Ed Reed has a good name in the pork industry, especially in Michigan. Hailing from a beautiful little place on the western side of the Big Mitten called Marcellus, Ed left the life of a pulp-and-paper professional to begin raising pigs farrow-to-finish in a venture he says has been like having one long start-up business.
Part of his feeling of being in a start-up probably comes from his willingness to innovate and try new products. He has had his fingers in a lot of pies - including serving as president of the Michigan Pork Growers' Association, a board member of GreenStone Farm Credit and working tirelessly to promote sustainable practices among pork operations in his jurisdiction.
One of the new products tested at Reed Family Farms recently was Agri-Rok.
The Achilles heel of any swine barn - farrow, gilt, gestation or finish - tends to be the concrete areas around and below feed/water supplies. Between the liquid feed, the particularly acidic quality of pig waste and the pigs' tendency to root at everything, you have a unique challenge when it come to keeping up with pig house floor repairs. Finding a product that would work well for ongoing small repairs as well as new construction without creating a long downtime is quite a boon. And as a bonus, finding one that a single handyman can put down by himself is particularly useful.
After using it in a variety of small repairs beginning in 2013, Ed commented, "We have found Agri-Rok to be a cutting edge hard rock concrete solution for multiple uses to include finishing barn floors, gestation barns, troughs, etc. A quick and economical installation which is easy to feather."
One of the biggest benefits, he says, has been Agri-Rok's staying power. Pigs are frustratingly efficient at rooting up all manner of coatings, sealers and overlays, making it tough to keep a good barrier protection on the concrete. They can even chip bonded epoxy right off the floor within a year or two. But they've met their match when it comes to Agri-Rok. Ed is pleased to note the pigs haven't succeeded in damaging the Agri-Rok surface despite their best efforts.
A snout-resistant concrete overlay. Who knew?
It's no secret in the dairy business: as your floor goes, so goes your herd. A well-maintained surface on the dairy parlor and feed trough floors can be the difference between sanitary conditions for healthy cows and expensive herd cullings due to lameness and bacterial issues.
There are few stretches of concrete in a dairy operation which take the same beating as the hard-working milking parlor floor. The cream surface can be eaten away in a matter of months, exposing the larger aggregate and creating a whole host of problems, starting with inspections. Sanitation inspectors tend to give bare concrete in the milk house a pretty universal thumbs-down.
Epoxy coatings have been the name of the game for years when it comes to protecting dairy floors, but there've always been a few logistical hiccups. Epoxy is smelly, difficult to prepare for, expensive and takes a long time to cure - especially on cold wet refrigerated floors. The process of applying a good epoxy coating is tough to manage for most farms. You've got extensive surface prep, cure time between coats and the hassle of dealing with a two-component hazardous chemical. Getting the fumes out of the building can be even more of a strain on the time budget. Add in the need for experienced contractors to do the application and that floor gets to be one of the biggest investments in the whole barn.
That's why a super-dense corrosion-resistant concrete overlay like Agri-Rok can solve a lot of problems. A good powerwashing is usually all it takes to prepare the old floor, you can mix and pour the self-leveling overlay with nothing more specialized than a drill mixer, a gage rake and a squeegee, it's odorless and - the best part of all - cures to cow-traffic readiness in less than six hours. No expensive work crews, cure delay, ventilation of hazardous fumes or significant production loss. Add a good sealer and you have a floor ready to shrug off pretty much anything a cow can throw at it. Which can be quite a lot.
Agri-Rok doesn't depend on brand-new technology to work it's magic. The fine-ground quartz aggregate used in Agri-Rok to give it excellent corrosion-resistant properties isn't so much a new idea as an old idea done right. Because quartz is an anhydrite of an acid (orthosilicic acid, H4SiO4), it's extremely resistant to all acids except hydroflouric acid, which most people aren't going to have lying around to pour on their floors. Add in the polymers and other chemical-resistant components bolstering Agri-Rok's cement mix and you wind up with a material two or three times stronger than conventional concrete - which lets you use it in anything from a thick pour to a feather-edge repair.
This means if you have any situation involving corrosives eating a concrete floor - silage juices, cow waste, sanitizing chemicals and the like - Agri-Rok has a good chance of being the answer you need to repair the damage.
Take a quick look at this video to see an Agri-Rok dairy farm repair in action. Thanks for stopping in!