September 11, 2017
Written by Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Electronic Sow Feeding, part 3
Now that we understand the benefits of Electronic Sow Feeding in general and the specifics of the Big Dutchman Electronic Sow Feeder (ESF) it’s time to pull it all together and design a housing system / floor pattern to facilitate the ESF and treat your pregnant sows the best way possible.
The Call-Inn Pro and Call Matic Pro have been designed to fit into many building plans, including older, existing barns with difficult dimensions. The Big Dutchman ESF has a significant design advantage with the trough cover. In theory each sow would enter the ESF once or maybe twice a day. Realistically, an aggressive sow will enter the ESF many times each day if she is able to eat something each time. All ESF systems are designed to allow only a specific amount of feed per sow per day. If a sow is able to eat any left-over feed from the previous sow, she will continue to enter the ESF multiple times each day. Some systems require a longer distance between exit and entry point to limit this repeated feeding. Big Dutchman has solved this issue by covering the feeder so an aggressive sow can not get any left-over feed so she will not enter the ESF multiple times as there is no reward for doing so. This is important for barn layout because this offers greater flexibility in designing the sow housing system with no requirements to limit repeated sow entry. You will notice in the diagrams included here that the Big Dutchman ESF is simply placed along an inspection / sorting alley way.
Click here to see a video on Big Dutchman ESF in action. At the 2:15 and 9:00 mark you will notice a sow in the ESF waiting to get fed. The scanner first reads the sow’s tag and only if she has not eaten her daily allotment will the trough cover open. If she isn’t allowed any feed the cover will not open and the entry and exit doors will open. The next sow will nudge her to leave.
The following points are especially important:
sufficient space in front of the feeding station
separation of the lying and activity areas
installation of drinkers in the activity area (10-12 sows per drinker)
there needs to be areas for sows to “hide” from aggressive sows
With the two types of group sow housing, stable and dynamic groups, there are two different housing styles.
In this type of group sows are coming and going each week as sows leave to farrow and enter after breeding. This system makes best use of the space as it should be close to maximum population at all times. More aggressive activity is to be expected in this style so more attention needs to be taken to assure sows have more areas to escape from aggressive sows. Care should also be taken in designing the flooring in the activity area, around the feeder entrance. Most of the fighting will happen in this area and thus a higher chance of slipping and hurting feet.
1=small lying space, 3=activity area, 4=selection / aisle area
In a stable sow group the same sows stay together for the duration of gestation. While this type of housing system is quieter and more relaxed, thus increasing chance of higher numbers born alive, once the peaking order is established, the space isn’t used as efficiently. As sows are removed due to non-pregnancy or illness, the space usage is less then ideal. Some operations will compensate for this by over-stocking the area, but with more then 65 sows per ESF, it is possible that any timid sows will not get feed every day. Care must be taken to monitor feeding reports and install a coping tactic if this occurs.
2=large lying pens, 3=activity area, 5=inspection and driving aisle
As gilts enter the sow system, they will need to be trained to use the ESF before entering the larger group to ensure proper feed intake and no stress to the unborn litter. Since feed is involved, the gilts usually train quickly. Only a small percent will need to be culled due to refusal to enter ESF.
The layout above works for two groups of gilts, but this should be modified depending on the number of gilts entering the sow system to optimize usage of ESF. Each group is allowed access to the ESF seperatly and not allowed to come back so it’s easier to spot gilts that are timid towards the ESF.
To get more information or to design your housing layout, bring your barn measurements, sow numbers and your preferred sow group style, to us at Dwyer Manufacturing so we can assist you in realizing your goals for electronic feeding in your sow group housing system.
by: Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Big Dutchman Electronic Sow Feeder (part 2)
Our previous blog went over the history of feeding pigs all the way back to the start of domesticated pig farming.
Here we will go over the two types of Electronic Sow Feeders (ESF) available through Big Dutchman.
Our next blog will look at various group housing sow layouts / floor plans.
Call-In pro – the more economical option and the Call Matic pro – the professional option.
Both have the latest technology based on 30 years of ESF experience. Listening to and serving customers over those 30 years has made Big Dutchman one of the pioneers in the development of ESF systems.
The Call-Inn pro ESF station is ideally suited for the needs of stable, large groups of up to 65 sows. Feeding is possible with one type of dry feed and automatically adjusted to the sows’ eating speed. Thanks to an electro-pneumatically driven dispensing mechanism, the metering precision is very high. If the sow is entitled to receive feed, approx. 60 grams are dispensed into the trough. This process is repeated until the sow is no longer entitled to receive feed or until the sow leaves the station.
A pneumatic trough flap controls access to the feed trough so sows who have had their daily allotment, can not find left-over feed. This discourages them to repeatedly enter the ESF.
Each feeding station is equipped with a feed hopper supplied by the feed bin. A sensor in one of the hoppers supplying a group of stations registers when the feed level drops below a set minimum value. All feed hoppers are then immediately filled again.
The Call-Matic pro ESF station is ideally suited for use with large groups of up to 60 sows, both dynamic and stable. The sows can be fed either with two types of dry feed, automatically adjusted to the sows’ eating speed, or with liquid feed. Thanks to the modular design of the station, it is very easy to adapt it to any space requirement.
Call-Matic pro offers the option to select sows automatically. A sensor at the exit gate to the selection area registers the number of the selected pigs and prevents overstocking of the selection pen.
Liquid feeding with the ESF
The installation of the Call-Matic pro with liquid feed is particularly cost effective if other pigs are already supplied with liquid feed. When a Big Dutchman feeding system is used, the ESF system is able to communicate with the liquid feeding system control. This means the ESF system can request feed from the liquid feeding system which in turn prepares the requested feed ration and pumps it into the storage tank of the ESF system. The liquid feed circulates through a pipeline system installed above the ESF stations. If a sow that is entitled to receive feed is identified, the pneumatic low-maintenance three-way ball valve opens. Feed is dispensed into the trough over a time interval set by the farm manager. This process is repeated until the sow has received her pre-set feed allotment.
The exact amount of dispensed feed is determined by weighing the feed in the mix tank. If the stored feed mix drops below a certain minimum, the liquid feeding system receives a new request for feed. Moreover, the tank of the electronic sow feeding system returns feed which has not been consumed to the main system’s mixing tank. This ensures that the feed remains fresh and increases hygiene.
Through this method, the feeding system is constantly calibrated, thus achieving a very high metering precision during the entire feeding process.
With this liquid option, reduced feeding costs can be achieved with co-products or the use of high moisture corn as part of the sow’s ration.
Colour markers can be added to both ESF stations as an option. If the station indicates that the entering sow must be marked, the spray can is automatically activated.
An optional unit for heat detection makes identifying sows which are returning to service very simple. These can then also be marked by colour.
The station can also easily be opened in case of an emergency – thanks to the swing-type side walls.
The guiding post, fixed or pivoting, helps the sows to find the entrance of the feeding station. This makes it much easier to train gilts that are in the selection aisle to use the feeding station. The installed door can also be used by the farm manager to access the animal area for tasks such as station inspection.
The station computer has a clearly arranged display and shows important information such as the status of the sow, the daily ration, the remaining feed quantity or the number of sows which have already eaten. It operates independently from the central PC for a high functional reliability. Sows that require special attention are identified by the control system and automatically selected. The farm manager is the one to define when and why a sow needs special attention.
Another advantage is that the station computer does not have to be installed at the ESF station but can also be installed in the aisle. This makes for better accessibility (an animal-free area) so adjustments can easily be made.
In addition to the station computer it is possible to connect a separate PC which can, for example, be located in the farm office or the farm manager’s home. Both computers communicate in real time.
At first glance, group housing seems much less efficient in terms of space per sow then a standard stall system but with proper management, a group housing system can become a very efficient system.
sow condition / weight can be kept closer to ideal with the ESF feeding the proper amount every day of the week. The sows are fed precisely no matter who is staffing the barn.
with automated pregnancy testing integrated into the system, your open sow days can be reduced saving costly feed dollars and gets sows back to the breeding barn quickly.
the optional colour marking allows easy identification of specific sows for reasons such as reduced feed intake or negative pregnancy test.
When a sorting door is used, sows ready to enter the farrowing room can easily be sorted out of the group. ( as shown on right)
The sow manager can easily view any information, in summary or for individual sows, to improve productivity of the sow operation.
As the sow industry continues its journey towards group housing, automated feeding will always be in the mix.
Big Dutchman’s ESF is a proven tool with 30 years of experience.
Feel free to call us for more information.
By Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Electronic Sow Feeding Station and Group Housing as a replacement of Sow Stalls
Big Dutchman Electronic Sow Feeding Systems
A little background information:
History tells us the the pigs was domesticated in Cyprus more the 11,400 years ago. They where first hunted but over time it was noticed that if food was presented to them, the pigs would come into pens at the edge of medieval villages. From there, pigs where brought inside to avoid parasites and increase production. Productivity (thus lowering per unit costs) has been the driver for barn and equipment design and technology ever since. Sow Stalls/Crates where part of this advancement in technology . In North America the farrowing and gestation stall where developed and put into large scale production in the 60’s but crates where used in various forms for many years before this in Europe.
Sow stalls have worked well to design a low cost building, allow for individual sow feeding, allow for worker/sow interactions such as AI and produced a sow with less injuries. Disadvantages have been the lack of ability to observe mobility and lameness, stereotyped behaviors observed, lack of sow’s natural social interactions and most recently negative consumer view on sow crates.
From: Pig Progress. To see article CLICK HERE
From the initiative of consumers and food retails groups housing systems where developed first in the EU.
history of sow group housing:
Unlike stalled systems that are reasonably standardized and well-understood in the industry, there is no “standard” template for group housing systems. Lots of factors, such as pen configuration, flooring type, feeding system, nutrition program, grouping strategy, timing of grouping, pig flow, husbandry skills, genetics and others come together to influence the success of a group housing system.
Good overall articles on group housing:
There are many factors to group housing, we can’t cover them all in one blog. Today we’ll focus on feeding with a Electronic Feeding System (ESF)
Why use Electronic Sow Feeding Systems in a group housing system:
Sows in top condition, more piglets
Less feed wastage
It’s simple to apply feed strategies
Notification when animals don’t eat
Substantial noise reduction, calm and relaxed sows
Automatic heat detection, marking and separation of sows based on heat
Pig breeders that apply group housing for pregnant sows should pay attention to reducing competition around the feeding area, which may reduce aggression among the sows and minimize differences between high social and low social ranking sows.
Copyright © 2007. . Copyright 2007 Journal of Animal Science
Big Dutchman has two innovative electronic sow feeding (ESF) systems on offer: Call-Innpro and CallMaticpro. Each of these feeding systems is a perfect choice for pregnant sows kept in groups. They ideally combine the advantages of animal-friendly housing and a feeding method specially adapted to the requirements of each individual sow. For the sows, group management means more freedom to move, better health and robustness. Individual, computer-controlled feeding allows the feed supply to be matched precisely to the condition of the sow. For the farm manager, this means healthy sows, performance-related feeding and best use of the house surface area. The feeding station can also be used to select sows automatically.
Each sow is marked with a transponder ear tag. When a sow enters the feeding station, which is always open when no sow is inside the station, she passes a light barrier. As soon as the sow has entered the feeding station, the entrance gate closes. The sow is identified by the computer by means of an antenna located above the trough flap. If the sow is entitled to receive feed, the trough opens and feed is measured out in small portions. When the sow has finished eating, the trough flap closes. If the sow is not entitled to receive feed, the trough flap remains closed. The entrance gate re-opens after a set time delay if a sow does not leave the station by herself. The next sow then enters the station and automatically drives out the last sow. If a sow leaves the station even though she is still entitled to receive feed, the feeding process stops and the sow can eat her remaining share at a later point in time.
Accurate Sow Identification
Data collection and sow identification are carried out by a very reliable and small ear tag transponder, which is inserted into the sow‘s ear by means of special pliers. This passive transmitter operates battery-free. The sow is identified by means of an antenna in the trough area. The received data is transmitted to the control computer. An additional antenna is installed at the boar pen if a separate unit for heat detection is used. This antenna collects further information regarding the sow‘s state. All established ear tag types can be read, irrespective of the manufacturer.
Management of large groups (up to 60 sows/station), animal friendly and economic housing system
Individual feeding of all sows based on the current requirements of each sow for a better overall condition and healthy animals
Trough flap remains closed if the sow is not entitled to receive feed
Manual operation directly at the station is possible
Pneumatic opening of the gates; the entrance gate is always open when the station is unoccupied, which makes training gilts much easier
Solid side partitions for undisturbed feed intake
use of sound-absorbing materials to ensure a low noise level in and around the station
Big Dutchman has two different models: Call-Inn pro and the Call-Matic pro.
Our next blogs will cover the details of each of these and common layouts for group housing and feed stations including training area and sow selection.
For the complete Big Dutchman PDF file of the two feeding stations CLICK HERE
May 5, 2017
By Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Cleanliness is the First Law of Health
The goal here is to keep the animals in your care productive and healthy to help your bottom line.
Exert from U of Guelph paper written by Tokach, Goodband, DeRouchey, Dritz and Nelssen. To read whole paper CLICK HERE. This section is on page 42.
The management style of All-In, All-Out greatly improves pig performance by decreasing horizontal transfer of disease from one group of pigs to the next. The main tool to stop the transfer of disease is cleaning with the primary of lowering the dose of infectious pathogens that can be transmitted from one group of pigs to the next. Enviromental contamination is an important contributor to bacterial and viral infections. For Example, Davies (1999) found that 27% of samples obtained from a fully slatted finishing floor just prior to placement of pigs were found to be positive for salmonella. Cargill and Banhaze (1998) found that cleaning barns between groups of pigs was the most important component of all-in, all-our production.
It has been well documented that animal performance is increased in ‘clean vs dirty’ environments. Pigs reared in a dirty environment had a 10% reduction in average daily gain and 18% reduction n feed intake. as compared with pigs reared in a clean environment.
Removale of visible organic matters removes 90% of the bacteria from the environment. Another 6 – 7% of the bacteria can be removed by disinfectants and fumigation an additional 1-2%. Drying is also an important part of the process. For example, PRRS can survive in water for up to 11 days but when dried, it dies quickly. (Pirtle and Beran, 1996)
The table below shows the influence of cleaning properly between batches of pigs and also a continuous flow facility. This study does not show Feed Conversion. F:C is much better with healthy pigs since the pig uses significant amount of energy fighting infections.
All-in, All-out All-in, All-out
Cleaned Not Cleaned Continuous Flow
Average Daily Gain, grams 658 619 610
Airborne Dust, mg/m3 1.80 2.31 2.51
Respirable Particles, mg/m3 0.201 0.265 0.29
Viable Bacteria, CFU x 103/m3 132 177 201
Gram positive Bacteria, CFU x 103/m3 82 109 122
Note: CFU= Colony Forming Units
Targets of a clean room:
To reduce the disease challenge to the herd
To improve animal health, welfare and pork safety
To increase the growth and efficiency of the herd
Cleaning tips we all need to hear again
Besides having a good power washer, there are several other steps to facilitate this washing process. (To read whole article CLICK HERE)
Soaking — Soaking surfaces before washing will cut down on the amount of time needed to do a more complete job. Soaking can be achieved by placing a sprinkler system in the rooms to be washed. When soaking a trailer, you may want to just wet the entire trailer first with a moderate amount of water, then start thorough washing at one end while other surfaces have more time to soak.
Detergents — Another excellent way to maximize cleaning and minimize time spent on the chore is to use special detergents to help break down manure and other organic matter. This is the equivalent of using soap to wash your hands. You can wash your hands with plain water, but it is much quicker to use soap.
Detergents are products used to reduce surface tension and suspend particles to facilitate cleaning. They can be acidic (good for protein removal) or alkaline (good for fats). Some commercial products contain both types.
Many operations forget the value of detergents, mainly because of the added expense. In reality, most products are worth the investment not only because they cut down on labor, but also because they maximize the cleaning process and can break down bacterial biofilms (slime), which can harbor bacteria.
Hot water — Hot water can also speed up the washing process. The one disadvantage of hot water is that it can produce steam and hamper visibility, particularly in winter. The goal is to have the water hot enough to facilitate cleaning without putting employees at risk. You will not be able to have the water hot enough to kill bacteria or viruses, as these high temperatures would cause skin burns. Studies have shown that the money used to heat the water will be saved in reduced labor.
Drying time. One of the challenges with most cleaning and disinfection programs is allowing ample time for extended drying. The purpose of this downtime/drying time is so that all moisture can evaporate from the building and all its surfaces.
Water is critical for the survival of all living organisms, including viruses and bacteria. Research in the poultry industry has shown that a 48-hour downtime can dramatically reduce the clostridial environmental contamination compared to 24 hours.
Ideally, downtime in the farrowing room would be 48 to 72 hours after cleaning and disinfection. Often, that’s impossible due to pig flow and limited space. To maximize drying time, consider these options:
Allow farrowing rooms to dry overnight before moving sows into the room. Turn on the room heaters to maximize drying.
If overnight is not possible, then try to use scrapers to remove all puddles of water as a means to speed up the drying process before moving sows into the room.
Two or three times a year, plan enough time for the rooms to completely dry in order to break disease cycles before moving animals in. This is especially helpful when dealing with significant health problems in the farrowing house.
Remember, this is not an all-or-none effect. Small intervention steps add up to a more productive system.
Drying is especially critical for livestock trailers, which have been implicated as a major risk for disease transmission. This is usually not the fault of the driver, but rather due to the high-risk areas these vehicles travel to and from.
At Dwyer Manufacturing we can provide you with an easy to clean plastic slat for your weaner and farrowing barn from MIK International.
More information can be found on our website HERE.
MIK has a large selection of flooring that works for conventional production or organic systems.
Options for goat and sheep production are also available.
To see the whole lineup of plastic slats and support equipment on the MIK site click HERE