New products displayed at the 22nd annual World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA, ranged from practical, common-sense ideas that could be put to work in operations of any size, to big picture, futuristic products and services.
This year’s New Product Review Panel included the following experts:
Kevin Hugoson is a farrow-to-finish producer who works with a number of contract growers as part of his family operation near East Chain, MN.
Barry Kerkaert is a veterinarian and swine industry consultant with the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic in Pipestone, MN.
John Patience is a professor of animal science specializing in swine nutrition at Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
Joseph Zulovich is a University of Missouri Extension agricultural engineer in Columbia, MO.
Summing up their thoughts about this year’s tour, the panel provided the following observations:
“We were looking for products that are practical and applicable,” explains Kevin Hugoson.
“The World Pork Expo is the premier showcase for the American pork industry,” John Patience notes. “Therefore, it was no surprise that we saw some truly innovative technology on display; some were quite high-tech and some were very simple, down-to-earth ideas that could fit onto almost any farm tomorrow. Overall, the panel concluded that our industry continues to attract innovators and problem solvers, which speaks well for our future.”
“There were options for operations that may need to make a system change in order to keep operating in a specific area. Several companies were taking their understanding from another industry and applying it to a problem faced by the swine industry,” Joe Zulovich observes.
“We had a nice array of products to review. We’ve got some simple ideas that help with maintenance and everyday pork production issues that can help farmers. We’ve also got products dealing with issues such as water separation, which I think is something we are going to have more need for in the future, not only in the United States, but also in countries where animal units are dense and nutrient management is the single biggest problem that producers face,” Barry Kerkaert concludes.
The panel looked at new products that had been introduced to the pork industry within the last year, which may be of particular interest to National Hog Farmer readers. Product nominations were submitted by the companies prior to World Pork Expo. Read more about the 19 nominated products spotlighted on pages 59-62 of the May 15, 2010 issue of National Hog Farmer.
Following are more details about the products the panel found were “most promising.” Products are not ranked in any particular order.
- Automated Production Systems (AP)
SmartIR Feed Sensor
- ARC Construction/Improved Solutions
- DNL Farms Ltd. Low-Stress Pig Handling for Truckers
Online Training Course
- Livestock Water Recycling
Swinewater Manure Treatment System
- MTech Systems
- Swine Management Tool Series (SMTS)
- Newport Labs ParaSail
- Preserve International MaxKlor
- U.S. Pork Center of Excellence
National Swine Nutrition Guide
- UNGAVA VivaSound Echograph
- Val-Co Ventra PRO Controller
Automated Production Systems (AP)
Smart IR Feed Sensor
Automated Production Systems (AP) designed the Smart IR Feed System Sensor to help prevent out-of-feed events and feed spills.
“This is a new method to control a feed system, and is more reliable than what we have used in the past,” explains AP’s Tom Stuthman. “The sensors that have been used up to this time can be subject to problems that come along with changes in temperature, humidity or feed type.”
The Smart IR Feed Sensor uses six beams of infrared light, projected through the inside of the sensor’s housing, to detect the presence of feed. “You have to interrupt all six beams at one time in order to deactivate the switch and shut the feed system down,” Stuthman says.
If there is a problem, a light begins flashing on the display panel. The internal alarm contact can be wired to an Agri-Alert or other on-site alarm system to dial out any time an out-of-feed event is occurring. The large digital display and system status LEDs can be seen from the aisle of a typical finishing barn. “The push-button interface makes operating and programming the Smart IR as simple as setting an alarm clock,” he notes.
An adjustable, on-delay timer will delay the restart of the feed system for a period of time in order to prevent potentially damaging short-cycling of the auger motor. Stuthman says the delay can be bypassed in order to start the auger.
A programmable maximum run timer will shut off the feed system if it runs continuously for an extended period of time, thus indicating that a bin is empty or has feed bridged inside. “This feature also helps make sure you aren’t going to run feed into the manure pit in the event of a problem,” Stuthman says.
The panel asked about durability and maintenance issues, particularly related to power washing in the barn. Stuthman says sealed gaskets on either side of the sensors help keep them protected from water during washing. “The receivers and transmitters for the infrared beams are housed on a flexible circuit board that is wrapped around a clear, polycarbonate housing. This protects them from feed, dust and moisture. Removing two screws allows the insert to be taken out, which is a nice feature from a serviceability standpoint,” Stuthman notes.
Kevin Hugoson thought the Smart IR Feed Sensor offered some practical, potential benefits. “When there is an out-of-feed event, it is a positive feature that the feed system shuts off automatically after a certain amount of time. Otherwise, when the bulk bin goes empty, or if feed hangs up in the bin, the augers continue to run,” Hugoson says.
The panel thought this was a well-thought-out product.
The AP Smart IR has a list price of $325. Learn more at www.automatedproduction.com. Call (217) 226-4449 or email apsales@automatedproduc
Ventra PRO Controller
Val-Co sought extensive producer feedback when creating a newly designed, user-friendly controller. The company drew on the popular attributes of previous generations of the Ventra controller line.
“The new Ventra PRO Controller design was mostly driven by today’s wean-to-finish requirements for (environmental) controlling. It has multi-zone, temperature-ramping capabilities and is designed for ease of use with toggle switches on the controller, vs. requiring the user to use menu-searching and look for settings,” explains Val-Co’s Todd Heisterkamp.
Multi-programming offers capacity for a variety of production phases. “Parameters are set so the grower has very little reprogramming if you are in the winter weaning phase and are supplementing with radiant heat or heat lamps, or moving to the summer wean phase where you can run it as a hot nursery,” says Heisterkamp.
The entire controller’s programming goes onto a standard SD card, offering up to 32 gigabytes of memory. “The SD card is standardized for devices ranging from your cell phone to your camera; if it goes out, this card can easily be replaced with a quick visit to your local Wal-Mart, as compared to having to wait to get in touch with a dealer to get a replacement,” Heisterkamp says.
Designed with an eye toward additional ease of maintenance and repair, the Ventra PRO controller features plug-and-play relays. Previously, if a producer blew a relay, it would likely mean the entire board would need to be replaced, which could be an expensive proposition. The new design allows the user to pull the relay and plug it back in. “Not only do growers save on the hardware, but they also don’t need to pay for a service call or an electrician in order to trouble-shoot,” Heisterkamp relates.
The new controller offers one-touch access to pertinent information, such as high/low temperatures, water usage, feeder run times, etc., all available in one menu. Propane usage can also be tracked as a calculated measurement based on the heater’s Btu rating.
To improve accessibility for different workers, the controller offers the option to toggle between Spanish or English language menus.
Patience asked whether the unit was designed for one barn or multiple barns. Heisterkamp says the unit is available with 16-channel, 24-channel or 32-channel capability, and accommodates expansion modules up to 96 channels. It can also handle up to nine zones per controller. “Eighty percent of the time, a producer will use one unit per barn,” Heisterkamp responds.
Zulovich asked how many variable-speed channels the controller offers. Heisterkamp says the 16- and 24-channel models have two variable-speed channels as options; the 32-channel version has two or four variable-speed channels as options.
Heisterkamp says a 16-channel model has a retail cost around $1,800, plus installation.
Swinewater Manure Treatment System
Livestock Water Recycling
The pre-manufactured Swinewater Manure Treatment System from Livestock Water Recycling, Inc. is designed to be placed directly at a swine production site. A patent-pending process takes advantage of both mechanical and chemical water treatment methods to extract solids, phosphorous, potassium, ammonia and nitrogen from livestock manure. The process produces a dry, cake-like material consisting of approximately 30% moisture in addition to clean, reusable water, according to Ross Thurston, Livestock Water Recycling, Inc.
“In order to make our system economical, we also made it fairly simple,” Thurston explains. “The system is based on the fact that manure has a profile of solids and dissolved solids, and we are sequentially removing them.”
In the initial step, manure is pumped from the barn directly into the system. Simple press technology is used to remove bulk solids down to around 800 microns in size. Manure-rich water flows into a specially designed solids separation tank, then on to a high-performance, mixed-media filtration system and through a water purification stage before being released as clean, reusable water. By-products are concentrated and can be composted on site and used as fertilizer.
“The overall reduction during the process is about 70% with swine manure,” Thurston says. “If you put 10 gallons of manure into the system, you get 7 gallons of potable water and about 3 gallons of various sludges. You can segregate your potash and ammonia from the phosphorus, or you can combine them.”
The enclosed, pre-manufactured system is designed to be placed on a concrete pad in a heated, ventilated building. Storage is necessary for both the liquids and solids produced during the process. Installation of the system eliminates the need for a manure storage lagoon.
Thurston says the Manure Treatment System is designed for operations with an annual manure output ranging from 5-20 million gallons, and the installed cost is estimated at $300,000 to $500,000.
Hugoson asked if the cost estimate included the heated, ventilated building and storage structures. Thurston confirmed that it does, adding that the operating costs are about ⅓ cent per gallon of manure per year. “For an operation that produces 7 million gallons of manure per year, it would cost roughly $20,000 to operate,” he adds.
Once installed, the system is intended to be stationary.
“In order to obtain the separation you need, the system works best with fresh manure that is a maximum of 20 days old,” Thurston says. Hugoson asked if older manure, such as 4-month-old manure, could be processed by the system.
“Using the older manure slows the process down,” Thurston says. “If you treat it in a timely fashion, then you can store the concentrate. It is important to note that you would only need storage for one-third of the total manure volume.” An operation producing 5 million gallons of manure per year would need 700,000 gallons of storage due to storing concentrates instead of raw manure.
Zulovich wondered about manure volume needed to run the system. “With the deep pit buildings, such as 4 ft. deep, would you turn the whole volume of the manure over every 14 days?” he asks.
Thurston says the system is designed to run continuously, therefore flushing the entire pit volume and keeping the manure less than 20 days old. Optimally, the system is set up to return clean water to flush the pits. As well as keeping the pits and ambient air clean and hygienic, this will reduce the manure concentration to the treatment system, he adds.
Patience asked if the system removed viruses and whether the water is safe for pigs to drink.
“Testing shows viruses and pathogens are removed during the filtration process,” Thurston notes.
Livestock Water Recycling, Inc. is a subsidiary of a groundwater remediation company with 20 years of experience in the pollution control and water treatment business. The company has extensive experience installing and commissioning plants for the treatment of contaminated water throughout North America. Though they are relatively new to the livestock manure treatment business, Thurston estimates the Swinewater Manure Treatment System would last 15 to 20 years.
“I liked the fact that this company has a long-term environmental track record, and they have already made a name for themselves working with similar technology,” Zulovich says.
“Where this product would come in handy is in areas with a high concentration of animal units, perhaps on sow farms, for example,” Kerkaert says.
“The water separation technology could be very useful, both in the United States and internationally. There will be a need for this type of technology in places like North Carolina that don’t have the land base to support the manure being produced without using an anaerobic lagoon system or some other treatment technology. Pork producers could export the nutrients back to other parts of the country if the solids have been removed,” Zulovich notes.
The need for additional storage concerned the panel. “Producers would need two manure handling systems, one for solids and one for liquids,” Patience says.
“Many producers in southern Minnesota, for example, have deep pits, so it wouldn’t be as practical to use because additional storage is needed. Producers would also have to be aware that the separation technology works better with manure specifically aged for 20 days or less,” Hugoson says.
“One advantage was the ability to run the water through an irrigation system,” Zulovich points out.
National Swine Nutrition Guide
U.S. Pork Center of Excellence
The National Swine Nutrition
Guide (NSNG) provides the most current, research-based information available regarding the nutrition requirements of the U.S. swine herd. The U.S. Pork Center of Excellence (USPCE) orchestrated the project with funding assistance provided by the United Soybean Board. The coordinated effort led to the creation of the practical publication that was authored and reviewed by a team of academic and industry nutritionists from the nation’s pork industry.
“The National Research Council (NRC) nutrient requirements for swine, the basis for all U.S. swine nutrition programs, was based on research that had been conducted at least 12 years ago,” explains Bob Thaler, Extension swine specialist at South Dakota State University and NSNG committee member. “With changes in production levels and genetics, the realization was that those recommendations were just no longer as accurate as they should be.”
As a first step, a survey of industry leaders was conducted to help define the goals of a revised nutrition guide. The survey included the pork production side of the industry as well as feed companies and universities.
Following compilation of the survey results, the USPCE worked with collaborating swine nutritionists representing 14 U.S. universities to bring together the most cutting-edge research available on swine nutrition.
The resulting National Swine Nutrition Guide contains 35 nutrition factsheets and over 300 pages of nutrient recommendations and feeding guidelines for every facet of swine production. It also comes complete with a booklet containing nutrient recommendation tables from the factsheets, and a diet formulation and evaluation CD.
Producers can use the CD to formulate swine diets on a least-cost basis. “One of the biggest strengths for producers is the ration formulation program. All of the values in the program are conservative recommendations that will support solid performance, but users can change values to customize the data according to their operations. This is a least-cost ration-balancing program, and it allows producers to evaluate the economics of different feeding programs in order to choose the best one for their operation,” Thaler says.
Producers can select and input the types of production/performance that best fits their herd, choosing from high-lean gain, low-lean gain, and medium-lean gain genotype options for grow-finish pigs and litter performance for sows. The user can compare diets according to level of productivity. Additionally, it is possible to calculate feed cost/pig/day, feed cost/cwt., feed cost/ton and the cost/production phase.
Thaler notes that specific problems can be evaluated via the ration-balancing program. “A producer could list vomitoxin levels found in their feedstuffs and then have the program list total resulting vomitoxin levels in the diet. So if your goal is to have 1 ppm vomitoxin, for example, the program would indicate the dietary inclusion percentages you would need to accomplish that goal,” he says.
“It is a good product, with up-to-date information that went through a valuable review process,” Hugoson notes. “I like the fact that all of these minds were brought together from different universities, and they are agreeing on the same principles vs. leaving producers wondering who to believe.”
“This seems like an outstanding tool. With this product you could have a consulting nutritionist come into your operation quarterly to review the nutrition information and make sure you are using the diet formulation tool correctly. My concern would be that someone who doesn’t understand nutrition could get themselves into trouble if they entered the wrong information,” Kerkaert states.
The panel encouraged producers to work with a nutritionist to get the specifications set up correctly when using the tool initially.
The VivaSound Echograph was designed to offer a wide variety of options contained in a compact unit. “The probes are detachable, meaning you can connect multiple probes that allow users to do four applications, including capturing backfat measurements, loin estimation, pregnancy checking and intramuscular fat (IMF) readings,” says François Mainguy, UNGAVA CEO and one of the inventors of the product.
The 6-lb. unit is manufactured with an ultra-rugged, aluminum frame. “This unit takes all of the digital capabilities of machines that typically would have to be tabletop size and combines them in a super-compact package powered by a lithium battery,” Mainguy relates. “Think of it as a big iPhone with ultrasound capability. It has a number of features, including a USB port, network connections, a 32-gigabyte memory card, and the ability to record movies and snapshot images of the animals. The unit also has a Wi-Fi option and a global positioning system (GPS) option. A big monitor or projector could be added if the machine is to be used for training purposes.”
Real-time backfat measurements can be made in millimeters or inches.
Hugoson asked how long the probe needs to be held on the animal to obtain an accurate image. Mainguy says images are captured in a few seconds because the machine has a refresh rate of 20-25 images/second. The unit features a 100% digital beamformer to help provide crisp images.
The VivaSound Echograph was designed as a modular system with a small, slide-in cartridge located on the back of the unit. “The cartridge defines the capabilities. So if we feel the industry wants additional ultrasound products, we could design new cartridges and the base unit would remain the same,” Mainguy continues.
Users are not required to use UNGAVA probes with the machine. The echograph is also able to perform imaging functions for the equine, bovine and ovine markets.
Patience asked about the margin of error when reading backfat and loin measurements with the machine. Mainguy says the limitation is set by wave physics of the probe, but the VivaSound Echograph itself is accurate to within 0.5 mm (0.02 in.) and is extremely precise.
“My bias in ultrasound is in a commercial setting, where you probably aren’t going to use ultrasound on pigs for backfat,” Kerkaert notes. “We are still using ultrasound for pregnancy (testing), but those machines are somewhat less expensive by comparison. The Wi-Fi and all of the extra components may not be as important in a 1,200-sow gestation barn. It’s possible that breeding companies or research barns may be able to use the product.”
Patience agreed. “I could see a big company that is involved in a lot of sow research may want to use the product. Sometimes getting information from the packing plant isn’t all that easy, so if you gathered ultrasound data prior to going to market, you could gather more information.”
“A consultant who may be gathering a variety of different measurements could use the variety of probes. It could be used in a platform where the user is going to do a lot of different types of imaging work,” Zulovich observes.
Offering a producer perspective, Hugoson says, “If you have varied genotypes, and if you had an idea of what type of pig should go to your packer option, maybe you could train yourself using this tool to figure out which pigs may work better for different markets.”
The VivaSound Echograph is entirely designed and manufactured in Québec City, Canada. It sells for $8,000 to $12,000, depending on the probe and software options. A linear array probe is included with the purchase. Buyers will receive training on the machine. The Echograph is covered by a one-year warranty.
Swine Management Tool Series (SMTS)
MTech Systems worked with poultry producers for over 20 years before teaming with a large swine integrator to develop a suite of software that would serve as a complete supply chain management system for pork producers.
The Swine Management Tool Series (SMTS) uses a comprehensive protein production database as the foundation of a software suite made up of 10, fully integrated modules. “Our goal is to create a system that is global and flexible and can be plugged into any swine system located anywhere worldwide,” explains Christopher Blosfeld, MTech Systems sales and marketing manager.
The main components of SMTS are sold as separate modules so that different arms within the production chain can buy and utilize the pieces that apply to their stage of production. Ultimately, all modules combine into a single solution for full swine integration.
“We have the operational modules, including a sow management, a grow-out management and a feedmill management module that are all integrated, for example,” Blosfeld relates. “Feed information about the nutritional makeup and cost of that feed can flow out to the sow farms, then also into the records for the finishing farms. The system helps attain complete traceability, not only from a feeding perspective, but also from an animal perspective, a medication perspective and a cost perspective.”
The planning modules build on the existing information in the operational modules to help with decision making. A sow planning assistant module, for example, analyzes everything from replacement gilts to sow movement and insemination events in order to meet increased production plans based on plant capacities or business growth. The grower planning assistant forecasts weights and ages and transportation logistics for moving pigs between nurseries, finishing farms and plants. Another planning module within the system gives producers the ability to forecast market weights with the option of factoring in things like seasonal weather conditions that may impact feed consumption and days to market.
“Today, it is not enough for any protein production industry to just manage and analyze performance. We have to take the integrator’s historical performance information and formulate movement plans, placement plans and sales targets in order to optimize efficiency and profitability. Everything related to your operation — including your capacities and your ability to produce hogs and send them to market — is covered in the planning modules,” Blosfeld says.
Seeking additional clarification, Patience asked, “Does the system go back and compare the predictions that were made with what was actually accomplished, like how the marketing plans worked out?”
Blosfeld says short-range models perform this comparison, and long-range models are available for future analysis. “Everything that is captured is constantly updated, so the SMTS is forecasting and reforecasting based on actual information.
“For instance, in the forecasting model, many variables are thrown into the mix that may impact the final pig weights, such as rate-of-gain for a particular breed, feed consumption, etc. Each component is used to contribute to the final forecast right up until the hogs are marketed,” he says.
Hugoson wondered if the system would replace specific production record systems, such as PigChamp, that a producer may currently be using. He also asked if the SMTS could interface with feed systems.
Blosfeld says producers can replace their record systems or the SMTS can interface with most existing systems, with the information being downloaded from the recordkeeping system into the SMTS. In some cases, Microsoft Windows-based mobile, handheld devices are used to collect data. “We can send company service people to the farms to collect data on the handheld devices, and then the information is synchronized through the Internet back to the central database,” he explains.
Data can also be entered manually, though Blosfeld points out that is not the preferred method, as the system supports so many different performance variables.
Users have a variety of point-and-click and drag-and-drop options for creating customized reports and for organizing the data they collect into useful graphic reports and tables.
Companies that may not have in-house technical support have the option of obtaining additional support service from MTech Systems. Having worked with large global integrators as well as local, small-volume companies, MTech has a pricing structure for any size operation, Blosfeld says. Using the total number of sows/gilts/boars to calculate the cost of the breeding modules and total finished hogs for the growing modules creates a simple, scalable model that fits globally.
“This is an integrated management system driven by inventory and control,” Zulovich observes. The panel thought the product would be best suited to very large producers.
“Producer’s Choice” Honors Go to
Swine Management Tool Series
Attendees at the 2010 World Pork Expo were given a chance to conduct their own New Product Tour and select the new product they felt is the “most promising.”
Expo visitors were encouraged to stop by the National Hog Farmer booth to view a display showcasing the new products that had been nominated for the New Product Tour. Votes for favorite products were cast and tallied, and the Swine Management Tool Series (SMTS) from MTech Systems was the top vote getter, earning the “Producer’s Choice” award.
ParaSail is the swine industry’s first avirulent live, single-dose vaccine for Haemophilus parasuis. While providing some background on the origins of this product, Randy Simonson, chief operating officer for Newport Laboratories, explains, “Haemophilus parasuis is a bacterial disease that impacts pigs all over the world. Until this new vaccine, the only two things available were killed vaccines or antibiotics.
“We’re especially excited about this vaccine because there are a lot of different strains of Haemophilus parasuis. Controlling the disease with killed vaccines is problematic because you have to have the right strain or it isn’t going to work, and protection against other strains will be limited,”he notes.
Available exclusively through veterinarians, ParaSail has been proven to aid in the prevention of Glasser’s Disease caused by Haemophilus parasuis. USDA has approved ParaSail for use as a single, 1-ml dose, administered intramuscularly. The vaccine should be given to pigs 21 days of age or older.
Kerkaert asked how long after vaccination it would take for pigs to develop maximum immunity and be protected. “We recommend vaccinating at least two weeks before you expect the animal to have disease exposure,” Simonson says.
The panel asked if ParaSail could be administered orally. Simonson says that oral efficacy has not been proven.
Zulovich asked if ParaSail could be mixed with other vaccines or medications. Simonson says the live vaccine is very sensitive to antibiotics. Consequently, the label suggests no antibiotics be given to the pigs in any form for three days before or one day after ParaSail has been administered.
Hugoson asked if ParaSail could be administered at the same time that pigs receive circovirus or mycoplasma injections. In order to make sure pigs do not have negative outcomes, Newport Laboratories does not recommend mixing the vaccines.
Kerkaert asked, “What does your data look like as far as decreased lesions and improved performance with this vaccine?” Simonson says, in challenge studies, pigs vaccinated with ParaSail showed as much as a 90% decrease in lesions, plus a reduction in fever and minimal mortality, when compared with placebo-vaccinated animals. However, research and data collection are ongoing.
Simonson says pricing information is available from veterinarians.
ARC Construction/Improved Solutions, Inc.
The Sure Drop from Improved Solutions, Inc. is designed to help prevent pig deaths by opening sidewall curtains during a power failure or an overheating event.
“The Sure Drop is designed to work with existing release devices on the market,” explains Andrew Rudolph, Improved Solutions, Inc. “Curtain drops of all sorts have traditionally held a winch handle, and we have depended on a winch to unwind to drop the curtain. This has always been the weak link in that chain.”
With extensive experience in building hog barns, Rudolph cites an instance where a producer lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pigs when a generator failed, an alarm line was down, and the winch failed to unwind.
“I came up with this concept of holding a loop in the cable and releasing it. The winch is only there for recovery and adjustment,” he explains. “Whenever there is a power loss event, a handle drops and a loop releases instead of having a handle unwind. To recover, you crank the cable off of the hand winch, allowing the cable anchor bolt back into the hole, and then you can refasten the latch.”
The Sure Drop includes a mounting panel with two fixed pulleys, the cable release device, and the moveable pulley pre-mounted on the panel. The panel is configured to work as either a left- or right-handed device. The latch arrangement is all stainless steel and is mounted on a galvanized back plate.
Panel members asked whether rust on the galvanized back plate was a problem. “I compared the backing plate to some of the other curtain machines that are also made with galvanized construction, and it should last similarly. We offer a stainless steel back panel option for about $45, but I don’t think it is necessary,” Rudolph notes.
The Sure Drop can be used to over-ride a gear system if curtains are raised and lowered with a controller. Rudolph has also been able to configure options for barns with curtains that need to be raised. Ceiling mounting options are also available.
Rudolph recommends using a 220-volt power source and says the plug that is used for the Sure Drop should also have a back-up thermostat.
The panel felt this was a very useful product for producers.
The Sure Drop costs around $480. Learn more by calling (618) 895-1318 or email email@example.com.
Low-Stress Pig Handling for Truckers Online Course
DNL Farms Ltd.
Cameras were actually mounted inside semi-trucks during pig loading and unloading operations in order to gather the video used in the Low-Stress Pig Handling for Truckers Online Training Course, says Nancy Lidster, DNL Farms. “We feel understanding the animals’ behaviors are a key part of teaching people how to handle the animals. It is helpful when people can see what is stopping the animal’s movement,” Lidster explains.
The training course is designed to teach practical skills to help truckers move stock more easily in pot-belly trailers and maintain the value of the animals being transported.
Lidster notes poor animal handling can cost pork producers millions of dollars every year through death, trim and meat-quality losses. “We show teachable skills that help truckers realize they don’t have to fight with the animals in order to move them,” she says.
DNL Farms, based in Canada, has been teaching animal handling training courses since 2000. The online training course uses graphics, narrative, and video examples of good and problem handling to help educate people.
“This training course has been set up to complement, not replace, other trucker courses, such as Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA) or Certified Livestock Transporter (CLT),” Lidster says.
Each of the 15 training modules has stated objectives and takes trainees step-by-step through the learning process. Course material is presented in a PowerPoint format, which allows trainees to take as long as they need on each slide, Lidster says. Course sections can be completed in any order. Each section ends with an exam to review key points and check the trainee’s level of understanding.
Trainees who complete the course and average at least 80% on the exams receive numbered certificates. Records are available to verify trainees’ performance in the course, and DNL Farms will keep a permanent record of the trainees’ names, their marks in the course and other relevant information, according to Lidster.
The panel asked about the background research that went into developing the training course. Lidster explains the course creators raised pigs for over 20 years. After attending a Bud Williams Stockmanship School in 1996, they realized there were more effective methods for moving pigs than they had been using.
In addition to working with Williams, Lidster has taken video footage and studied several hundred people moving pigs in trucks, barns, packing plants and assembly yards to better understand pig response patterns. The knowledge gained from studying other handlers played a vital role in the Truckers’ Online Training Course.
Lidster also notes DNL Farms had the course reviewed and sought feedback from pork industry experts, including producer, packer and trucking company representatives.
Lidster says people are impressed with the detail the course provides and that participants have noted it is helpful if new truckers can ride along with a trucker to observe loading and unloading of pigs prior to taking the course.
“You can sense the developers of this training program have a lot of passion for animals and that they are trying to share what they know. However, with Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Truckers Quality Assurance (both National Pork Board programs), information about handling animals is provided for U.S. truckers. I wonder if we really need two training systems,” Kerkaert asks. “There could be some really good concepts here. I’m definitely a believer that if you hire a new driver to haul pigs, you need to teach them how to handle pigs, then let them work on the truck for a while, and then come back and learn more about what they have seen.”
The panel was concerned about whether or not there is a way to verify the identity of the person(s) who took the online course.
“Perhaps the truckers could go to a central location to take the online course with a facilitator to certify the identity of the person who took the course. I don’t think the TQA program is available online, so maybe the developers could work to market this to the National Pork Board,” Zulovich states.
Individuals or companies can purchase the course online for $105, using a credit card or PayPal. Lidster says discounts are available if a company wants to enroll more than 11 people in the course.
MaxKlor is a stabilized chlorine dioxide product that can be used as a water treatment option for both pigs and pork producers.
“What is different about MaxKlor is that it has a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) registration, which means it is certified as feedgrade for pigs and approved so humans can drink it, too,” explains Jesse McCoy, Ivesco Tech Services representative and team leader for Preserve International’s line of water treatment products. “That makes this a special product when compared to other chlorine products that are out there. The ability to treat all of the water at one location really cuts down on costs of equipment.”
MaxKlor’s chemical formulation is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inactivate bacteria, viruses, protozoa and algae in watering systems for animals. The product also oxidizes minerals like iron and manganese for easier and more effective removal through filtration.
Kerkaert asked, “If I have a problem with high manganese in my water, or with hard water, will this help me?”
McCoy says that MaxKlor could help improve the effectiveness of filters to remove minerals and that producers with that problem should have a filter to collect the minerals that are separated out.
“Quality drinking water is going to be an integral part of pork production in the years to come. Water is the biggest input producers have and, more often than not, its taste and smell leave much to be desired. But there are things the industry can do to fix it,” says Stuart Heller, Preserve International representative.
McCoy says while MaxKlor is not going to increase water consumption on every farm, it may help make water more palatable in some cases. “If you have sulfur-smelling water or pigs that aren’t consuming as much water as you would like, this product is approved for use on taste and odor control in water. It’s not a silver bullet; nothing in water treatment is. The results are very farm-specific,” he acknowledges. “Water is different everywhere. This is a piece of water treatment, not water treatment as a whole.”
Although the product could be added with a medicator, McCoy suggests adding MaxKlor to the water supply via metering pumps hooked up to flow meters. Using metering pumps, MaxKlor is injected into the system based on water flow, eliminating the need for mixing stock solutions.
The price for a 5-gallon container is around $75. The 5-gallon container can treat approximately 100,000 gallons of drinking water at recommended inclusion rates.
While the panel would have liked to see more research data to support some of the information presented on the product, they felt the company had done an admirable job in obtaining the NSF and EPA registrations to certify the product as a safe water treatment option for pigs and humans. Heller says a number of field trials are underway relating to water consumption and animal health. More data will be forthcoming from Preserve and Ivesco.
Learn more about MaxKlor at www.preserveinternational.com. Call (800) 995-1607 or email stuartheller@