October 5, 2016
By Gilbert VandenHeuvel
Like every other business, pig farmers need to measure production elements through out their operation.
This can include calculating your cost of feed per kg of growth, or staff time to different production markers, or a physical measurement of feed used per kg of growth or per pig born.
Estimates of production costs are used for different purposes. One application is in decision-making at the farm level. Information about the profitability of the individual products can be important in the planning of future production tactics and/or feed inputs. It has always been my believe that if you can’t measure the difference a new product or technique will make, there is no point in implementing the change that will, not doubt, cost you dollars. Another reason to produce farm data is comparisons between firms (benchmarking). Benchmarking can lead to greater efficiency in the production process of individual farms when the participating businesses discuss reasons why production efficiencies are different.
This is a big topic, so the purpose of this blog is to overview the subject and more specific information will come out later.
As you are reading this blog remember that changing your feed costs per pig even a little can change feeds costs by large amounts over the life of the feeding equipment being used.
A typical grower/finisher uses about $85 of feed to get to market. In a typical 1000 head finisher barn, if you could reduce feed costs by a conservative $1 per pig due to information you received from weighing pigs regularly, your $4000 investment in the scale would only take 4 batches or 1 year to pay for itself.
In a grower system, feed is your biggest cost so feed conversion and feed cost per kg gain are the numbers everyone should know. It’s vital to know these numbers to optimize many areas such as feed quality, health issues, air and housing quality and animal husbandry. As mentioned, to know these numbers is great to compare to other producers, not just for bragging rights at Tim Hortons, but as a negotiating chip with your loop or bank manager.
Here at Dwyer Manufacturing we’d like to help you measure your feed output and your pig weight. When the right system is put into place, generating useful information to make better business decisions doesn’t have to be hard work or cost a fortune.
Measuring Feed Usage
Please note that when we measure feed output we are actually measuring feed disappearance not the actual amount of feed consumed. Managing your delivery and holding system can greatly reduce the amount of feed wasted thus changing your bottom line instantly.
To accurately know your numbers you need to be able to measure feed usage per group of weighed animals. Here are a few options to get that done:
Bin Scale. This method works good to calculated whole barn numbers. When the difference between in and out weight (including moralities) is divided into total feed you get a accurate feed conversion. This will help you plan your next batch but doesn’t help you identify ongoing issues like health, ventilation or feed quality on the fly and thus making improvements quickly. If the barn is set up with multiple bins feeding different areas of the barn, you will have the ability to do feed comparisons which can be very helpful.
Feed weight Counter. With this simple device hung over a feeder you can measure the amount of feed this pen uses. The stainless construction mean they will last for years as you fine tune your system. To use this unit, you weigh the amount of feed needed to “tip” the hopper over. The counter keeps track of the number of hopper cycles and simple math will give you the weight of the feed used. Re-weighing the feed is key to increasing the accuracy of this system.
Automated Dry Feeding System. There are a number of different ways to use a Daltec or Big Dutchman system to not only deliver your dry feed to your grower barn or sows but also measure feed going to individual animals or pens. Talk to Mike or Joe to set up the best dry feeding system to start saving you money.
Click HERE to go to our website to learn more about Daltec Automatic Dry Feeding.
Liquid Feeding Systems. The Big Dutchman feeding system is a powerful tool that will give you more information then you can use. Either individual components or complete feed amounts are calculated to give you reports for you individual test pens or as a whole room or barn.
I wouldn’t disagree that either of these computerized feeding systems are too complex and expensive to solely calculate feed conversions but both have many other advantages that make these systems a useful tool in a modern pig barn looking to optimize their investments and reduce costs.
A platform scale in a common area or hallway is a good way to quickly weigh a pen of pigs. After the first time they are directed to the platform scale, they usually gladly go for a run down the hallway. Depending on the size of your group, we can make the scale to suit with what ever type of flooring you like. Concrete slats which the pigs are used to, MIK plastic slats, or even checker plate in aluminum, stainless or mild steel are all good materials to make the deck of the scale.
Give Dwyer MFG a call with your needs and we can sort it out for you.
Automatic Weighing. If you’d rather weigh pigs automatically, our Sierens Auto Sort scale could do that. When set up properly, the scale can keep weighing pigs as they grow to give you up-to-date weights of the pigs in the group.
Portable Scale. Keeping it simple has it’s advantages. Using an individual pig scale that you bring to the pigs being weighed can work very well. These scales can be very simplistic with a spring scale with a large indicator dial or they can be more accurate with a electronic weighing system. Dwyer can custom make an electronic scale to fit your needs. If it’s moved a lot, then an aluminum scale can be good idea. Weighing pigs can be a hassle, but with a scale that fits through your doors and holds the size of pigs your working with, the job can be a lot easier.
The hog industry is a competitive business. Keeping costs down is as important now as it’s ever been.
Information is a very powerful tool. It’s vital to start putting in place a system that provides meaningful information to help you farm even better.