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Best Shop Feature: Wash Bay

Wash bays in farm shops are more often than not an afterthought in design. Shop space takes preference. An inside wash bay is a nice feature if you have the room. Often, that bay ends up outdoors on a concrete pad.

The Bullerman brothers' priorities were just the opposite. The Adrian, Minnesota, operation desperately needed a professional wash bay for disease control in its 3,000-head farrow-to-finish hog operation. “We deliver pigs daily with a pair of semitrucks,” says Doug Bullerman, who farms with brothers Dale, Dean, Delbert, and David in the Son-D-Farm operation. “We wash each semitruck thoroughly after every delivery as well as other trailers and feed trucks that travel to our numerous hog buildings as part of our biosecurity plan.”

And washing those trucks was costing the operation upwards of $20,000 a year at a nearby truck wash. “That was incentive enough to build our own truck wash,” Doug says.

So when the brothers took to designing a shop in 2005 after years of working in a 30×60-foot shed with a dirt floor, their primary focus was the creation of the wash bay. After visiting numerous shops and truck washes, the family put their best ideas down on paper. From that brainstorming came the plan to put up the 60-foot-wide by 120-foot-long structure. The length of the building is oriented east and west.

A partition wall runs the entire length of the structure separating the shop (which is 35 feet wide and located on the south side of the building) from the wash bay (which is 25 feet wide).

Wash bay design

The wash bay was designed to easily accommodate a semitruck with a livestock trailer. “In fact, we use it to park trucks in at night over the winter so they are warm in the morning when we make our deliveries,” Dave says.

The wash bay's walls start with 4-foot-tall concrete slabs coated with a special epoxy-base paint. “The truck washes we visited prior to building this had mold growing on the walls from moisture the concrete had absorbed,” Dave says. “So we had the concrete waterproofed to prevent that. So far it has worked great.”

Atop that concrete are typical wood-frame walls. Those walls and the ceiling are sheathed with high-density polyethylene siding. The same siding also covers the shop walls and ceiling. “That siding cost more, but it's resistant to rot, rust, and impact,” Dave says. “It's easy to clean and doesn't get dinged up like metal siding.”

The wash bay's floor slopes fully to the back of the room and to a drainage sump.

Wash water is delivered through a choice of two hose reels. One reel hosts a 3-inch-diameter hose that turns out 50 gpm. “We use this high volume hose for the initial wash of trailers,” Dave says. “It readily removes all feces and bedding.”

After the initial washing, they want everything absolutely clean, so they use a high-pressure washer. “That hose delivers 4 gpm at 3,000 psi,” Dave says. “Disinfectant is injected into the water line as a final step to control disease.”

Waste disposal

Aided by the slope of the floor and high-volume washer, all debris and water readily flows to a drainage sump that leads to a drum separator found in a separate room at the back of the wash bay. “This system is similar to those in use at commercial truck washes,” Dave says. “It basically consists of a drum with grills in it that rotates. As it rotates, it separates solids from wash water.”

Solids are dumped from the separator into a stainless steel commercial fertilizer elevator leg. That leg elevates the solids, dumping them to the side for holding until they can be spread on fields.

Waste water is pumped into three 1,500-gallon septic tanks. These tanks are plumbed into a large drain field consisting of plastic leaching chambers with no gravel.

The thorough planning is also evident in the shop side of the Bullermans' complex. The shop is accessed through a pair of doors. The primary access is a 24-foot opening at the east end of the shop, which is used “for large equipment being prepped for planting or harvest,” Dave says. “Otherwise, the shop is used to park semitrucks overnight in the winter.”

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