Friday, February 24, 2017

Conquering the Pain of a Production Migraine

I started getting migraines in middle school. 

I left most softball games with a bad migraine
from getting overheated.
Mine had typical triggers, but as a 12 year old I barely understood what migraines are, much less able to figure out why they were happening.  By the end of high school, I was getting 3-4 a week and only my mom was able to notice. I’d walk in the room, she’d look at me and say, “You have a migraine?”


I was so used to the throbbing pain and nausea that I could function like a normal human being and while people knew I suffered from migraines, no one realized the extent of it.

As I matured, I learned some of what set them off and tricks to lessen the blow, but they were still there.

This little guy was a blessing in more ways than one.
It wasn’t until I was in the second trimester of pregnancy with my son that it clicked one day; I hadn’t had a migraine in over a month. I haven’t gone that long since I was a little girl! Today, migraines have become few and far between in my world, which is a good thing, but it has also been eye-opening.

Now when I get a migraine, they are KILLER. I need a dark room, an ice pack, and some time to get over it. Is it that these migraines are worse than before? Has my pain tolerance gone down?  I don’t think so.

I believe I was so used to being in semi-constant pain that it was a continuous reality of mine and I just lived with it. Because what was the alternative?

How often do we have “migraines” in our lives that we just live with? They are constant, throbbing problems that bring huge hiccups to our business and its success, but 1) we can’t find the trigger, and 2) even if we found the trigger, a solution isn’t readily available.

Feeding sows was a migraine for my dad. We knew how important optimal feed intake was, but we couldn’t get it right. We set the boxes too high, there was too much feed waste; we set the boxes too low, production suffered.

We hear about it a lot with other producers. Everyone knows it’s a problem. Each farm does what it has to do to get feed into these animals, but at what cost? The cost might be pretty clear, as in excess feed waste. That is something you can clearly see and quantify. OR the cost might be considered gray area, where your crew is having to spend time hand feeding sows when they should really be focusing on XX and YY tasks. Quantifying those added costs can be difficult. But, you do what you have to do to get through it. What is the alternative?
MealMeter with pre-breed gilts

We’re passionate about feeding sows for a number of reasons, but I think the unbridled excitement comes from the sow production “migraine” we found a solution for without adding a bunch of management to the workforce and outlandish costs per crate.

The MealMeter feed dispenser became a huge game changer not just on our farm, but for customers.  We recently caught up with a customer who said, “How else could we get this intake in these sows?”

We know what it’s like to live with production migraines because our roots are in sow production, right along with you. There’s nothing more frustrating than a migraine where you know the trigger, but you can’t do anything about it.

With the MealMeter, you can do something. There is an alternative to living with this production migraine, and it’s PigEasy.

Until Next Time,


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Striving to Find the Better Way

“There’s a way to do it better – find it.”
– Thomas Edison

While innovation never quits at PigEasy, it can certainly ebb and flow.  Sometimes great ideas get stuck in Dad’s noggin for quite a while before he begins messing around in the shop creating the first proto-type. Even then, parts and pieces to the "next big thing" have been known to collect dust waiting to prove their worth.

Who can blame the guy? We’ve been busy.

Traveling all around the Midwest has us thinking we wished we would have tracked all the back roads we’ve zoomed through driven the appropriate speed on back when we started promoting the MealMeter almost four years ago. We aren’t sure if they really look familiar or the landscape is just beautiful everywhere we travel.

For instance, we were up in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few weeks ago for the Prairie Livestock Expo. We thought we knew cold weather here in Iowa…that is until we visited our Canadian neighbors. WOW! That’s a whole new level of freezing cold. Not counting a little run-in with black ice and a median on the way home, the trip was all positive. Everyone at the Expo was exceptionally friendly and we look forward to heading back there again (preferably when it’s warmer).

Our time back in Iowa has been spent developing new products as well as creating different options of our tried and true ones.

Chuck-It Bucket XL

We’ve had some customers request larger Chuck-It Buckets. Our regular Chuck-It Bucket size is great for a typical 3000 head sow farm with a regular loader bucket size, but could be small for larger operations. The Chuck-It Bucket XL is the answer for your larger farm with a 3,000lb and 48 cu. ft. holding capacity.

New MealMeter Applications

We often hear positive feedback on the MealMeter feed dispenser and have found other areas in a farm that benefit from maximizing feed intake while eliminating feed waste, such as a sick pen or boar pen. Customers have been happy with the amount of feed saved, in addition to eliminating the need for another watering pan.

More applications for the MealMeter are in store for 2017 – unfortunately, we’re not at a point where we can disclose all of them, so we’re going to have to leave you hanging in suspense!

Feedback Cart

Another item that has been working on our farm for years is a feedback or back-feeding cart. Ours is an easy tool (go figure!). To use, simply open the valve and walk down the aisle at a pace that gives you the recommended dosage. This is a superior solution in many ways. 1) There’s no heavy lifting or bending involved, and 2) feedback dosage is uniform. You know that the first sow in the row is getting the same amount as the last sow in the row. A 5 gallon bucket just can’t compete.

The PigEasy feedback cart is so new, it’s not even on our website or brochures yet. Call (888) 354-0112 for more details.

ISU Ventilation Project

The most exciting news I have is one I can tell you the least about. What I can disclose, though, is that PigEasy is working with Iowa State University on a preliminary trial to improve pit ventilation with one of Dad’s patented inventions. This idea pre-dates even the MealMeter. Dad was beginning to see all the benefits of this ventilation proto-type right around the time the MealMeter was taking off and requiring more attention.
With the original proto-type in for over 5 years and what we’ve seen with improvements to air quality and pit foaming issues, we have high hopes for the trial’s results and simply cannot wait to get this solution out to producers!

Upcoming Trade Shows

We will be showcasing a lot of the stuff discussed up above at the winter pork shows in January/February. Make sure to check out our booth location at the Expo you’re attending and stop by. We’d love to catch up with you!

South Dakota Pork Congress
Wednesday & Thursday, January 11-12, 2017
Sioux Falls, SD
Booth #112

Minnesota Pork Congress
Tuesday & Wednesday, January 17-18, 2017
Minneapolis, MN
Booth #641

Iowa Pork Congress
Wednesday & Thursday, January 25-26, 2017
Des Moines, IA
Booth #114

Missouri Pork Expo
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Columbia, MO

We hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and wish you all the best in 2017!

Until next time,