New products introduced to the pork industry in the last year and displayed at the 2005 World Pork Expo offered a good blend of new technology and sound pork production and management principles.
This year's National Hog Farmer New Product Review Panel was very pleased with the attention the industry is giving environmental issues, as well as innovations aimed at helping make the job of producing pigs a safer, less stressful task.
“On an initial walk-through of the trade show, you might not have immediately noticed earth-shaking changes in the new products,” noted Dick Nicolai, a South Dakota State University agricultural engineer and 1,500-sow, farrow-to-wean pork producer from Hector, MN. “But when you stopped to visit the booths, it was evident that there had been some subtle, but good changes that fine-tuned existing ideas to make things better.”
Colin Johnson, Iowa State University Extension program specialist, added, “New technology has been combined with older, proven practices that can help producers work more efficiently and make hog operations more worker-friendly.”
Monty Moss, a 1,200-sow, farrow-to-finish and farrow-to-wean producer and veterinarian from Burnettsville, IN, was pleased at the number of new products that could benefit both large and smaller producers.
“The producers who adapt to new technology, while maintaining the keep-it-simple principle manage to stay profitable,” Moss said. “There were some products introduced here, like the value-added corn product, for example, that could offer independent producers some real opportunities and competitive advantages.”
Locke Karriker, a veterinarian and assistant professor in the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said he was impressed with the number of new products that addressed both biosecurity concerns and environmental issues.
Environment and Stockmanship Prioritized
Moss sees a pork industry trend toward more interest in the environment as part of the production process. “We, as producers, need to be willing to spend more money on the environment and consider it to be one of the important costs of doing business,” he said.
Nicolai agreed, adding, “I was encouraged that so many of the products we looked at addressed environmental concerns. It seems, as an industry, our disposables are becoming more and more environmentally friendly.”
Summing up all they had seen and learned, both Karriker and Johnson wanted National Hog Farmer readers to remember that even with the new technologies, the most important detail in a successful operation is how the pigs are treated. “Stockmanship skills are still critical in using the new technologies we are seeing today,” Karriker said.
“We need to be careful that we don't over-automate and forget to pay direct attention to the animals,” Johnson advised.
Following are some thoughts about the products the panel found “most promising.” Products are not ranked in any particular order.
If you would like more information about any of these products, a circle reply card number appears at the end of the respective product listings. Simply circle that number on the reply card, inserted between pages 36-37, in this issue and return it to National Hog Farmer.
Hog Slat, Inc.
The Hercules Arm is a self-propelled carcass cart that helps remove dead animals from crates or pens by using an electric winch capable of hoisting 2,500 lb. The product has an articulated frame, tiltable, telescopic arm and 180-degree pivotal mast. A 24-volt motor powers the unit. Two, 12-volt, rechargeable gel batteries are included with a built-in battery charger. Batteries can operate for around 10 hours before being recharged overnight, explained Hog Slat's Perry Hartmann.
Two models are available — Hercules Arm and Hercules Arm Junior.
The Hercules Arm weighs 794 lb. and sells for $4,200. The Hercules Arm Junior does not have the drive feature. It is designed to be pulled, and sells for $2,800. Both units are 20-in. wide and can turn 24-in. alley corners.
Forward and backward thumb-controlled buttons help operate the Hercules Arm cart. A slow-speed mode helps work around obstacles and winch the carcass out of the pen or crate. The fast-speed mode can be used while towing. A ratchet crank allows the operator to tilt the boom forward or backward. A safety bar helps stabilize the cart while a carcass is being pulled with the winch.
The panel agreed that this was a good product that would help keep producers and their employees safe. It could also reduce worker's compensation claims resulting from the difficult job of getting dead sows out of crates or large finishing animals out of pens.
“This product could reduce stress load and workload and make pork producers' jobs easier,” noted Johnson.
Nicolai pointed out that the Hercules Arm could be used to lift other heavy objects in the barn as well.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101)
0.5 ml. Ultimate BMV
A dial mechanism changes the dosage and helps the 0.5 ml. Ultimate Bottle-Mounted Vaccinator (BMV) achieve an accuracy range within 2% of the desired dosage. The bottle-mount design helps eliminate the need for tubing.
A bottle protector includes a quick-fitting bottle attachment system that locks 100 ml. bottles in place and allows for changing the position of the bottle.
Karriker asked whether air bubbles are a problem if the bottle is not oriented right.
Garth Anderson, Agri-Pro Enterprises/Instrument Supplies, said air bubbles should not be a problem as long as the bottle is in an upright position and the vaccinator is primed. He showed the panel how the angle of the injector handle could be changed to fit the operator's hand size and comfort level. The handle is available in a soft or textured grip.
Moss asked if leakage problems occurred after numerous uses of the syringe. Anderson noted that an optional brass tip on the injector helps prevent leakage, as does the standard tip made of glass-reinforced nylon.
The barrel can also be removed for easy cleaning. Replacement barrels cost about $3.
When Nicolai asked about quality control during the manufacturing process, Anderson noted the product is made in a clean-room environment in New Zealand.
“I liked being able to change the angle of the grip to improve the ergonomics,” Johnson stated.
“This syringe incorporates advantages from several different directions,” Karriker summarized. “It looked like quite a bit of thought had been given to the ergonomics, and the dosage dial feature looked like it would help deliver more consistent dosing.”
The 0.5 ml. Ultimate BMV costs just under $20, depending on the tip and handle options.
(Circle Reply Card No. 102)
BASF Plant Science
NutriDense corn was developed by BASF Plant Science to contain a stacked set of genetic traits, such as increased essential amino acid concentrations, elevated oil content with 6% more energy and greater levels of key minerals. And, according to Janet Snow, BASF nutritionist, a variety of maturity options are available.
The panel noted that NutriDense corn would probably hold the greatest benefit for producers who could grow their own corn.
Karriker asked how swine production systems that purchase most of their grain could benefit most from the product.
Snow explained that BASF Plant Science helps coordinate grain contracting for interested producers. NutriDense corn can earn up to a 25¢/bu. premium when compared to yellow dent corn, she added.
Moss wondered if “yield drag” accompanies NutriDense corn. Snow said NutriDense averages within 95% of yellow dent yields. “The added value of NutriDense generally results in increased revenue per acre,” she said.
Nicolai asked if the corn's lysine level remains stable. Christopher Peter, BASF nutritionist, said lysine levels do remain stable across hybrids containing NutriDense. Snow added that NutriDense corn also has about 70% more available phosphorus for swine diets than yellow dent corn.
Responding to a question about the products availability, Peter noted the demand for the product has currently outstripped the supply.
BASF Plant Science licenses the NutriDense seed to companies throughout the U.S. “The average seed company has five to 20 NutriDense varieties to offer,” Peter explained.
Moss asked about formulating rations and identity preservation.
“We're beginning to take a more futuristic view regarding swine rations,” Peter responded. “We can now begin to formulate rations based, in part, on manure output. Regarding identity preservation, we work with people at each step of the production process to make sure to preserve the identity, as well as the quality of the product.”
Barney Bernstein, head of trait sales and marketing for ExSeed Genetics, a division of BASF Plant Science, added, “I'm really excited about the performance improvements in hybrids containing NutriDense traits over the last three to four years. NutriDense can increase the overall profitability on any farm, especially those with swine operations.”
Summing up their thoughts, the panel felt NutriDense corn offered potential benefits for the pork industry.
Moss liked the fact that producers get a lot of traits in one product, compared to nutrient-enhanced grains of the past, such as high-oil corn, that only offered select benefits. “Phosphorus is such a big issue for pork producers,” he noted. “The NutriDense corn can help reduce phosphorus excretion. NutriDense corn could also offer smaller producers some competitive advantages.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)
Twist II Clean Filter
The Twist II Clean Filter can be cleaned with a simple quarter-turn of a handle and five seconds of backflush to keep water systems from clogging.
“Any job that is a hassle doesn't seem to get done on a farm,” explained Dosmatic's Peter Acutt. “The current technology often requires an operator to shut down an entire water system before manually opening and closing valves, unscrewing the filter bowl, removing the screen or filter and then cleaning or replacing it.”
The Twist II Clean Filter uses existing water pressure to flush filtered material off the filter by reversing the water stream from the outside-in direction to an inside-out direction across the screen. Simultaneously, the filter screen is lifted, allowing all the filtered material, both in the bowl and attached to the screen, to be flushed away from a drain at the bottom of the bowl.
A clear filter bowl allows the operator to see if the filter element is clean. Arrows on the twist cap allow the operator to easily see which direction to turn the handle. The unit is designed to be mounted on the wall. “This design takes the hassle out of the process, so it will get done,” Acutt said.
Nicolai noted, “This product seems innovative. I think it would save time and labor.”
Acutt also noted the product is covered by a normal, one-year warranty against material or manufacturing defects.
Moss asked about durability of the unit when dealing with sand in the water system.
Acutt answered: “Yes, very much so, as this filter is designed to filter and remove any and all particles larger than a 104-micron size.”
The Dosmatic Twist II Clean Filter sells for $62 to $68, depending on the size of the screen. Screen sizes vary from 1-in. to ¾-in. sizes.
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Automated Production Systems
The Bio-Dri truck drying system from Automated Production Systems is designed to provide a quick, safe method to dry livestock trailers on the farm.
Tom Stuthman, Automated Production Systems, explained the Bio-Dri system was created for producers who need high throughput when washing and drying trailers in all types of weather. He cited recent studies that have shown thorough drying of hog trailers after washing greatly reduces the risk of introducing viruses to pigs during transport, including PRRS.
The Bio-Dri system consists of high-volume, high-velocity, modified grain bin fans, combined with LP or natural gas heaters. Operators program the desired surface temperature and duration of the drying cycle into the controller before starting the system.
Stuthman cited studies that showed holding trailer surface temperature at 160° F. for at least 10 minutes can effectively kill disease organisms.
Karriker wondered how fast the drying cycle could be completed, including the time it takes to make sure the infrared sensors are in place.
Stuthman explained that the amount of time necessary to complete the process depends upon the outside temperatures, but the entire drying cycle could be completed in as little as 40 minutes.
Johnson asked about the operating costs and whether a disinfectant could be used with the system.
Stuthman said disinfectant application could be incorporated in the system. “Depending upon energy costs, we estimate it costs between $8 to $10 per cycle when using natural gas,” he replied.
Moss asked if separate facilities would be needed for both washing and drying. Stuthman said the Bio-Dri system must be located in a building dedicated solely for that purpose. The floor of the building should have at least a 4% slope for drainage, he added.
When asked about cost, Stuthman said, “The Bio-Dri system and building together could cost up to $125,000, depending on options and the type and size of building. This should include concrete, electrical and plumbing cost.” If an existing building could be utilized, costs could be considerably less, he added. The pork producer provides the building.
An optional data logging system can provide a record of each drying cycle for process verification purposes. The touch screen control system features the ability to have up to 12 pre-set programs for flexibility and ease of operation. Password protection insures that unauthorized operators cannot make changes to the system's operation.
Moss thought the Bio-Dri system could help address a problem many producers face. “Market trucks are often still wet when they back right up to the barn,” Nicolai added. “This product helps address the challenges of transport vehicles and disease.”
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Land O' Lakes Feed
UltraCare Gel is a pre-starter product formulated in a high-moisture, gel form. It is designed to get nursery pigs started on feed quicker. UltraCare Gel can be fed to baby pigs in the farrowing crate 2-3 days before weaning, or in the nursery or wean-to-finish barn, or both.
The gel is formulated to taste and smell like sow's milk, which the baby pigs find desirable. “This process is known as ‘imprinting’ and is a vital component of the Multi-Plex Digestion technology on which UltraCare Gel is based,” explained Michael Hemann, Land O'Lakes swine consultant. When the gel is used after weaning, it helps pigs find the feeders and start eating dry feed faster. The gel also provides hydration to newly weaned piglets.
Hemann said that while the product is designed primarily for use early in the nursery phase, it can also be used for at-risk pigs and even to help sows get back on feed.
Moss inquired about recommended feeding rates. Hemann quoted label directions for ½ to 1-lb. of UltraCare Gel per pig. One 5-gal. bucket can feed up to 200 pigs. “Feeding rates will vary depending upon production and management practices,” he added.
UltraCare Gel is sold in resealable buckets and remains stable during times of extreme heat or cold, Hemann said. He recommended scraping the gel out of the bucket in ribbon form, then crumbling it up on the baby pig mat or in the feeding area.
UltraCare Gel costs around $28/bucket, which amounts to between 12-13 cents/pig, Hemman said.
“I think the formulation into a gel seems to be a really good idea,” Nicolai related. “It is something a little pig would use.”
Johnson thought the product would be palatable and help baby pigs during the transition period after weaning.
“I wonder about the size and bulk of the product packaging for larger producers,” said Karriker. “That is a lot of buckets to handle in a week's time.”
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)
Biovator Mortality Composter
Hydro Engineering, Inc. and Puratone
The Biovator Mortality Composter got its start in the Canadian hog and poultry industries. The product is made by Puratone, a Canadian company, and is distributed by Hydro Engineering, Inc.
The Biovator can turn dead animals and afterbirth into compost within 4-14 days. According to John Walser, Hydro Engineering, Inc., one cubic yard of wood shavings must be added to the composter for every 300 lb. of mortalities to provide the proper mixture of carbon and nitrogen.
The Biovator needs to be rotated between six to 12 times per day when it is full of mortalities. Rotating the composter helps keep the product aerated and aids the composting process. Walser says it takes 15 minutes to complete each rotation. Rotations may be set on an automatic timer. The material moves through the composter throughout the process. Finished compost comes out of a screened discharge area at the end of the unit.
Nicolai asked if bones compost as quickly as the rest of a carcass in the composter.
Walser explained that any uncomposted bones that get caught in the discharge screen can be put back into the unit and will be composted by the time another cycle is complete.
The Biovator is available in various sizes. The 18-ft. unit has an estimated average daily capacity of 175 lb., or just under 65,000 lb. annually. The 30-ft. model has an estimated daily capacity of 350 lb., or between 65,000 to 130,000 lb. annually. A 42-ft. model has a daily capacity of 500 lb., or 130,000 to 200,000 lb., annually.
The Biovator's standard features include two loading doors, one inspection opening, and one opening with a removable discharge screen. Steel paddles are mounted on the inside of the galvanized vessel. The outside has a stainless steel shell. The driving system consists of a 1-hp, 110/220-volt motor and two gearboxes, heavy-duty bearings, sprocket and chain. Biovator models are priced starting at $21,000 and go up, depending on capacity, says Walser.
Walser said the Biovator gives producers the opportunity to keep dead animals out of sight while completing the composting process.
Karriker asked if a catch basin was available for the unit. Walser acknowledged there is not, but suggested producers could put an 8×8-ft. or 8×10-ft. concrete pad with a push wall at the outlet end of the unit so the compost could be easily scooped up with a loader.
Johnson asked about options, should a farm's mortality exceed the composter's limits.
“Each Biovator model has a suggested size of facility it can handle with a normal morality rate,” explained Walser. “If a hog facility's mortality rate is higher, they may want to consider purchasing more than one Biovator.”
Sizes are limited to those described. It cannot be customized.
Johnson noted that operating the Biovator would take some time to manage each day. “With day-to-day variation in mortality rate and weights of animals, it is always a challenge to manage dead stock,” he said. “The Biovator might be used in combination with compost bins or piles to handle mortality losses.”
Nicolai said as more and more rendering services disappear, it will leave a large number of producers without options for dead animal disposal, and this product may be an option to help deal with the impending problem.
“I think one of the biggest benefits of a product such as this is to help keep rendering trucks off the farm so we can stop cross-contamination between farms,” added Karriker.
Johnson agreed, noting he liked the biosecurity benefits the composter offers to pork producers.
Moss said he liked the positive implications from an environmental standpoint, too.
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The folks behind the Compost-A-Mat wanted to develop a product that can help reduce disease risk in the farrowing room and nursery.
Corn stalks and wood chips are used to make the single-use mat designed to keep sows and piglets comfortable for 14-19 days, when they begin biodegrading. The mats are picked up and discarded or composted after every group of pigs. This eliminates the risk of mats carrying disease from one group of pigs to the next.
The Compost-A-Mat is cooked at 370° F. to be free of pathogens. Nicolai asked if the mats would mold. Darryl Metcalfe, with USA Solutions, said mold is not a problem because the mats contain less than 3% moisture.
Responding to Johnson's question about the mat's flammability, the inventors explained they had conducted flammability tests in conjunction with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute in Minnesota. In the tests, heat lamps were placed right on the mat with no resulting fires.
Karriker noted, “Conducting the heat lamp tests showed foresight on the part of the inventors.”
Monty Moss asked whether the mat would slide around in farrowing crates. Metcalfe said the creators had tested various mat sizes before finding the 30×36-in. size seemed to work best in most farrowing crates without sliding. The Compost-A-Mats weigh just more than 2 lb.
Moss said he thought the mats looked warm and speculated the Compost-A-Mat could provide a benefit for spraddle-legged piglets. “You could even cut the mats up and use them behind sows when they are farrowing,” he said.
Nicolai pointed out that even if a producer were only using the Compost-A-Mats 25% of the time, it would still give rubber mats a chance to sit out some cycles, thus potentially reducing disease risk.
Karriker thought the mat looked like it could help reduce the variability when cleaning out farrowing and nursery rooms. “The key to successful nursery production is being able to implement all-in, all-out management, so the mat could help that success rate,” he explained. “This is a simple product that could have a lot of versatility.”
Karriker also wondered how much of the Compost-A-Mat would really end up in the manure pit. “Even if there were a pit issue, it might be worth it to break the disease cycle,” he added.
As the Compost-A-Mat inventor, Metcalfe replied, “I don't want this mat in the pit. Because the mat is 100% carbon-based, it can be composted, taking around 14 days to completely break down.”
“I liked the fact that the product is made of natural materials and is biodegradable,” Johnson related.
One mat costs around $3. The mats are shipped to producers on pallets containing 375 mats/pallet.
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The SelectDoser is a 12-volt peristaltic pump, similar to a hospital IV pump, designed to inject solutions such as vaccines, vitamins, feed supplements and water treatment products by a selected ratio proportionately to the flow of water. The pump offers a choice of two flow sensors that allow flows from 3 gal./hr., with a maximum water flow rate of 3,000 gal. /hr.
The flow sensor is plumbed directly into the water line, sending an impulse to the doser unit indicating the flow rate. This metering system will indicate on-screen the flow in gallons/liters/hr., and also measures total water consumption.
The “brain box” can be permanently mounted on the wall or to a board for portability. It comes with a transformer to plug directly into a 110-volt outlet. If power is lost due to an outage, the SelectDoser's retained memory will allow pumping to resume when electricity is restored.
Karriker asked the number of standard ratios the SelectDoser can handle. Brian Husby, Genesis Instruments, said product can be dispensed into the water system by choosing from 13 pre-set ratios. “Customers have the option to customize and add additional ratios, as needed,” he said.
Moss and Karriker wondered about the product's ability to handle viscous products. Husby said the advantage of SelectDoser is that product never enters the inner workings of the pump, but travels around a pump tube directly into the injection site.
Husby said a variety of products are being tested and that four models of the SelectDoser are available to handle varying flow rates of water. Four different, color-coded tubing options are available. A “meter only” feature allows the SelectDoser to act as a water meter when dosing is not required. This can help producers track water consumption, he added.
Karriker liked the ability to change the fluid pathway by changing a tube. “It would be easier to clean between batches,” he noted.
The SelectDoser costs $695.
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