A comprehensive and creative set of new products was available for review at the 2004 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA.
Proving that the U.S. pork industry is indeed on the move, the scope of products ranged from a device to raise and lower sows in a farrowing crate to prevent pigs from being crushed, to automatic swine sorting systems, to information sources to help pork production run more smoothly.
A product review panel spent two days evaluating new products and services from all over the world on behalf of National Hog Farmer readers. To qualify, products must have been introduced to the U.S. pork industry in the past year and nominated by their respective companies prior to World Pork Expo. The New Product Review Panel selected eight products for recognition this year.
New this year, National Hog Farmer expanded the World Pork Expo New Product Tour to also give pork producers an opportunity to review and select their favorite new product or service from the slate of 24 nominated products. Producers were invited to cast a ballet online, vote in person at World Pork Expo, or vote by mail for the product they found to be most promising. Two additional products gained a majority of producer votes and those are designated as “producer's choice” products in the article that follows.
Panel members agreed that the strong set of new products nominated this year could benefit pork producers of all sizes.
“I got very excited about the variety of products that were available that actually met a need pork producers are facing,” Terry Feldmann said. “Many of these products could be quite useful throughout today's pork industry.”
Dick Nicolai said this year's products did a good job of targeting issues and challenges facing pork producers.
Mike Eisenmenger noted there were a number of products that would serve as good educational resources to aid producers in making management decisions.
Ken Stalder agreed. “I noticed there were a lot of educational items and products at World Pork Expo this year. That brings out the fact that our industry is seeking more information.”
Take a few minutes to benefit from the panel's time, experience and thoughtful discussion as they reviewed their choices of “most promising” products.
Products are listed in no particular order. If you would like more information about any of these products, circle the appropriate number on the reply card in this issue and return it to National Hog Farmer.
Producer's choice winner Estrous Synchronization Product Peaks Producer Interest
The new estrous synchronization product, MATRIX, from Intervet, Inc. was one of two “producer's choice” products selected by a combination of votes cast online and by producers attending World Pork Expo. MATRIX is used on sexually mature gilts that have had at least one estrous cycle, and effectively mimics progesterone.
The product is administered to gilts in their daily feed allowance for 14 days. Females will not come into heat while the product is being fed. After the MATRIX treatment is withdrawn, up to 85% of cyclic gilts will reach estrus within five to nine days.
The product is designed to help reduce variability in pig flow and aid producers in meeting breeding targets by improving farrowing rates. MATRIX reduces the normal biological variation in gilt cycles and helps improve production efficiency.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101)
Intensive Care Feeder Helps Pigs Get Started Right
The Intensive Care Feeder from Form A Feed, Inc. mixes dry Intensive Care Formula with water and provides newly weaned pigs with a healthy start. The liquid mixture, made of milk and cereal carbohydrates, flows into the feeder trough to provide pigs with small, frequent meals at predetermined intervals during the first three to four days after weaning.
“The combination of the Intensive Care Feeder and Intensive Care Formula allows us to administer liquid feed to newly weaned pigs,” explains Dennis McKilligan, Form A Feed, Inc. Once the pigs are eating regularly, the feeder can be moved out of the pen.
The controller can be set to run the feeder at predetermined times. An automatic flushing system helps keep manual cleaning to a minimum. The unit breaks down into three pieces — a mixer unit, stand and trough for easy moving between barns, and allows for set-up in approximately 15 minutes, according to McKilligan. Easy hookup is achieved via a saddle valve that connects to a PVC waterline. The unit simply requires a 110-volt electrical outlet.
The Intensive Care Formula is sold in dry, powder form in 25-lb. bags. According to McKilligan, newly weaned pigs would consume an average of 1 lb. of the Intensive Care Formula while on the feeder. The formula costs $.63/lb.
“It's amazing what getting food and water into the pigs will do for the health of the newly weaned pig,” says McKilligan. “The feeder pays for itself within about four months through savings in reduced mortality on most farms. The feeder helps reduce stress at weaning by providing a start for lightweight pigs.”
Eisenmenger pointed out that although the feeder helps pigs get off to a good start, labor is still involved to make sure the pigs needing the feeder most have access to it, and that the feeder should be moved out after three to four days.
The Intensive Care Feeder costs $1,077 for a large, wean-to-finish unit. Smaller, nursery units are also available.
(Circle Reply Card No. 102)
Producers' choice Sort All Revolution Computerized Large Pen Finishing System
Pork producers, taking advantage of an opportunity to vote online or in person at World Pork Expo, chose the Sort All System from Schick Enterprises as one of their favorites.
This total hog management system moves data collection and analysis away from scale heads and onto a more powerful office computer. The interface was specially designed for easy use and to make information readily available.
The system allows events to be scheduled at their optimal times. A completely automated sorting process means the movement of gates and sorting of hogs all occur automatically. One computer can control multiple scales and Smart Gate systems. Sort All system scales are designed to capture 1,000 weights per second. The Smart Gates have sensors to ensure that hogs are not caught nor trapped.
Producers have access to organized data including real time average daily gains, market projections using the Purdue University Model, graphs of weight distribution and growth rate tracking based on past and present data. The database also provides up-to-date population information such as minimum, maximum and average weights. Mortality rates are broken down into deaths and culled hogs.
“There is a lot of interest in automatic sorting technology,” said Paul Schick, president of Schick Enterprises. “This system makes it possible for an average pork producer to optimize management by ensuring hogs are sorted by size and weight at the correct stage of production, even if the producer gets sidetracked.”
The price of the Sort All Revolution Computerized Large Pen Finishing System is $9,300 to $9,400 and includes the computer, Revolution scale, all software licenses and four Smart Gates.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)
Fast II Alley Design Barn Retrofit System
The Fast II Alley Design Barn Retrofit System from Farmweld helps pork producers retrofit conventional barns to accommodate scales and automatic sorting system technology. Gating, feeders and watering devices are left in place, while the scale is located in the existing alleyway where pigs are given free access.
One scale is used per 1,000-head barn. Because of pigs' normal curiosity, they learn to walk through the scale as part of their daily routine, according to Farmweld President Frank Brummer.
Nicolai asked how long it takes pigs to learn to walk through the scale and automatic system and whether all the pigs use the scale. Brummer said most pigs become comfortable with the system almost immediately. Most pigs are trained within three days, he added.
Nicolai asked about the cost-effectiveness of the system.
“The FAST II system can be applied in a wide variety of systems to help reach a variety of goals,” Brummer explained. “Some producers are most interested in reducing sort loss. Other producers have identified the need to sell heavier pigs. FAST II also helps sort loads of pigs for multiple packers, and can help improve feeding accuracy. You have to look at your kill sheets and ask yourself if you sold those pigs at the right time and weight.”
Eisenmenger asked if pens could be closed off in the event of a disease outbreak. Brummer said one of the advantages of the FAST II Alley Design is that it allows producers to easily create temporary 25- or 50-head pens for treating certain animals or for starting wean-to-finish pigs.
Stalder said if automatic sorting technology makes a producer's job easier, it is likely to have positive advantages and be applied in existing barns more quickly.
“It is really nice to have a technology available in today's pork producing world that can help both the person who owns the pigs to gain the best economic advantage, and also help the person who is taking care of the pigs to do a better, more efficient job,” Eisenmenger stated.
Nicolai echoed this sentiment. “Today's producer may be both a grain farmer and a pork producer,” he said. “Systems that require less labor while still increasing productivity and efficiency could help pork producers keep pace with larger integrators.”
“I see definite advantages to automatic sorting technology that requires less labor on the part of pork producers,” observed Feldmann. “It offers reduced labor spent training the pigs to use the system correctly, in addition to installation time.”
Eisenmenger pointed out that the pork industry has had concerns in the past that sorting technology may reduce average daily gain. “If this system performs as promised, it can help producers by reducing time spent in the barn doing chores,” he stated.
Brummer said the Farmweld Fast II Alley Design Barn Retrofit System could be retrofitted in a 1,000-head barn for approximately $12/pig space.
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)
Sow Lift Keeps Pigs Safe
The Crystal Spring Sow Lift from Gro Master, Inc. helps prevent piglet crushing deaths by elevating the sow 10 in. above the creep area when she stands up. When the sow lies down, there are no piglets around her to crush.
The sow's weight triggers a pedal. When she stands up, the pedal is released, which activates the airlift system. When the sow lies back down on the pedal, the crate is slowly lowered to creep level.
Jonathan Kleinsasser, sow lift inventor, said he used a 10-in. diameter air bag from the truck industry to design the simple, air-powered lift system. “I wanted this system to have a 15- to 20-year lifespan, so I chose heavy-duty materials,” he explained.
A low-profile, scissor lift provides minimal pit interference. Kleinsasser said the sow lift is flexible and adaptable to nearly any pit size, flooring style or farrowing crate.
Stalder asked what would happen if manure were to get on the operating mechanism. Kleinsasser explained that the air valve mounting brackets and mounting bolts are made of stainless steel. “There are no moving parts at the back end where the manure and urine are; therefore, manure can cause very little damage,” he said.
Kleinsasser, responding to Feldmann, said the Sow Lift could be retrofitted with existing farrowing crates.
Gro Master, Inc. offers the sow lift at a suggested retail price of $640.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)
CD ROM Set Serves As Training, Management Tool
The Complete Guide to Modern Swine Management from SUS Multimedia is a three-CD ROM reference set made up of the most current information available from around the world. Three topic areas are featured: Reproductive Management of Pigs, Health and Management of Nursery Pigs and Health and Management of Grow-Finish Pigs.
Each of the guides can be used as a reference text or a practical diagnostic tool. Each CD contains a problem-solving section where producers can identify and diagnose problems they may be experiencing in their hog operations.
If a producer can identify the specific type of problem the operation is facing, the problem-solving section helps select the most likely causes and solutions.
“Producers can use target values built into the CD, or they can input their own production numbers,” according to Paul Hughes, SUS Multimedia.
Clear diagrams and data tables are presented, along with video demonstrations of some production situations.
“I could see this set of CDs being used as a training tool for new employees, a problem-solving tool or a benchmarking aid for managers,” noted Nicolai.
Responding to Stalder's question about updates, Hughes said SUS Multimedia expects to provide updates within two to three years. The second edition will be available at half-price to people who purchased the first edition.
Feldmann said he liked the graphics and the video demonstrations within the Complete Guide to Modern Swine Management.
Nicolai agreed. “I really appreciated the effort the creators of this product put forth to organize the graphics and create a user-friendly source of information,” he stated. “The same information can be accessed in a number of different ways.”
The Complete Guide to Modern Swine Management is available as a three-CD package for $600. CDs are available individually for $250 each. A two-CD package costs $400.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)
Rodent Control DVD Provides Education
The World Pork Expo new product panelists were in unanimous agreement regarding the importance of educating pork producers about rodent control. The panel felt the new Rodent Control DVD, available free from Motomco, Ltd., could serve as a valuable educational tool as well as a vehicle to open discussions about the dangers and damage rodent pests can cause.
“By the time you see rodents in your operation, there has already been damage done to buildings,” Stalder explained. “If producers can get a rodent control plan in place from the time the building is new, they can prevent costly damage. This topic needs attention.”
Feldmann felt the DVD would provide a good starting point to get producers to sit down and map out a rodent control plan.
“There is no question there is a need for education about rodent control. Producers need to understand both the consequences of not dealing with rodents, the specifics of bait station placement, how often to replace bait in bait stations, type of bait and bait intergradient,” Nicolai summarized.
(Circle Reply Card No. 107)
Kalibrator Metering System Increases Feeding Accuracy
The Kalibrator from Dean Technologies, LLC is a highly accurate feed additive metering system designed to be mounted on the outside of a feed bin. This allows producers to incorporate feed-grade medications, probiotics and growth enhancers on-site, rather than at the feedmill, to meet the needs of each group of pigs.
“We felt this product would be good for both pork producers and consumers because it helps producers use antibiotics more judiciously,” explained Dean Technologies' representative Gus Dean. “The Kalibrator makes the Paylean step-up program easier to implement and more economical. Paylean can be started at just the right production stage with no Paylean-treated feed left over at the end of the production cycle.”
Dean said the Kalibrator is easy to operate with no complicated calculations. Producers need only to determine their feed flow rate in order to set the machine accurately. Once set, the Kalibrator is ready to automatically deliver precise dosages of product to each feed line.
An electronic sensor signals the Kalibrator to run when the feed line runs and shut off when the feed line stops. If feed is not being pulled through the system at the correct rate, the sensor will turn the system off.
Nicolai asked if the sensors could detect partial feed bridging. Dean said that if flow rate drops, the sensors would detect the differences.
Eisenmenger asked about the inclusion rate settings. Dean explained that the Kalibrator is capable of delivering a wide range of feed additives at their approved inclusion rates, including tetracyclines at the 10 mg./lb. inclusion level. A quick reference chart of pre-calibrated settings for all of the commonly used feed additives is included with each Kalibrator system.
Stalder wondered if the Kalibrator would have problems with moisture or condensation. Dean explained the machines have been tested under high humidity and high-temperature conditions, as well as in outside temperatures down to 30∞ below zero with no interruption or product failure.
The Kalibrator weighs 48 lb. and comes preassembled. It operates on a 110-volt electrical line run from the barn to each machine. One person can install the machine in less than an hour, according to Dean.
Dean said the $1,952 purchase price includes one sensor and the Kalibrator control unit. Two additional sensors that provide an added level of safety in delivering feed additives are also available.
“This product makes sense because of the way that pigs are fed today when feed is mixed in large production runs at large feedmills,” Eisenmenger noted. “The Kalibrator makes some medicated rations feasible because of the ability to precisely control inclusion rates. It also allows greater flexibility to treat sick pigs and reduces the risk of contaminated feed. If the medication is not contained in the bulk tank, a producer would have reduced residue concerns.”
Stalder pointed out the advantage of not having to dispose of excess medicated feed between batches of pigs.
(Circle Reply Card No. 108)
Wet/Dry Tube Feeder Provides Fresh Water Without Nipples
The Ultimate Wet/Dry Tube Feeder from Thorp Equipment provides a constant level of fresh water to wean-to-finish pigs without using traditional nipple waterers.
All water trays are connected and gravity filled by a single, self-leveling vacuum valve. A baffle helps prevent plugging. Only one hookup is needed, thus reducing installation time and cost. The channel frame mounts to gating or bolts to the floor.
The feeder costs in the range of $275.
Feldmann asked about repairs. According to Roy Lato, president of Thorp Equipment, there is a one-year warranty on the valve.
Stalder said this was an innovative approach in a wet/dry tube feeder.
Eisenmenger noted one advantage to the feeder would be that pigs would have instant access to water at weaning. “We do spend a lot of time and effort helping little pigs find water,” he said.
Nicolai thought the feeder would require less maintenance than other types of waterers.
(Circle Reply Card No. 109)
Hydro Equalizer Manifold Aids Accurate Manure Application
The Hydro Equalizer Manifold from Hydro Engineering, Inc. was designed to provide an even manure application flow rate while reducing plugged outlets.
“Our goal was to come up with a cost-effective, nearly maintenance-free product,” explains Thomas Huffman, Hydro Engineering owner.
The Hydro Equalizer Manifold was developed to deliver equal amounts of manure to each injector on a drag hose injection toolbar or manure tank wagon injection toolbar. As the rotating equalizer turns, it feeds each outlet. Plugging is reduced because the Equalizer Manifold is designed to perform with fast, even pulsing flow to each injector regardless of gallons per minute (gpm) flow to the manifold. The Equalizer Manifold can accommodate from 200 to 2,000 gpm and only utilizes 5 to 7 lb./sq. in. (psi) of pressure.
The replaceable Equalizer shearing edge is made of heat-treated, tooled steel. The Hydro Equalizer Manifold can be put on existing manure tanks and toolbars and ranges in price from $1,800 to $2,000.
“I was particularly excited about this product,” Feldmann said. “It helps increase the value of manure as a fertilizer resource by making it easier to achieve uniform application rates.”
“Uniform manure application is a critical component of a good nutrient management plan, and a product that can help pork producers deal effectively with environmental concerns is useful to the pork industry,” Nicolai agreed.
Stalder felt the Hydro Equalizer Manifold was reasonably priced and could be adapted to a variety of existing manure application systems, while Eisenmenger particularly liked the features that prevented plugging.
(Circle Reply Card No. 110)
Automatic Sorting Systems Grab Panel's, Producers' Attention
Both the World Pork Expo New Product Review Panel and producers voting for their favorite product recognized the merit of new automatic sorting technology.
The panel chose to take a closer look at the Fast II Alley Design Barn Retrofit System displayed by Farmweld, while independent producer voting recognized the Sort All Revolution Computerized Large Pen Finishing System from Schick Enterprises.
Meet the Panel
The New Product Review Panel included:
Mike Eisenmenger — a veterinarian with the Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, MN. Eisenmenger has extensive pork industry experience consulting for farms of various sizes throughout the U.S.
Terry Feldmann — an agricultural engineer working for Maurer Stutz, Inc., Peoria, IL. Feldmann has served as a certified assessor for the National Pork Producers Council's On-Farm Odor/Environmental Assistance Program, in addition to consulting nationally with hog operations of all sizes regarding structure, design, management and environmental concerns.
Dick Nicolai — a 1,500-sow pork producer from Hector, MN, Nicolai was recognized as an Environmental Stewards award winner in 2003. He also has a PhD in biosystems and agricultural engineering, and serves as an assistant professor and extension specialist at South Dakota State University.
Ken Stalder — an assistant professor of animal science, Iowa State University. Stalder has an active research program investigating a variety of swine genetic and management-related topics. He strives to find ways to improve reproductive efficiency, increase profitability in the grow-finish phase and target pork quality through improved genetics and management strategies.