November 16. 2017
Written by Gilbert VandenHeuvel
How To Conduct On-Farm Swine Feed Trials
A fact that we know all too well is: Feed is the single highest cost to grow a pig from weaning to market weights. Those who can make each feed dollar count will be more successful then those that don’t. Dwyer Manufacturing succeeds when you succeed. Feel free to contact us to design solutions to help you weigh your pigs and/or feed. If you need a simple pig scale or a central group weighing platform, we can get it done.
Remember that even a small improvement in feed conversion or average daily gain will quickly pay for the time and equipment needed to conduct an accurate feed trial.
qualify that university or feed company product claims work on your farm with your pigs.
evaluate specific genetics
test different equipment on your farm
test different feed components or ration design
generate a cost of production for your farm (this isn’t necessarily a feed trial, but it should have the same methodology)
No information is better then the wrong information.
Attention to detail is vital when conducting a feed trial. If it’s done carelessly, there is a high probability that the information generated will be misleading. Decisions made from the wrong information will probably be wrong thus costing you more money then if you didn’t change anything at all.
The key to conducting a meaningful trial is to:
minimize differences in pig performance that could be caused by factors other than the feed
provide a sound basis for ensuring that the results are reputable and valid for use
compare only two differences at once.
The most practical feed trials are those conducted on grower and finisher pigs. Trials done in the sow barn are difficult to keep statistically accurate since larger numbers of sows need to be in the trial and all these sows need to be similar in genetics, parity and housing conditions.
Weigh pigs and Feed. A reliable method of weighing pigs in and out and weighing feed is a must. The pig scale can be a single animal scale or a group scale, both will work fine. It’s been my experience that an electronic group scale in a central location works the best. Once the pigs use it once, they will move easily towards it and they seem to enjoy the activity. Feed weighing can be more difficult. Computerized liquid or dry delivery system is the best way but a feed volume counter can be installed above test pens or feed can be delivered in bags or weighed feed carts. Let me repeat, if the pigs and feed are not weighed accurately then there is little sense in spending the time and effort of the trial. Find a system that works in your facility and get the trial going. If an animal needs to be pulled from the trial due to illness or dies, weigh it so the data can be adjusted and remain statistically correct. At the end of the trial, remember to subtract any feed left in the feeders from the total feed usage number.
Understand and Manage Variability or Chance Variation. No matter how well you sort the two test groups to be alike there will always be a difference in their growth performance that you can’t anticipate or control. This can range from genetics to illness to mechanical issues. Scientists will talk about coefficient of variation with this issue which get complicated quickly. For a barn trial, take care to limit variation among the test groups and repeat the trial 2 or 3 times to minimize the effect of variation on the results.
Have Adequate Replication. Having only one pen of pigs per feed type in a trial may cause misleading results. Replication is important to minimize mistakes and ensure correct conclusions. If the number of pens per feed type requirements cannot be met at one time, repeat the trial over time using successive groups of pigs. Be sure to have the same number of pens available for each feed type during each time period.
Select the Proper Pens. All the pens used in a trial must be the same size with the same environmental conditions, feeders and water supply system. Keep in mind when selecting the pens to be used that the location will not influence the trial results. Figure 2 demonstrates a reasonable pen selection.
Minimize Pig Weight, Ancestry and Gender Effects. Pigs perform differently because of their weight, ancestry and Gender. These effects must be equalized across all feed types in the trial. The number of barrows does not need to be the same as the number of gilts in a given pen; however, the ratio of barrows to gilts and total number of pigs must be the same in each pen. All pigs should be randomly assigned to pens to ensure the integrity of the experiment. Starting weight of each group should be within 5% of each other to be considered similar. If this is not the case then pigs need to relocated to bring this difference within 2%. In addition, it’s important to minimize weight variation within pens as much as possible.
Select Suitable Test Animals. It is not unusual that a pig dies during a trial, so it’s important to screen the test animals before the trial to eliminate any pigs showing signs of sickness so not to alter the results. All the pigs in the trial should share similar background. For example, they should have eaten the same type of feed, received the same vaccines and housed in the same type of barn. If pigs with dissimilar backgrounds must be used, be sure to balance these pigs on each side of the trial.
Test Feeds Concurrently. Pigs fed the control and test feeds must begin the trial on the same day. If this doesn’t happen, then there is one more variable in the trial which could negatively impact the trial results.
Determine Trial Duration. The feed trial should be long enough to reasonably collect enough data but not so long as to give other factors a chance to influence the results.
Tabulate Results and Draw Conclusions. Calculate pen averages for each of the variables in the trial, such as daily gain, feed intake, feed conversion and feed cost per kg gain. Table 3 shows results that most conclude that the test feed was better. This is not necessarily true. Let me explain why. Back in Point 2, Chance Variation was explained. With results that are this close there is a significant chance that unforeseen differences could have altered the results this amount. Results this close could have been skewed by a mixture of other factors other then feed; such as health, weighing inaccuracy and genetics. The best next step would be to repeat the trial and average the results for a more conclusive outcome.
On-farm trials involve a lot of time, effort and dedication but designed properly they help you make sound business decisions. As an added incentive, certain types of scientific research that you do to improve your business may qualify for the Canada Revenue Agency’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive (www.cra-arc.gc.ca/sred/) making on-farm trials well worth the investment.
Thanks to the University of Nebraska and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food as resources. To read complete paper from University of Nebraska CLICK HERE OMAF paper HERE
November 1, 2017
Modern agriculture has come to rely on augers of all types for many many jobs. We use them without even thinking about it. If you do a quick mental count on how many augers you have on your farm, and you’ll be surprised how quickly the number grows. Any idea when a metal auger were first used to move grain? Keep reading for the answer.
Here at Dwyer Manufacturing, we build custom stainless and mild steel auger systems as the job dictates.
If the product needs to go around a corner, we can supply and install a flex auger.
An ALL stainless bin unloader is build right here at Dwyer Manufacturing that is designed to keep moisture out and last a long time.
This unloader is priced right, just a little more then the galvanized version. Starts at $253 as shown in the picture
The stainless bin unloader is adaptable to 200 – 500 flex systems and 4″ & 6″ rigid augers. Rubber
seal and sealed flat washers are standard on all units to keep moisture out.
Call us with your needs and we’ll design a solution.
or CLICK HERE to visit our website for more information
History of the Auger
The first type of screw conveyor was the Archimedes’ screw, used since ancient times to pump irrigation water, circa 250 BC.
Some researchers have proposed that a “auger” was used to irrigate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. A cuneiform inscription of Assyrian King Sennacherib (704–681 BC) has been interpreted by Stephanie Dalley to describe casting water screws in bronze some 350 years earlier.
The modern grain auger of today’s farming communities was invented by Peter Pakosh. His grain mover employed a screw-type auger with a minimum of moving parts, a totally new application for this specific use. At Massey Harris (later Massey Ferguson, Brantford, Ontario), young Pakosh approached the design department in the 1940s with his auger idea, but was scolded and told that his idea was unimaginable and that once the auger aged and bent that the metal on metal would, according to a head Massey designer, “start fires all across Canada”. Pakosh, however, went on to design and build a first prototype auger in 1945, and 8 years later start selling tens of thousands under the ‘Versatile‘ name, making it the standard for modern grain augers.
Information sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw_conveyor,
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.