The Intelligence Surveillance System (ISS) from Conception Ro-Main, Inc., was recently awarded the F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2013 Banff Pork Seminar in Banff, Alberta, Canada. This new technology is designed to significantly reduce energy costs while providing optimal ambient temperature for piglets in a micro-zone area under a specially designed creep cover. The new system also allows for independent and optimal management of farrowing room temperature for the well-being and comfort of the sows.

With the ISS unit, the heat lamp is suspended above the piglet creep area and fitted through the aluminum creep cover. The cover features an extended lip that prevents radiant heat from escaping and eliminates cold drafts resulting from the typical chimney effect of a heat lamp in operation.

An infrared heat sensor and a heat lamp controller automatically keep the piglets in a cozy environment with a built-in, pre-set temperature curve, from 96.8°F to 80°F, which optimizes piglet health and comfort from birth to weaning.

The creep area constitutes an optimized, temperature-controlled “cocoon zone” that prevents drafts and the loss of radiant heat, explains Audrey Hawey, Conception Ro-Main, Inc.

Energy Saving Features

Upon the birth of the first piglet, the sensing system automatically turns on the heat lamp. The creep temperature is then automatically monitored and controlled by the sensing unit to ensure that the optimum temperature is maintained for piglet comfort.

Since each creep temperature is monitored and controlled individually, producers can regulate the farrowing room ambient temperature to optimize sow comfort by setting the room temperature at 65°F, for example, without affecting the piglets’ comfort.

“Sows benefit from a more comfortable ambient room temperature and, consequently, are more likely to increase their feed intake and milk production,” Hawey says. “Since piglets are already benefiting from an optimal micro-zone ambient temperature, a maximum of milk energy is contributed to their growth instead of being wasted to fight cold to keep them warm.

After nursing, piglets are naturally drawn back to their comfort zone in the creep area. This helps prevent death loss due to crushing, especially during the first few days following birth. Canadian producers who have used this technology have reported a very significant decrease in electricity costs and a 1-2% reduction in preweaning piglet mortality rate, Hawey adds.

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Birth Alert

The Intelligence Surveillance System offers an optional birth-alert function to help bring timely assistance to the sow and piglets. An infrared sensor detects the birth of the first piglet and notifies the farrowing room personnel that the birthing process has begun. This technology has eliminated the need for heat lamps to be turned on prior to farrowing, thus reducing energy costs.

Hawey reports more than 6,000 ISS units have been sold to Canadian pork producers, representing around 30,000 sows. The ISS cost per farrowing stall ranges from $250 and $475 (U.S.), depending on the options selected. One controller can be used to regulate the temperature of two farrowing crate creep areas. Producers may purchase the controller alone or invest in the entire controller, lamp and creep setup with the birth-alert option. The return on investment can be realized in around two years, Hawey says.

Learn more about the ISS at