Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Ingenuity of Pork Producers

Call it inventive, resourceful, creative or just plain desperate (I’m kind of kidding…); pork producers have the most interesting tricks hidden up high in those coverall sleeves of theirs. Spending time at industry trade shows and conferences, I’ve heard a lot about different contraptions producers have rigged up to make any job a little easier. It always impresses me. I may be biased, but pork producers come up with some great ideas to simplify tasks and improve their operation’s efficiency.

Oftentimes they don’t realize their own cleverness until someone else makes a note of it. Take my dad, for instance. Most of the PigEasy products were developed with only our farm in mind and weren’t put on the market until an outside consultant noticed it on a walk through and mentioned to him that it would be beneficial for other farms to use.

Today’s trick isn’t some new and exciting product we’ve spent years developing, but it gives an example of how a little handiness can make a huge difference in streamlining daily tasks.

When we began AI-ing sows over 20 years ago, Dad wanted to keep the AI supplies organized and in one spot. He didn’t want that spot to be in the way and also didn’t want it to slow down the process by keeping it stationary. After noticing the top of the g-stalls were connected via two rods, Dad decided to make up a tray that could use the rods as a track.

The roller tray is made from a light angle iron and 1/4" thick plastic sheet. He bought small lawn mower wheels, cut off the rubber and installed them on a 1/2” rod.

Some simple cutting and welding is all it took to make the roller tray and it has helped speed up and simplify AI-ing sows at KFI. We still use the originals today.

As a pork producer, you have a never-ending list of tasks and any tool that makes your day easier is well worth the upfront time it takes to put it together.

That’s why we’re called PigEASY. We believe simplifying daily chores can make a huge impact on the success of your sow farm.

Until next time,


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday’s Trick of the Trade: Ear Tagging

KFI began a new program some time ago that required all pigs to be tagged on both ears Day 1-2. We quickly got set up to tag hundreds of pigs a day; everything seemed straightforward and efficient. That was until we observed the toll it took on our staff. Our KFI crew was burning out rapidly and who could blame them? They were squeezing the tagger on both ears of hundreds of wiggling pigs while hunched over holding them in place. Whew! That’s a lot to ask someone to do day in and day out.

Dave knew he had to figure out a solution when his employees began to dread the task at hand. He had to #1: eliminate the repetitive squeezing, #2: somehow find a way to more efficiently organize all the tags before they are applied to the pigs, and #3: speed up the process. 

With collaboration, the PigEasy ID Cart was developed. It wasn’t surprising the benefits of using the ID Cart blossomed after using the first prototype. Because maybe you’re like me and prefer to read fast, I compiled a list of the Top Benefits of the PigEasy ID Cart:

1) Saves your Hands and Back

To tag pigs with the PigEasy ID Cart, the operator standing upright, simply holds the pig in one hand, positions the ear with the other and steps on the pedal that applies the tagger. That’s it. This means no more squeezing and no more crouching to tag pigs. Not only do you save your hands and back from the complications of the repetitive, strenuous task, but you also get rid of the typical fatigue that shows up quickly into this daily chore.

What this means for you if you’re a

Sow Farm Employee:  You save your body from the arduous job of tagging and are able to be more effective in this task and throughout your shift each day.

Sow Farm Manager/Owner:  You increase efficiency, employee morale and retention while lowering risk of workmen’s comp issues in the future. (3 Words: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) 

2) Speeds Up the Process

The PigEasy ID Cart is set up as a two person job, so someone is always loading the taggers and the other is holding the pig and operating the foot pedals. With everything set up, in place and in close proximity, you can quickly tag a lot of pigs.

Tags are set up on the sheets prior to heading out to the farrowing barn so organizing is done before the task begins. This makes for a quick turnaround.

With everything operating smoothly and efficiently without fatigue, the KFI crew can tag a litter in about 2 minutes. (This is from the time they arrive to load the pigs in the cart, to finishing up the paperwork after all the pigs are tagged!)

3) More Uniform Application

Now, I understand that “fast” isn’t always better. But because the PigEasy ID Cart is operated by two foot pedals, the person tagging can use both hands to hold the pig and ear in place. It’s a lot easier to get the placement of the tag right when you’re not handling the tagger and the pig at the same time.

This leads to an increase in tag retention later in the wean to finish stage.

4) Increased Organization and Efficiency

One of the first prototypes on the farm

By having all the tags ready on the tagging sheet before you head out to the barns, you’ll have the tags already organized before things get hectic in the room. The tagging sheet is also designed so the tags won’t fall out if you were to drop it.

Speaking of the tagging sheet, there are trays underneath the hopper for 3 additional trays so you do not have to head back to the office when you empty one. If you tag by color, you can organize each tray to a different color and have it close by for simple switching.

Its holding hopper specifically designed for the cart is large enough for a full litter and deep enough so they can’t jump out.

The PigEasy ID Cart tags pigs quickly, accurately, and with a lot less effort compared to manual tagging. Take a look at this video to watch the KFI crew tagging in action:

If you have similar problems with tattooing, no problem! We can easily convert the ID Cart to accommodate tattooing.

Call (888) 354-0112 for pricing and details.

Until next time,