Stainless Steel Pig Carrier

Stainless Steel Van Pan

We transport pigs each week to butcher inside our extended body Ford E-350 van. They get to travel in comfort on a bed of hay inside with the drive so they won’t get exposed to the extreme wind and cold which is most of the year in our climate.

The back half of the van is setup with a cage so that in the case of a sudden stop 1,500 lbs of pastured pork won’t come crashing forward towards the driver. This also protects the van from the pigs chewing on wiring or messing with the windows.

The big problem with the pigs in the van is they poop and pee during the trip. The salts and acids would eat away the metal of the van unless we protect it. For years we have had a fiberglass and epoxy pan that has done a good job of that but it was starting to wear.

Last year Will welded together a large stainless steel pan that fits in the back. This way all pig pee is directed back, over a flap and out when we clean out the van after each trip. This is one of the projects he has done on the fabricating machine he designed and built for bending, folding and cutting of metal. Doing this project was a practice for steel work in the butcher shop.

The stainless steel pan prevents rust, at least from the pigs. There is still the problem of the state of Vermont salting the roads – for that we undercoat each fall.

Why don’t we use a trailer? Very good question. Because our narrow, steep dirt roads are barely passible with the high riding van and it’s studded snow tires much of the year between ice, snow season (four to five months) and mud season (2 weeks on either end). A trailer would be too dangerous or simply not possible half the year. Carrying the pigs inside the van is also more fuel efficient and a lot simpler than driving with a trailer. This way they also get to listen to VPR and classical music on the trip.

Man the Torpedoes – Van mid-section
Coolers – Dog, pigs and freezer in van
Freezer score – Commercial Freezer in Van
Loading Pigs – Loading pigs in older van
New Econoline Van – Upgraded van
Ton of Peanut Butter – Back haul
Piglet Trip Accommodations – Piglet carrier
Archimedes Farewell – Big boar in van
Ambulance Here – Backup van
Delivery Sequencing – Back hauling efficiency

Outdoors: 25°F/14°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F

Daily Spark: The law of unintended consequences states that you will be punished by the people who mean to help you. Welcome to modern regulartocracy.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Stainless Steel Pig Carrier

  1. Adam says:

    You inspired me with another of your posts about the van to look at using my VW Eurovan in a similar fashion. I really hate pulling a trailer, even down here in the south. But your pig pee pan reminds me of a good, but off-topic, story:

    When I was in military pilot training a number of years ago, one of the lieutenants in another class bought an old panel van to use as a party bus. The idea was to have a designated driver to haul all the fellas from one party to another. He painted it up nice and pretty and made some other modifications. One of them was a male relief tube which he installed in the back corner, considerately thinking of all those who would have full bladders. Well, eventually the van was pulled over for some minor infraction one day. The back end was closed up but full of student pilots and friends. As the patrol car maneuvered behind the van to pull him over, the van driver noticed the patrol car’s wipers moving. Uh-oh. Of course, the officer started poking around to figure out where all that water came from and found the relief tube. That didn’t go over real well. Needless to say, the van’s days were numbered.

  2. Sally Hurst says:

    I have a Chevy conversion van that is my farm truck. It started out life, in 1988, as a fancy travel van, so has carpet inside. I’ve hesitated removing that carpet for sound reasons — afraid that road noise would be uncomfortable for all occupants. Have you had much trouble with noise?

    Did you just build the stainless steel box to fit inside the wheel covers?

    How did you attach the wire mesh to the interior walls and doors?

    Thank you

    • The steel mesh cage was welded together by Will and bolted onto the frame of the van to secure it in place so that it can’t slide forward in an accident. This fits between the wheel wells leaving a bit of storage space on either side. Additional mesh was bolted onto the door panels to protect the windows and doors from the pigs.

      The stainless steel pan fits inside the cage. Inside of that there is enough room to lay a sheet of plywood. This means we can carry two pallets of materials in the back plus one up in the middle section when we’re not hauling pigs.

      Our newer 2004 E-350 van runs very quietly. Much quieter than our previous 1996 E-250 van. Part of that is it is finished off on the interior and has insulation while the older brown van doesn’t have these amenities. I think that the E-350 engine is also quieter despite being a lot more powerful. We feel the power and appreciate it when backhauling!

      • Sally Hurst says:

        Thanks for the ideas. I use my van mostly for goats, hay, feed, and trash hauling (not all at the same time) so I don’t need quite so much reenforcement. I know the carpet has to go, but then I’m thinking plywood and vinyl flooring, and a metal mesh divider. Ahh, another farm project.

  3. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    “Regulartocracy” !!! Thank you and your daily spark for this word that promises so much utility!!! It ranks up there with Radley Balko’s “oblivions.”


  4. Patrick says:

    Your post is well timed inspiration. I have a Sketch-Up diagram on the desk now for an aluminum carrier that can easily roll on/off the truck (or lifted off). I found some pics online of carriers made to insert into the back of long-bed pickups, and was thinking of improving those designs with a bed pan like Will’s. Last year I did the carrier with wood, but it’s not a long-term option because it weakens as it moves on/off the truck. Like you, it’s tough to drag a trailer into the thick of the property, but everything is maintained to let my truck and tractor through.

    Problem is I need it done this month, along with about a dozen other projects all stalled by unusually cold weather this year. Time flies when the water is frozen.

    Thanks for the ideas.

    • That was what we went through too. Our carrier evolved over the past decade through several stages of wooden designs to the final stainless steel design. The wooden ones don’t keep the pee in and wear out quickly but they are a good way to test ideas. To improve the fluid tightness we fiberglass and epoxy painted the pan of the last wooden one.

      For a long time we had a removable carrier but have found that the ones that stay in the van are better for our needs. They also act as a strong shield to protect the driver from what ever we’re back hauling besides pigs. Heavy steel mesh is very good there. Our cage of mesh is made of two stock panels folded and welded together plus some additional stiffeners.

      Good luck with all your projects!

  5. Glenn says:

    VPR, great choice…I’ll bet they (the piggies) do a fair amount of squealing to some of those mic jockeys.. Can’t wait to hear of your first use of the butchery; you should all be very proud of your work. It’s a very thoughtful design and well executed construction.

  6. Peter says:

    How do you think spray-in bedliner would perform?

    • That would be polyurea and you can see a grey patch of it on the back bumper which I was testing. The stainless steel was cheaper and stronger since we have the skills to fabricate it. We are using the polyurea for coating the interior of the butcher shop.

  7. WackyInternetCommentGuy says:

    Mad max would be proud to drive that van.

  8. Anna davis says:

    How many pigs can you fit I. This new van? I’m trying to get seven pigs to the slaughter house and have a two bay horse trailer. I transported three pigs in last year and it was fine. Do you think it’s enough room for the seven?

    • Six pigs is the limit in the summer for what we normally do with a maximum of eight pigs.[FAO, NIH, Temple Grandin] The pigs like to be close together and that is safer for them during transport. However, the problem is heat stress which is why in the warm months we transport at night and tend to the lower number of pigs. We also give the pigs ice cubes in the warm months which helps them keep cool. They like to lay on the ice and eat it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.