Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pork Producer Intuition turns Innovation

World Pork Expo, Des Moines, IA

The 2017 World Pork Expo is around the corner and we’re putting the finishing touches on PigEasy products that will be featured in our expanding booth (#V729). Even as we focus on promoting our tried and true product line, Dave never stops developing new innovations.

The tough decision every May is “What do we put in our booth this year?”

1. MealMeter feed dispenser -

Stainless Steel MealMeter

No question about it, we’ll have the MealMeter set up in a g-stall display. The MealMeter is what launched PigEasy and we are proud of how it boosts feed intake while preventing waste with incoming gilts, weaned sows and under conditioned sows.

PigEasy Sow Feeder

2. PigEasy Sow Feeder - 

The MealMeter will also be installed in the PigEasy Sow Feeder. The sow feeder’s one-of-a-kind design eliminates feed waste. (Yes, it really does!) By removing the corners, making this her only water source and using the MealMeter as the ad lib feed dispenser, you will get rid of the tedious task of cleaning out feeders.

PigEasy Farrowing Crate

3. PigEasy Farrowing Crate - 

The PigEasy Sow Feeder will be displayed with the PigEasy Farrowing Crate. Simple design with exclusive features, the PigEasy Farrowing Crate is built with durability, ease of use, and sow comfort in mind. (Remember the Flip Over feature?) Stop by our booth (#V729) to check out the one crate that makes sow care a whole lot easier.

We’re launching a number of new products this year. Some continue to focus on feeding because we know ourselves how feed is one of the biggest expenses on the farm and is always an area of improvement at every stage.

4. Grow/Finish MealMeter Feeder -

It’s been in the development process at Klocke Farms for quite some time, but we’re excited to finally introduce the Grow/Finish MealMeter Feeder.  By taking what we learned with the PigEasy Sow Feeder, we were able to create a feeder for grow/finish barns that is efficient, effective and increases consumption without the need to adjust or clean. We’ve seen the benefits ourselves at Klocke Farms, and we’re eager to feature this new concept at the show.

5. Breeder Bowl -

PigEasy Breeder Bowl

Speaking of PigEasy Sow Feeder, we’ve also wanted to allocate the success of the PigEasy Sow Feeder over to the breed row. To have the same feeding system in the breed row that’s also in farrowing makes the transition seamless and avoids any reproductive hiccups in the future.  To mirror the inner workings of the Sow Feeder, we’ve developed the PigEasy Breeder Bowl. The Breeder Bowl benefits from the same bottom design as the Sow Feeder without interfering with her access to boar exposure during breeding. Like the Sow Feeder, the Breeder Bowl serves as both her feed and water source, which regulates over-dispensing and over-watering and is self-cleaning. If you’re wanting to take feed intake to the next level pre-breed, you need to check out the MealMeter with the Breeder Bowl set up.

6. PigEasy I.D. Cart

PigEasy ID Cart

Finally, we’ve branched out from feeders and tackled another major migraine on a sow farm; pig tagging.  Certain programs require ear tagging all pigs farrowed on a sow farm and it becomes a time-consuming, fatigue-inducing chore. Ear tagging hundreds of pigs a day takes a huge toll on staff and can add stress to your hands and back.  Klocke Farms employees were wearing down after starting a new program that required ear tagging, so Dave got to work. With help, he invented the PigEasy ID Cart. The PigEasy ID Cart is a foot operated double tagger that also serves as a holding cart for the litter. The PigEasy ID Cart also comes with a tagging sheet to organize your tags.  I can’t even come close to being able to describe how cool this cart is.  Check out this video to watch how quickly the team can tag pigs accurately and with much less effort.  We’ll have one of these at the show as well, so you can test it out for yourself at the PigEasy Booth (#V729).

We’re looking forward to another wonderful year at the World Pork Expo June 7-9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds!

See you then!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Strengthening your Weakest Link

"You’re only as strong as your weakest player."

We’ve heard this line from our coaches throughout our childhood.  Maybe you were the star athlete who mentored teammates that could use some improvement after you heard these words of wisdom. Or maybe you were the kid who immediately thought, “Crap! Is that me?” (guilty!) and spent the rest of the season paranoid you’re bringing down the team.

Regardless of where you were on the spectrum, this statement carries much truth.  If you have a weak center fielder, experienced players at bat are going to try to hit it to them EVERY TIME.

The prime intention for signing kids up for sports isn’t to create star athletes who go on to make millions in the big leagues. Our kids are part of the team to learn invaluable life lessons about working together toward a common goal.

As sow farm operators, our common goal is to keep sows healthy and productive throughout their life so they farrow healthy and productive pigs for market. I would say we’re succeeding as an industry with increased numbers of pigs out the door every year.

All too often though, our focus on the number of pigs out the door overpowers our focus on sow longevity. This can be a costly mistake.

Regardless of farm size, if you had the ability to change the outcome of just a handful of young sows each week in farrowing or pre breed, the affects could very well transform your herd.  

The “weakest” sows, typically lower parity sows that lose condition in farrowing, often get moved back to breeding with the idea that she will regain condition over the course of gestation. Unfortunately, studies indicate otherwise.  

“Anil et al., (2006) reported that sows consuming ≤ 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) of feed per day during the first two weeks of lactation were more likely to be removed from the herd before their next parity. The odds of removal were highest for sows that did not consume any feed during any single day for the first 14 days of lactation. The bottom line from this study is “if the sows don’t eat in lactation, they are going to leave the farm.”” - Managingsows for optimum retention by Zach Rambo, Dr. Jerry Torrison, Mark E. Wilson

If there was a solution that could change the outcome of five lower parity sows a turn in addition to raising the bar on the high performing sows, how much would you save a year in replacement costs? Five sows doesn’t sound like much, but similar to compound interest, the returns keep building. Let’s say you made a change that resulted in saving 5 P1s and P2s each turn of a group. If you’re weaning a group each week, five sows saved per group turn would equal out to around 260 productive younger sows remaining in the herd each year. That’s 260 less replacement gilts to purchase and acclimate to the farm, not to mention 260 better performing animals taking up space.

We learned these effects are long term at Klocke Farms. By focusing on ad lib feeding at key points in a sow’s reproductive cycle (prebreed and in lactation), sows choose to consume their daily ration at their own time throughout the day instead of when we decide. By giving sows the choice, limited intake days are avoided and sows stay in great condition and remain productive in the herd.

Initially, we observed a huge jump in Total Born with P1 gilts and over time lowered our replacement rate because our Pigs per Sow Lifetime continues to increase. Saving those bottom tier sows changed the entire makeup of our sow herd. Not only do we get more out of each gilt investment, but the herd is healthier and much more uniform overall.

Just like our coaches drilled into us when we were kids, the weak players on a team affect the team’s overall success more than we all think and by bringing that lower tier up, it boosts the team up all around. I guess we can chalk another one up for our childhood coaches!

Until Next Time,