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
For some fun power washer videos click below
April 17, 2017
by Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Particle Size and Distribution of Particle Size Are Important.
With margins tight for hog producers, finding areas to save feed dollars is always a good thing.
In a previous Blog, feed particle size was discussed at length.
The main points where:
put feed particle size testing into your regular maintenance schedule every 1000 tonnes of feed processed.
The goal is to have your corn ground between 700 and 800 microns.
1.5% change in feed efficiency comes with every 100 micron change in particle size.
As your corn moisture changes, the screen size needs to be changed too.
That can certainly add up to lots of feed dollars saved for those who put in the effort in getting the right grinder set up properly and keeping it maintained.
Here is a link to a concise study done by Iowa State University on Particle Size on Growers and Sows. CLICK HERE
Distribution of Particle Size
Average particle size isn’t the only thing you need to look at while doing this test. Distribution of particle size in important too.
The best grind has most of the product in the 500 – 800 micron range (25 – 45 sieve size shown here) . Too much large very small or very large particles isn’t helping the feeding program. The large pieces simply go through the pig’s digestive system, hurting your Feed Conversion and the very fine particles can lead to bleeding ulcers and reduced flowability in bins and feeders. An ideal grind in this picture would have a nice Bell shape to it. Lots of product in the ideal sieve range of 25 – 45 and as little as possible on either end.
Below is a chart showing good Standard Deviation at 3.37 and a nice bell curve in the graph.
Dwyer Manufacturer offers free particle size testing with printed results to all it’s mill customers and a small fee to anyone else. Simply put a couple handfuls in the mail or drop some off the next time your in the area.
April 3, 2017
By Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Dry Feeder Management
Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. ~Vince Lombardi
What does this Vince Lombardi quote have to do with dry feeders? No matter how hard we try, we can not entirely eliminate feed wastage from a feeder, but if we work at it, we can definitely minimize it.
The reason we have heard many presentations and seen so many articles on feed wastage at the feeder is because it’s such a big deal.
Feed costs through finishing barn = $80 per pig (source: Pork News & Views, Dec/16 Swine Budget)
Finishing barn will turn about 3 times per year. average 800 grams growth per day, 27 kg – 122 kg.
A triple double sided feeder will support 48 pigs Each year that feeder will support 144 pigs
Per year $11,520 worth of feed will go through each feeder. Per year 1% feed wastage equals $115 per feeder
Over 15 years $172,800 worth of feed will go through each feeder Over 15 years wastage of 1% equals $1,728 worth of feed per feeder
A typical 2000 head finishing barn would have 42 feeders, therefore 1% feed wastage equals $4,830 per year and $72,450 over 15 years.
The calculations above show there are significant dollars in the balance. So how do you get some of those feed dollars in your pocket?
The first step is picking a feeder that works well, not the one that costs the least. A feeder that costs a little less but doesn’t perform as well will end up costing you big $$ in the long run.
Dwyer Manufacturing offers a quality Wet/Dry Shelf feeder made by Thorp Equipment.
Long-term reliability due to heavy gauge stainless construction and simple shelf adjusting system.
The Thorp Feeder is 36″ tall, 6″ taller then other popular feeders giving it more capacity with no additional extensions to buy.
Hole spacing width of 14″ – 16″ available
Here are the basics of Feeder Management:
Daily inspection / adjustment of feeder is a must to maximize potential growth and minimize “out of feed” events so pigs continue to grow evenly without stress. Out-of-feed events can cause bowel syndrome, twisted gut, ulcers, and tail-biting all resulting in higher mortality, higher health expenses and slower ADG.
Things to look for each day are:
Mechanical issues. Mechanical problem found early are usually an easy fix
Adjustment. A poorly adjusted feeder can cause feed wastage or restrict feed available slowing down growth.
Drinkers can either plug or leak, both will reduce pig productivity
Manure in feeder is an indication of another problem. Has there been a change in the ventilation or maybe the feed has gone stale?
Points to consider:
Any change in particle size or feed ingredients will change how the feed flows through a feeder. Be ready to make adjustments to optimize the balance between growth and feed wastage.
If you have a scale available, it will pay dividends to run some on-farm trials with different feeders and/or varied adjustments.
Below is an example of a simple trial done with the goal of comparing the relationship of ADG and F/G at different feeder settings. The feeders where adjusted to 3 different settings over the whole growth period in a finishing barn.
The results are interesting but to know your facility’s results, you need to do this sort of thing for yourself. A little time spent now can generate information that will improve production and put dollars in your pockets.
Feeder test information Source : http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/2747/feeding-and-feeder-management-influences-on-feed-efficiency/