing pigs in hoop structures and confinement: a summer group under different space restrictions. ASL-R1818, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.
  • Honeyman MS, ZM Sullivan and WB Roush. 2002. Oat based diets for market pigs in deep-bedded hoop barns. ASL-R1819, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.
  • Hermann JR and MS Honeyman. 2002. Niman Ranch Pork and the ISU Allee farm: a case study. ASL-R1821, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.
  • Larson B and J Kliebenstein. 2002. Cost of Pork Production with Nonsubtherapeutic Use of Antibiotics. ASL-R1820, Swine Research Report AS-648, ISU Ext. Serv., Ames, IA.