Farms.com, Ltd. has acquired all shares of PigCHAMP, Inc. from a small group of employees and consultants that, just two years ago, had acquired exclusive, worldwide rights to the popular recordkeeping software program.
PigCHAMP, Inc., originally developed at the University of Minnesota, is the leading pork industry software company with over 5,000 producers representing 1.5 million sows.
“PigCHAMP is a great fit for Farms.com and will complement our existing services to the pork producer,” comments Doug Maus, president and CEO of Farms.com, Ltd. based in London, Ontario.
Maus says an initial goal will be to develop synergies between the Pig-CHAMP production-tracking capabilities and Farms.com's marketing initiatives. “Our real goal is to extend what we already have in existence in our cash trading business, to basically add information to the marketing services we already have.”
The pork industry badly needs road signs, says Maus. “In principle, one of the huge values in being able to move this information forward — and one of our strongest goals for the future — is we would hope that we could get better aggregate numbers and be able to provide the industry with the sight that it needs. Clearly, it's our view that if we could move the information in a timely fashion, we can certainly come up with fields of data that at least tell producers how many sows were bred this week, how many pigs were weaned, how many pigs were marketed. If we can get those fields right in aggregate, we can give the industry some tremendous direction as to what is currently being loaded into the supply side of the pipeline,” he says.
Maus also foresees a grow-finish program that clearly shows how fast pigs are moving through the supply pipeline — another factor that seems to set producers' marketing efforts askew.
Windows Application Coming
High on the new owner's priority list is the introduction of a Windows-based version of PigCHAMP. Farms. com has an in-house, internet-based production records system which provides an interface to move DOS-based (PigCHAMP) information into a sequel database. This gives them the ability to migrate and store all existing DOS-based records now.
“We have plans to come out of the gate very early in the New Year with a Windows-based version of PigCHAMP which will enable producers to move their information ‘in’ and ‘out’ of that database,” Maus notes.
Reinforcing the Windows-based initiative, Maus also announced the hiring of sales and customer services representatives Jayne Jackson and Susan Olson. Jackson most recently served as sales and customer service manager for PigTales, while Olson recently served as product manager at MetaFarms.com, Eagan, MN. Ron Jessen will remain as general manager in PigCHAMP's Apple Valley, MN, headquarters.
Bureau Structure Intact
The service bureau-type structure will be retained, but Maus noted that a complete evaluation will be undertaken to ensure producers at all levels of production are being served.
“We will have to stratify it. We see the bureau as a way of being able to provide a lot of existing clients a comfort level that they are still dealing with their (swine) health care professional, which has been a large part of why those bureaus were set up in the first place.”
It is common for a veterinary consultant to serve as a bureau to collect, input and analyze herd or site performance records in a specific area or group. Similarly, some of the mega-sized operations established a bureau-type structure to evaluate groups of farms within their production system.
Maus is quick to point out, however, a lot of the shared data is done in aggregate so nobody really knows who the customer is. This allows for data comparisons and benchmarking without identifying individuals or farms.
Big Picture Value
Summing up, Maus says: “We really want to help every producer, at all strata, to have an ability to maximize their return on assets and return on equity. To be able to do that, I really believe that we not only have to understand the back end of reproductive and growth data, but we have to have a better flow of information back from the processor as well. Otherwise, it is going to be very difficult to address some of the key industry drivers — such as source verification and food safety. Our future is going to depend on it.”