Feel like you missed the opportunity to meet friends, learn more about industry issues and look for new product innovations because World Pork Expo was cancelled?
We can't replace the sights, smells and sounds of the pork industry's biggest event, but we've had four experts review the new products that would have been displayed at Expo.
National Hog Farmer asked the registered exhibitors to nominate their new products for review. The panel then selected semi-finalists for review at our offices in Minneapolis.
Our panel includes Kaye Whitehead, a 600-sow, farrow-to-finish pork producer from Muncie, IN; Dean Koehler, swine nutritionist at Shakopee, MN; Kris Kohl, agricultural engineer for Iowa State University Extension Service at Storm Lake; and Arlin Karsten, DVM, director of swine education at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA.
Twenty-nine products were nominated. What follows is the panel's review of the 12 products they found most promising for the pork industry.
If you would like more information about any of these products, circle the appropriate number on the reply card after page 36 and return it to National Hog Farmer.
Ultrasound Machines Help Producers Manage Sow Herds
The panelists reviewed two lightweight real-time ultrasound machines, the Bantam from E.I. Medical and the Tringa 50S from PharVision.
The Bantam machine weighs 16 oz., features a belt mount and video glasses. The rechargeable battery runs up to 3½ hours and has a low-battery warning with 15 minutes of power remaining. The unit costs $7,500.
The Tringa 50S weighs 29 oz. and uses a viewing monitor strapped to the user's wrist. A 12-volt battery provides four hours of operating time. It costs $7,900.
The panelists agreed that sow herd management is changing to include the use of ultrasound machines.
“Herds with limited labor find it difficult to consistently do a good job of 21-day heat checking,” says Karsten. “They are leaning more on ultrasound to find open sows as soon as possible.”
The typical employee can find a pregnancy at 19 to 20 days with the Bantam, says Len Nighswonger, E.I. Medical. The unit has a “freeze” mode to isolate the image indicating if a sow is pregnant or not.
Producers can order the Bantam with video glasses only, an on-board monitor or both options. The scanner also has a video port to connect to any size external video monitor.
Karsten and Whitehead both noted that using a monitor instead of goggles helps in teaching situations.
“The goggles are kind of neat, but I'd like a screen because it's good for training — both the teacher and the student can look at the screen,” Karsten says.
Whitehead does the pregnancy checking on the family's 600-head sow farm. Pen gestation is used, so she needs a small unit and a monitor for safety.
“I like the fact that all of the equipment is right there. I prefer to see it on screen, especially if I'm showing someone else what I'm doing,” she says.
Steve DuMond, the president of PharVision, explains that workers with some experience can find a pregnancy at 19 to 20 days.
The Tringa 50S also has a “freeze” mode to isolate images. And, it features an infrared port to download information into a personal computer. The system also comes with an interactive CD to show clinical examples and to teach proper use of the machine, DuMond says.
E.I. Medical offers a video and an illustrated pregnancy guide called “Swine Prints” for training. The Bantam has on-board image capacity, and a Universal Serial Port (USB) port to download to a PC.
Koehler wonders if either machine could be used to scan for backfat and other carcass characteristics.
A separate, linear transducer for the Bantam would allow producers to measure backfat and loin depth. The transducer would cost from $2,800 to $3,000.
“The machine will run either transducer; many of our ‘Real McCoy’ users have included other transducers,” Nighswonger says.
The Tringa can scan backfat measurements, but the company does not have other probes available to measure other carcass traits, DuMond says.
“Both of these are very good tools to increase the productivity of a sow herd, but they must be used with good management,” Karsten says.
Whitehead stresses that a sow unit and its personnel must be ready for a transition to this type of ultrasound machine.
“At the point where an operation has the time and personnel to use these machines, then they can improve the operation,” she says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101 for Bantam; Circle Reply Card No. 102 for the Tringa 50S)
Feeder Flips for Easy Cleaning
Farmweld presented its Flip-to-Clean system for its Challenger nursery feeders.
The system, available on any size of Farmweld feeder, holds the feeder between two brackets in the fenceline. To clean the feeder, workers pivot it on the brackets for easier power washing.
The feeder is held in the cleaning position by short lengths of chain and metal O-rings, which hook onto posts in the fenceline.
When used with Farmweld feeders and gating, the option adds $20-$25 to the cost of each feeder, says Mike Bushue, Farmweld representative.
Bushue explains the process for flipping the feeder includes lifting slightly and pulling out on the feed trough, flipping the feeder over and then hooking up the O-rings to the posts.
“The concept of an easier-to-clean feeder is great. I'm intrigued,” Whitehead says.
Koehler and Whitehead ask if pigs would be able to move the feeder if it was empty and get into the adjoining pen, as this would prevent producers from allowing the feeder to run empty when closing out a barn.
The weight of the feeder holds it secure in the feeding position, Bushue explains. “The pivot is like a feeder bracket, and the whole weight of the feeder is sitting on the floor.”
Kohl and Karsten both stress that feeder adjustment handles are easily damaged in efforts to remove feeders from the fenceline for cleaning.
“It's disgusting when you flip regular feeders to clean them and the adjustment handles get caught in the slats and get ruined and are no longer usable,” Karsten says.
“It's the little things like that that go wrong with feeders and make them obsolete. The flip-to-clean option should prevent handle damage during cleaning,” Kohl says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)
Neogen Offers Detectable Needle
Ideal Instruments, part of Neogen Corp., has introduced the D3 detectable needle.
Joe Corbett, director of animal safety sales and marketing for Neogen, explains the three benefits of the new line of livestock-specific needles. First, it has a thicker cannula to prevent breaking during injections.
“It is really difficult to break this cannula. Our workers have had to take a hack saw to it to cut the needle for testing,” he says.
Corbett notes that the company has released 500,000 needles to the industry and has not received any reports of breakage to the needle cannula.
Second, the metal hub is stronger than needles made with a polypropylene hub.
Third, the needle is made of a blend of metals. The unique alloy makes any portion of the needle fragment detectable by metal scanners at the packing plant. The alloy is still classified as stainless steel, Corbett says.
Corbett estimates the cost to the producer at 42¢-45¢/needle.
Karsten asks if the stronger cannula would injure an unrestrained pig.
“One of the reasons needles were made to bend is to prevent trauma to the animal,” he says. “If the animal moves, there could be tissue damage.”
Kohl stresses that producers may not see lost needles as a huge issue from their perspective. The consumer, on the other hand, is greatly impacted by the potential for a lost needle in their pork.
“A needle in the meat — that's an experience that will sour them on pork forever,” he says.
Karsten agrees. “Anything we can do to increase producer awareness that this is not an acceptable practice is important,” he says. “That may be one of the strongest points, that this needle increases producer awareness. This is one thing we can't tolerate.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)
Soy Product Acts Against Hog Odors
Barrier, from Agriliance, is a soybean-based product used to mitigate hog odors.
Mark Schoenfeld, product manager for Barrier, explains that the product is poured directly over the hog manure in deep pits. It spreads to form a thin barrier that holds in hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, thereby reducing odor.
Research conducted by Iowa State University found up to 75% reduction of hydrogen sulfide and up to 40% reduction in ammonia levels with the product. Research at North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota found similar results.
Agriliance recommends adding Barrier to pits monthly. The retail cost of the product is $10.25/gal.
Schoenfeld estimates that treatment of a typical 1,000-head finisher would require 15 gal./month and 180 gal./year.
A typical 2,000-head finisher would require 25 gal./month and 300 gal./year.
Therefore, the cost runs about $0.60/head on average, Schoenfeld says. The panel expresses concern about the cost.
“Sixty to 75 cents is a significant expense when you are raising pigs, but if you have an odor problem and it helps you solve it, it would be a cheap fix compared to some alternatives,” says Karsten.
“Each operation will have to decide if there are enough advantages,” says Whitehead. “If I were to use it, I'd start with the barn that had the most potential for improvement.”
Whitehead notes that the use of a soybean product in pork production is good public relations for both crops.
“I like the idea that it is a natural product. That goes a long way in public perception,” she says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)
Chew Toy to Reduce Tailbiting
Ikadan System USA is introducing the “Bite-Rite,” a chew toy to deter pigs from aggressive behavior, such as tailbiting.
Company representative Greg Swain explains that the product, developed at the Danish parent company, is a durable 7-in.-diameter plastic cone, with four, 8¼-in., soft plastic sticks. The unit comes with a plastic-coated cable for suspension from the ceiling.
Costs for the Bite-Rite include $17.50 for the original unit and $2.50/stick for replacement sticks. The company recommends hanging one Bite-Rite per 20- to 25-head pen. Suggested placement is the middle of the pen.
Swain explains that the shape and elastic material of the sticks were recommended by Danish research indicating the benefits of a chewable material.
“One of the critical things is that the pig can feel pliability of the product,” he says. “If they can't sink their teeth into it, they get disinterested quickly.”
Research has found that pigs lose interest in dirty toys. “That's why a tire, PVC pipes or bowling balls aren't effective as an ‘environmental enrichment,’” Swain says.
Koehler cites research by Temple Grandin, Colorado State University animal behaviorist, which found hanging material like rubber hose or cloth strips were the best pig toys.
“There is some evidence that the soft plastic that can be bitten into may be of benefit,” he says. “Grandin found that pigs prefer materials they can bite into, such as cloth strips, but the strips have poor durability.”
Kohl notes that the product offers another deterrent for pigs that have started tailbiting.
“One of the most frustrating things is to have a group of tailbiters and then have to figure out what to do with them,” he says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)
Boots Feature Elastic Tops
The product panel reviewed Agri-Pro Enterprises' 3-mm., disposable, extra-large, elastic-top boots.
The boots have elastic in the top, instead of strings, to prevent them from slipping off. They are extra large to accommodate extra large men's work boots. The boots are packaged in 50-count (25 pair) bags at a suggested retail price of $12.45.
Karsten has used the boots in his work.
“They are heavy-weight; they stay up. I've worn my big steel-toe work boots with them,” he says. “These would work good for visitor-type situations.”
Whitehead stresses the need for cost-effective, disposable boots and biosecurity on farms.
“These boots make sense and are priced right. This is practical. It is something that we can use in most farming operations, particularly as we are increasing biosecurity,” Whitehead says.
(Circle Reply Card No. 107)
Robot Automates Barn Washing
Swine Robotics has begun manufacturing an automated barn washer named “The Washhand.”
The unit will cost between $5,000 and $6,000, says Swine Robotics engineer Kerry Nilson.
The unit is made of stainless steel and PVC plastic, is mounted on four, 6½-inch wheels and is powered by two 12-volt, deep-cycle batteries. The hose reel can hold 200 ft. of ⅜-in., 3,000 or 5,000 psi high-pressure hose.
The arm is made of 1-in. square aluminum. The nozzle can be set to turn 360°, based on how the operator sets the machine to wash. The nozzle head height can be adjusted from 32 to 72 in. off the floor. The unit uses the barn's existing high pressure water system.
Wash time can be set from 10 to 100 min./pass of the barn or room. Nilson estimates 10 to 20 minutes to set up the washer for cleaning.
Panelists express interest in the product but note that the concept may be futuristic.
“The day will come when this type of machine will be used in a pig barn,” Koehler says.
“The concept is incredible, but the application would be a challenge. I cannot think of a harsher environment to operate electronic equipment in than a hog barn where spray washing is taking place,” he says.
Kohl says the idea shows promise, but human involvement is still required.
“The machine can't look and see if the barn is clean; it just hits the spot once and moves on,” he says.
Koehler counters, “Power washing is the absolute last job that people want to do. If you could run a machine down every finishing barn and then have someone come in for an hour to do the touch up washing, you would sell it.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 108)
Valve Provides Constant Water Level
Century Marketing/Rotenca introduces the VH-R Water Valve for use in sow gestation and lactation crates.
The valve is made of plastic, stainless steel and rubber and is plumbed into the water line above each farrowing crate or at the end of a run of gestation crates. The valve has a membrane that closes when the down pipe is pressurized by the water level in the trough or bowl.
When a sow drinks, the water level drops, so the membrane opens and allows more water to flow down.
Tom Barragy, sales manager for Century Marketing/Rotenca, explains the cost of $27.50 could be applied to a single farrowing crate or a run of gestation crates.
The company suggests plumbing a U-shape into the water line, so the valve is closer to eye level, Barragy says. A lever on the valve allows the water to be turned off and on.
The valve can operate with water pressure from 7.76 to 50.79 psi and a water flow from 0.06 to 2.77 gal./min.
The panelists stress the importance of keeping sows well watered and therefore well-fed.
“Sows would consume a lot more water, and thereby more feed, if they had a flat surface of water to drink off of,” Koehler says. “That would enhance feed intake immensely.”
Karsten points out that his students spend a lot of time turning the water on and off in the gestation barns' troughs.
“It would be best to always have an inch of water in that trough,” he says.
Barragy concurs, “We see a big need, especially in the farrowing units, to keep water in front of the sow.”
The panel asks if feed would clog the unit if the valve was plumbed directly into the feed/water trough.
Barragy notes the waterer doesn't clog because of the water's down force.
Karsten sees one challenge for producers to design around. If they plumb the valve into the feed trough of a farrowing crate, dumping old, stale feed before it molds would be difficult if the valve is in the way.
Barragy estimates the life expectancy at 10 to 15 years, depending on water quality.
(Circle Reply Card No. 109)
Raytec Automates Pig Sorting
The panelists review the Raytec Manufacturing WayPig Auto Sort, a scale system that automatically sorts hogs.
Al Kunkle, sales manager for Raytec, explains that the scale is set up while pigs are growing in a large finishing pen.
“We recommend that producers set it up so the pigs walk through it on a regular basis,” he explains. “On the day the producer is going to load hogs, he can change the gating to accommodate loading and weighing.”
The module on top of the scale is set to sort at any weight. The hogs at or above the weight are sorted to one side to be marketed. The lighter hogs are sorted back into the barn.
When hogs enter the scale the back gate closes immediately so only one pig can be on the scale at a time. After the pig is weighed, the front gate pivots left or right to sort the hog into the appropriate group.
The unit is made of stainless steel and is powder coated for durability. The weighing module is encased in hard plastic and is waterproof. Compressed air powers the scale gates. The scale is powered by electricity, with a battery back-up and costs $4,800.
Kohl questions if producers can eliminate sort loss completely.
“Producers can sort better to reduce the sort loss, but they can't get it down to zero,” he says. “How much you should pay to get rid of sort loss depends on the producer's situation.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 110)
Insemination Catheter Streamlines AI
Continental Plastic Corp. offers the Patriot Catheter for review by the panelists.
The catheter allows the breeding technician to deposit semen directly into the sow's uterus, thus reducing the time required to inseminate and possibly lowering the amount of semen needed/insemination.
Continental Plastic's Rob Christine explains the steps to using the catheter. The first step is heat checking with a boar. The boar is taken away and insemination is done without boar exposure. Christine stresses that the sow should not be in the standing reflex. Allowing 15 minutes between boar exposure and insemination allows the sow to relax from the standing reflex.
“If she is in the standing response and clamping down on the catheter, it is very hard to transverse the cervix with the inner shaft,” he explains.
The outer catheter is inserted first and then the inner catheter is used to transverse the cervical canal and deposit the semen. The boar is then brought back to stimulate the sow and facilitate semen transport to the site of fertilization.
The cost/catheter is $0.95. “It will get much more economical as volume increases,” Christine says.
Christine notes that a 7,000-sow farm has reduced to a 45-ml., two billion sperm dose of semen, down from a 4 billion dose. The farm has seen a 3% increase in farrowing rate and 0.4 more pigs born live/litter.
However, he notes, the company does not recommend any specific semen dose level.
Whitehead notes that breeding personnel would need to change their mode of thinking. “You don't want the sow to show signs of standing heat,” she says. “It's going to be difficult to switch to that; it's not what we are used to with AI.”
Christine estimates that breeding technicians can learn the procedure after breeding 10 or 15 sows.
“We suggest people start out on cull sows and do two or three a week until they get comfortable, then slowly start in on the production sows,” he says.
Karsten points out that using a uterine or transcervical catheter has no economic advantage without lowering the amount of semen used to breed sows. “This is a really controversial subject right now,” he says. “The product works well, but I'm not sure we have the other technology to go with it. My main concern is identifying top-performing boars to use in low-dose AI situations.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 111)
Trojan Introduces Plastic Waterswing
Trojan Livestock Equipment Co. is now offering the Blue Trojan Waterswing.
Pat Beck, Beck Sales Co., is the president and CEO of Trojan Livestock Equipment. He explains that the blue waterswing is made from polypropylene plastic injected into molds. The same material and process are used to make ice hockey sticks.
The price of the unit is approximately $19. Adding two Trojan nipple waterers would cost approximately $3.50 for each for a total cost of $26.
The waterswing has a stainless steel grommet for the chain hanger, wrench flats for removing or changing nipples and the patented “play guard” to reduce water waste. The nipple threads are molded into the plastic. The waterer has a 30° angle for a natural drinking approach, Beck says.
Kohl stresses that the key to waterswings is proper adjustment to accommodate pigs as they grow.
“If a producer has swinging nipples in a facility and needs to replace them, this would be a good product,” says Karsten.
The rigid plastic would likely withstand the abuse from market hogs, Koehler says. “If the plastic stands up to a 120-mile per hour slap-shot, it should stand up to pigs.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 112)