Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?! - Charlie Brown

Linus:  Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?

And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.  Luke 2:8-14

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.


Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year!

- The PigEasy & Klocke Family


Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Feature: Ben & Mitch

This summer, Klocke Farms and PigEasy were fortunate to add a couple members to the team. Their involvement with PigEasy varies, but as with everyone else in our operation, they are a part of just about everything.  

Welcome to PigEasy and Klocke Farms, Ben and Mitch!

Ben Klocke and Mitch Tiefenthaler began working for Klocke Farms and PigEasy this summer.


No, this is not my brother Ben that I’m talking about here, and yes, there have been some confusing moments.

Ben Klocke (the other Ben Klocke in Carroll County!) started working with Klocke Farms in July.

We knew early on that one of the Bens would need a nickname. After much deliberation, Ben Klocke (new Ben Klocke) accepted the nickname of “FJ”. Can anyone guess what “FJ” stands for? Let’s have an informal contest; the first one who figures it out and comments below gets a free t-shirt! (Karen says keep it clean!)

Ben’s main focus is Klocke Farms’ day to day tasks, but does help with PigEasy production.


Mitch joined the team in August and hit the ground running getting up to speed with PigEasy operations and products in addition to taking part in Klocke Farms.  While Mitch has spent a lot of his first few months in a tractor helping with harvest, he has taken on the role of PigEasy inventory, order management and shipping. 

Post-harvest, Mitch’s main focus will be PigEasy; we look forward to streamlining our system with Mitch’s help!

Now that we are finished with harvest, we often look back and wonder how the heck we did it all without these guys.

Have a great weekend,


Monday, October 5, 2015

Pigs per Sow Lifetime

What is it and why is it so important?

MealMeter feed dispenser
When we set out to develop the MealMeter, we were focused on two main benefits; to increase production while decreasing feed waste. Now that we have had the MealMeter in front of pre breed gilts, weaned and under conditioned sows, and lactating sows for a few years on our sow farm, we are noticing many side benefits that are just as important, which are increased pigs per sow lifetime and reduced early culling.

Let’s focus on pigs per sow lifetime. In a recent NationalHog Farmer article, Ron Ketchum and Mark Rix from Swine Management Services explained this calculation as (pigs weaned lifetime from females culled, died and euthanized) divided by (females culled plus females died plus females euthanized).

This is an important number, arguably more important than PSY, because it is a better look at the overall ROI of each sow. A sow as an economic unit does not reach profitability until after parity three. Also, pigs from multi-parity sows have higher wean weights and perform better in the grow/finish sector.

Pork Network published an article a month ago called “How the U.S. pork industry can make an additional $250 million” that discusses the benefits of focusing on sow longevity.

“If each sow in the U.S. produced one more litter in her lifetime, the U.S. swine industry would generate another $250 million of net value for the pork industry,” says Jon Bergstrom, Ph.D., senior technical support manager for DSM Nutritional Products.

So what does this have to do with the MealMeter?

By ad lib feeding at critical times in a sow’s reproductive cycle, over time we have been able to greatly increase our pigs per sow lifetime, reduce early culling, and therefore reduce our replacement rate in addition to many other benefits.

The image below displays those critical times in orange.  When pre breed gilts and sows are able to efficiently consume their rations to maintain condition, they will in turn perform better in subsequent parities and remain in the herd much longer.

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

When developing the MealMeter, we noticed that gilts would adapt quickly and limited intake days were avoided. This turned into higher P1 performance, which then led us to putting it in front of the weaned and under conditioned sows, along with lactating sows. These immediate benefits were apparent, along with better feed efficiency and less feed waste.

Over the long term, we began to see much less fallout from our herd. Sows who started off on the MealMeter continued to perform well and we were able to reduce involuntary culling of younger, low parity sows with performance issues from lack of consistent feed intake.

Overall, using the MealMeter has made a lasting impact in our operation.

But let’s talk numbers.

The year before implementing the MealMeter, our farm’s average pigs per sow lifetime was 45, which was a pretty reasonable number to us at the time. So far in 2015, our average pigs per sow lifetime has shot up to 58 and we are seeing the numbers continue to trend upward.  The return on investment is far reaching as higher lifetime production mean our sows are staying in the herd longer. This increases profitability while producing heavier, healthier pigs.

Until next time,


For more information on the MealMeter, you can visit the PigEasy website,

If you’d like to talk to us about its benefits on our sow farm and how we can help you get started with the MealMeter, please call 888-354-0112.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The "Special Sauce" to Feeding in Lactation

PigEasy Feeder Set Up

Veterinarians, nutritionists and consultants have been promoting ad lib feeding sows in lactation for years due to its many short and long term benefits. Overall, ad lib feeding removes the human element of feed intake, thus giving each sow the ability to choose how much feed she wants to consume throughout the day while greatly cutting down on feed waste.

Common concerns we hear from producers are “Well, we use Brand X of ad lib feeders and all she does is play with it” or “Even though Brand Y Feeder has increased feed consumption, you’ll still see a layer of feed at the bottom of the trough that can build up if staff doesn’t clean it out in the morning.” Basically, feed build up continues to be an issue with certain sows, which will either eat up your time cleaning out feeders or will inhibit future consumption if the feed becomes stale or rotten.

To combat this, the industry developed certain ad lib feeders to be wet/dry, but they came with their own set of issues. Producers have commented on a lot of plugging problems with messes or a bowl full of water from a leaky nipple or the sow over watering herself. Basically, they became a mess.

So what is a producer to do?

In the past, producers chose a lesser of two evils and simply dealt with the negatives.  This is a step in the right direction as we all know how important it is to give her as much feed as possible in lactation.

But what if you could get each sow to the next level WITHOUT having to clean bowl after bowl every day?

It took years of observation and a lot of trials, but Dave came up with the right ingredients to give the sow the power to consume while at the same time training her not to waste.

PigEasy’s not-so-secret ingredients to successful feeding is all about the type of water bracket and nipple and its placement, cutting or drilling a weep hole, and the type of feed bowl.

PigEasy Water Bracket
First, the water bracket needs to be a simple straight pipe with a wet/dry nipple, although we recommend a button nipple. The PigEasy Lactation Water Bracket is a straight stainless steel pipe with two adjustable brackets on the back side.

Adjustable Brackets
Now, the placement – we like to position the water bracket close to the bottom of the feeder for a few reasons. First, its low position works so that the sow physically isn’t able overfill with water as her snout would be completely submerged. This avoids excess water in the bowl that would be difficult to eat out of and also may plug up the feeder. Because she isn’t able to over water, she is simultaneously cleaning her bowl every time she takes a drink (So you don’t have to later!).

Low position of water bracket in
a retrofitted lactation feeder.
The second part of the not-so-secret weapon is the weep hole. Much like in your bathtub or sink, the weep hole installed in a feed bowl relieves any overflow. Therefore, if you have a leaky nipple that goes unnoticed, any water overflow leaves the feeder via the weep hole so your sow will never be without access to feed. We cut/drill the weep hole very low (1/2 to 3/4in off the bottom of the bowl) so water level will never be too high for feed access.

Last, but certainly not least, is the PigEasy feeder design. This lactation feeder eliminates corners and focuses her eating area so buildup can’t occur. At Klocke Farms, the staff estimates they clean out 0-1% of PigEasy feeders every day. So, out of 432 sow feeders, that equals approximately 1-4 bowls. TOTAL. (While the PigEasy feeder maximizes feed intake, you are able to retrofit your current feeder for similar results. Call PigEasy for details.)

With these small changes, you give each sow the power without dealing with the waste, and that is a huge difference. But don’t jump in blindly; try it out and see the benefits yourself.  

For any questions on how to maximize feed intake at critical points in a sow’s reproductive cycle, call PigEasy at (888) 354-0112.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

World Pork Expo Reflections

The PigEasy Booth was located on the southwest wall
of the Varied Industries Building.

As you saw in Katie’s prior blog post, the World Pork Expo has been a family interest for years.  I now have a different perspective on the other side of the booth.

Beyond the planning and organizing prior to, the “move in” day becomes a group effort.

One of my favorite moments was watching this man with his young boy work together in preparing his booth.  First the young boy was directing his Dad in parking his trailer.  Then they both made trips carrying and pulling in various items for their booth (and the young boy had such a serious task-driven look on his face).  The next time I saw them, they were laughing and high fiving each other.  Each moment brought back memories of our kids working with us.  Made my heart swell.

So on the other side of the booth, you realize what it takes to be a vendor. For PigEasy, third time was a charm.  With the debut of our PigEasy products, the first couple of years the attendees were like buying a car –“kicking the tires and looking it over”.  This year, it was exciting to talk to those that have used our products and to people with a real intent.

We couldn't do it without our leadership!
It is great to see familiar faces and spend time with them – vendors and attendees.  The food was excellent, the weather turned out great, and the attendance was a constant buzz of people.  I was in a mother’s dream – all four kids were able to attend; one spouse (the other was out of state dutifully serving our country), my brother and sister-in-law, our PigEasy Board members and spouses, and employees.

As we pulled away from the four days of the Expo 2015, it made me wonder – will that young son join his Dad in his business like Ben and Katie did with us. Makes my heart swell!

- Karen

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

These Little Piggies are heading to the World Pork Expo...

The 2015 World Pork Expo is exactly one week away and we couldn't be more excited.

In our younger years, we would love to tag along with Dad to sneak treats (everyone remember the flavored slushies in the semen bags at the ZFI booth??) and eat as much barbecued pork as our stomachs would allow. Oh, and I suppose we would learn about all the new products and technologies while Dad stopped by his favorite booths to talk to old friends.

Since we morphed from attendee to exhibitor a few years ago, some of our focus has changed, but most stayed the same.

We look forward to catching up with old friends, but now it's usually moved to our own booth (#729). And I still like to eat as much barbecued pork as humanly possible, but it's now a quick stop before I get back in the Varied Industries Building to spread the word on PigEasy  innovations. The one thing that will never change is the World Pork Expo is a family event. 

And while I do miss being able to leisurely wander through the aisles on the day we'd attend, it is a captivating experience to meet so many people in a mere three days that are as enthusiastic about pork production as we are.

This year we are featuring the redesigned MealMeter. As Dad continues to observe and innovate, he also improves our current products. The updated MealMeter nose piece design funnels the feed flow and increases durability.  

In addition to the MealMeter itself, we have a freshly designed farrowing crate that is made of stainless steel where you need it and mild steel in the areas where wear isn't an issue in order to keep it reasonably priced.

The Chuck-It Bucket holding/disposal tank will be displayed at the QC Supply booth (#V489). 

We have a lot to look forward to next week, barbecued pork included, and we can't wait to visit with pork producers from around the world!

- Katie

Monday, May 11, 2015

Optimizing Intake in Lactation

Many pork producers have acknowledged the importance of ad lib feeding in lactation for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, lactation puts huge caloric demand on a sow as they are feeding larger litters.  If we are not giving her access to full feed, there is a chance she will lose condition, which will raise the likelihood of that sow being culled exponentially as she turns from a productive sow to an under conditioned sow.  When a sow loses condition, studies have shown that it has a negative effect on her subsequent litter.

Next, if a pork producer is still hand feeding their sows, they will run into a timing issue.  A sow is not going to stand up and eat when her litter is nursing and a producer isn’t available at all hours of the day to wait until she’s ready to eat.  In this particular scenario, how much intake is that producer missing out on by only feeding a few times a day? On the flip side, a producer may overcompensate by filling her feeder, but they run the risk of wasting a lot of feed if she doesn’t consume it. This is where hand feeding becomes a catch-22.

Lastly, how much is hand feeding costing your operation in labor?  Instead of time spent feeding an even better question would be what could you or your employees be able to focus on if you didn’t have to spend time hand feeding each sow multiple times a day?

In this video, Dr. Paul Armbrecht from Lake City Veterinary Clinic talks about the benefits of ad lib feeding in lactation:

What makes the MealMeter system stand out from other ad lib feeders on the market?

The MealMeter system offers many unique features for feeding today’s prolific sow.  The PigEasy lactation feeder has a one of a kind design that focuses her eating area, which prevents feed build up and maximizes intake.  The PigEasy feeder also features an adjustable waterer. As this is her ONLY source of water, not only will she completely clean her bowl up every time she takes a drink, but she won’t be able to spray herself and her pigs in the summertime. The feeder also has a weep hole near the bottom of each feeder so excess water will not inhibit her feed intake even if a nipple should become leaky.

The MealMeter itself has many attractive features, as it needs NO adjustment, is easily removed and is made to last for years.

So let’s say...

... you are ready to take the plunge into an ad lib feeder, but your current stainless steel feeders are still in great condition. 

While you won’t have the exclusive qualities of the PigEasy Lactation Feeder, you can still have great success in ad lib feeding by converting your existing bowl to the PigEasy set up.

This would include installing the adjustable watering bracket and the MealMeter with Lactation boot in your current feeder. What’s even better is we have made it (pig)Easy with templates and a short video tutorial.

Watch Clint explain the most efficient way to convert your bowl to the PigEasy system.

We are pork producers ourselves and understand the difficulties a change like this entails. This is why we designed each product to be installed many different ways on virtually any equipment.

If you have any questions, we would love to help! You can reach us at 888-354-0112 or

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I’m celebrating Earth Day

I think Earth Day in the past has left a bad taste in most farmers’ mouths because activists tend to use this day as a platform and a launch pad for their attacks on innovation and progress in the Ag industry. I can’t blame farmers in some ways.  Animal and anti-GMO activists are like that annoying mosquito who would rather be flattened with a belly full of your blood, than to have the sense to get what they need, leave a mark and move on to their next victim. See the latest on HSUS herehere and here.

So on a day when a farmer should truly be celebrated, they get eaten alive by people who have zero experience cultivating the land or raising livestock.  That can leave quite a lasting mark on someone who is typically very proud of their livelihood.

A beautiful evening during the 2014 planting season.
Even so, today is a day that is supposed to celebrate all of the resources we have the responsibility to care for, and I am proud to say that my family is a part of an industry and a population that is achieving the highest production in human history on less land all the while leaving a smaller footprint on the environment, nurturing our resources for the next generation and keeping our animals as comfortable and content as possible.

Very few professions are as in tune with and care as much for our earth as farmers do.  They wouldn’t be in the business or successful at it if they didn’t.  And with the vast majority of farms being family operated, farmers want to pass their heritage and livelihood down to the next generation in better shape than how they received it.

You can’t improve without innovation and progress.  And sometime change like that can be scary.  I’ve always been of the mindset that it’s good to question as it means your mind is working and you are thinking for yourself.  The only thing I ask of you is to look closely at your source of information, carefully discern what is news and what is opinion and talk to an expert before making up your mind.

I'm looking forward to Bobcat rides around
our waterways again this summer!
As for me and my family, it’s a treat to be a part of this innovation and progress.  We are thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on us and we take seriously our responsibility to leave the Earth in better shape for the next generation.  Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Until next time,


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PVC Glue on Stainless Steel Nuts & Bolts

You can find PVC Glue at your local plumbing or
hardware store. 

Tuesday's Trick of the Trade

You may have noticed our Tricks of the Trade so far have focused on stainless steel and how to overcome the issues that arise when using the material.  While it’s not a producer’s goal to torment themselves and their help, the benefits of stainless steel certainly outweigh its headaches.

Today we're talking nuts and bolts... literally. We've all been in a situation where you are tightening or removing a stainless steel nut to/from a stainless steel bolt and even though they are both new, they seize together before you get anywhere, especially when using an impact wrench.

Here's a trick I’ve learned years back to prevent stainless steel threaded nuts and bolts from seizing.

PVC Glue (Cement)

Prior to threading on a stainless steel nut, apply a small amount of PVC glue to the first half of the threads with the brush.

Fasten the nut and go!

The glue helps lubricate, keeps the material cool and reduces friction, which prevents the nut from seizing onto the stud/bolt.

PVC Glue also works when you are trying to unfasten a previous stainless steel nut and bolt.  Apply the glue to the rest of the threads before removal.

Nut and bolt stayed cool to the touch and removed
easily with the PVC Glue.

Since Katie didn't believe me, I fastened and unfastened another bolt without the glue and the nut got hot and seized up on me before I could get it off.  A brother's favorite victory is proving his sister wrong!

Without the glue, the nut seized onto the bolt
and was hot to the touch.

We have used this on many projects and this is our go to when using stainless on stainless fasteners.

Have a great day,

- Ben

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pipe Thread Sealant vs. Teflon Tape

Tuesday's Trick of the Trade

Stainless steel is a great thing. It doesn’t rust and is very sturdy; two material qualities that are important when working with hogs.

Where stainless can go wrong is during threading.  Whenever we are at a show and mention a nipple seizing up on a stainless steel fitting, every producer winces because they themselves have been out in a G barn trying to unplug a nipple and nothing short of cutting it off will fix it.

This is one of the reasons we developed the SnoutSpout nipple bracket. It is made of glass filled polypropylene, a fiber infused plastic that is extremely sturdy yet cuts like wood.  Now for the best part; the stainless steel nipples won’t seize up on you!

The next question we typically get is whether or not to use Teflon tape to seal the nipple to the bracket.

A plumber friend of mine recently cleared up a minor misconception of threading.

Teflon Tape or Pipe Thread Sealant

The purpose of Teflon Tape is not to seal threads, rather it is to stop the two fittings from seizing together.  It may help with sealing, but that is not its main purpose.  If you are going to use a stainless steel nipple with a stainless steel fitting, the best product to use would be Teflon Tape alone or in combination with some pipe thread sealant.

Pipe Thread Sealant, though, is made to fill in the possible imperfections of threads of a male or female fitting to stop leakage around them.  This is what we suggest you use with the SnoutSpout, as there’s no concern of the nipple seizing inside its female threads. 

Now we have a trick for applying Pipe Thread Sealant.  Instead of applying directly to the male threads of the nipple, we found it’s advantageous to apply the sealant around the first few thread grooves of the female fitting (SnoutSpout). As you turn to insert the nipple, the sealant spreads around on the inside, instead of being pushed to the outside, as it can be when applying directly to the male threaded nipple.
Ben likes to add that if you are in a jam in the barn, latex hog marking chalk is a good substitute for pipe thread sealant.

What is a trick you use to seal your fittings?

                                 -   Dave

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Kitchen Table

Friday Feature:

The HUB of our house has always been the kitchen table.  When outstretched to capacity, it is a 113 inch massive Farm Table

It started as a place for candlelit dinners when we were first married, a place to gather with friends for coffee, the little artist’s workbench for different crafts, the laundry folding table, the homework station for the young ones, the central place for prayer, the base for pictures of family celebrations.

A typical look at our "desk" set up.
The kitchen table has always been my place to do bookwork -  a convenient way to multi-task – keep an eye on the kids, watch the cookies in the oven and listen for the drier bell to go off.  Not to mention, you can spread your work out easily.  With the start of PigEasy, the Kitchen Table has become a hot commodity. 

You usually think of everyone having their “seat” at the table ready to eat.  Now Katie and I have our “seat” at the table for business.  It is a good location for Dave to pop in to answer questions and Ben to pick up order sheets.  We have gathered around the table to have product naming contests, have prepped some of our products for production, and yes, we still eat at our table. Preparing for lunch includes shoving the piles to the other end.

It is with some excitement that we will be moving the PigEasy office to a new location in town.  It is very exciting to have less clutter and less distraction – but I am going to miss the activity around the kitchen table. 

We are used to having a “mobile office”.  It may be a meeting in the shop, brainstorming on the long drives, or the “feet up for 10” in the living room.  We now have an “official office” in our future, but I have a feeling the HOME BASE of the KITCHEN TABLE will still be an active location for PigEasy developments.  And if any encouragement is needed, the cookies fresh out of the oven always seem to work.

Post-brunch product naming contest.

- Karen

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Improve your Gilts, Improve your Herd

Dave’s awakening occurred a few years ago at a regional boot camp offered by his genetics company.  There, the presenter discussed the importance of gilt development.  He said gilts are significant because the size of their first litter can define their lifetime litter size, yet gilts represent quite a challenge in many ways.

First, gilts need to be of ideal age, weight and condition when bred to achieve optimal performance.  In order to accomplish this, feed intake must be maximized.

However, gilts experience a lot of changes prior to breeding as they are moved from an isolation barn to a breeding barn.  It often takes gilts a week to get back to full feed after being moved, which is a week of limited intake days.

No producer wants to limit feed their gilts.  But the conundrum turns into either the producer wastes feed attempting to maximize feed intake or they set the boxes back to save feed, which essentially limits the gilt until they are “used to their new surroundings.”

After the presentation, Dave spent a lot of time watching.  He would observe gilts entering the crate and would watch as they consumed (or didn’t consume) their feed in the mornings and afternoons.  In the evenings, he would venture back over to the gestation barn to watch the gilts and see if activity was any different. 

Dave observed gilts aren’t stressed over the crate.  They seemed to respond well to their individual maternity pen.  However, he did notice the gilts would get up at various times ready to eat, but the feed would be washed down the trough from the watering system or was no longer fresh as they would prefer it.

Then it came to Dave; the isolation barns and breeding barns have very different feeding systems.  Isolation barns or finishing barns have self-feeders, which allow young gilts to eat small amounts through the day.  Individual maternity pens drop large amounts of feed into a trough one to two times a day and the gilt is expected to consume it in a certain amount of time before water washes it away or it becomes stale.   As Dave puts it, “We’re expecting our gilts to eat like sows.”

MealMeter prototypes Dave tried out in his breed row.
The wheels began to turn and prototypes were created.  After coming up with a working design, Dave put what is now called the MealMeter in front of his entire gilt row.  His theory proved correct.  Instead of taking days to get back to full feed, gilts quickly consumed their ration when they could decide when they wanted to eat.  He was on to something.

His production numbers told the same story.  Before, he was in the bottom half of his contemporary group for P1 production, even with a solid breeding team whose conception rates are excellent.  Six months of using the MealMeter shot his numbers up to one of the top in P1 total born.  There were no other changes to breeding and management. 

Dave's 6 month averages before and after installing the MealMeter.

What is so exciting is P1 total born rate is just one benefit to consider.  Aside from obvious feed savings, think about what starting gilts off well can do for the entire herd.  For instance, Dave significantly reduced his replacement rate because now that his gilts begin well, they stay in the herd much longer.

Ron Ketchem and Mark Rix from Swine Management Services, LLC wrote in the recent article ‘Does gilt performance dictate farm success’ that not only does the farrowing rate of gilts correlate to the farrowing rate for the whole farm, but also in the amount of repeats, total born, and wean to 1st service intervals. “(Top farms) have figured out that gilts drive the farm now and in the future.  Most have invested in good genetics, have gilt-developing facilities on the farm or close by and have added labor to take care of the gilts from entry to breeding.”

Yes, gilts take more management and attention, but if you start them off right, the benefits are far reaching.

Listen to Dave tell the story here:

Until next time,


Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Feature: Clint, Aaron & Al

While I’m laying here on the couch recovering from recent back surgery, I thought I’d write a little something about a few people who are very important to PigEasy’s success.


Clint is one of our most seasoned employees.
Clint is a Templeton native who began working with Klocke Farms part time when he was a teenager.  Clint came on board full time after high school and is vital to both Klocke Farms and PigEasy.

With his ability and experience, Clint’s input with PigEasy manufacturing and our products has been essential.  He treats the business as his own and ensures that each job is a job well done.  In addition to PigEasy and general farm work, Clint is our construction man and he also keeps the shop and equipment organized and clean, which is not an easy task when working with us Klockes!


Aaron began working for PigEasy and Klocke Farms last August and is quickly coming up to speed on the farm and PigEasy product line.  He handles a lot of the manufacturing and packaging for PigEasy.  Aaron also helps on other various jobs with Klocke Farms.  He is very eager to learn how and why we do what we do to understand our process better.  We’re lucky to have someone with that much enthusiasm.

You can find Al and Aaron working hard in the Klocke Farms and PigEasy shops.


Al began working with Klocke Farms part time a handful of years ago. He helps with loading pigs and does the daily chores in the finishing barn and helps with loading out. He also assists with various tasks on the farm and is willing to step in and help when needed.  His years of previous experience at the local co-op have helped in many situations on the farm and we value his input.

I once heard that the key to success and happiness is to surround yourself with the right people and I believe we have done just that.

Have a great weekend!

-   Ben

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Role Does Nutritional Intake Play in Reproductive Performance?

Studies Show Avoiding Limited Intake Days (LID) Has Positive Impact
**** This article was included in a mailer last fall and confirms the importance of feed intake at key moments in a sow's reproductive cycle. That message is worth repeating!

Today’s research has brought advancements in genetics that have resulted in stronger animals able to produce and sustain larger litters. However, feed delivery practices have not kept pace with these genetics. Too often, sows and gilts are not getting the proper amount of nutrition when needed. These Low Intake Days (LID) negatively impact the overall condition of the animal and create operational losses through reductions in sow productivity, longevity and feed waste.

On-site trials that have provided ad-lib feeding for newly introduced gilts and sows, pre breed and in lactation, revealed a significant link between the daily nutritional needs of the animals and what is lacking in current feeding practices.

“A sow that produces 50 pigs in a lifetime versus 30 has a huge advantage for being able to have a reduced cost of each pig going out the door,” said Dr. Paul Armbrecht, a veterinarian from Lake City, Iowa with over 40-years swine experience. “Allowing these animals to determine when they feed has been proven to increase Parity 1 performance, reduce the replacement rate, bring gilts back to full feed on day one, get sows back into metabolic mode and recovering faster after farrowing; thus being able to produce more litters over their lifetime.”
Dave Klocke, owner/operator of Klocke Farms, Inc., and founder of PigEasy, LLC, believes the industry is shifting toward this long-term look at the productivity of the animal over their entire lifetime. Currently, pigs per sow per year is the measure for performance of the entire herd. The reality is, according to Klocke, that a better benchmark is pigs per sow per lifetime.

“Pigs per sow per year is not necessarily the most profitable, Klocke explained. “This individual animal is an investment, and because of LID, there are a lot of young females who do not get beyond P1 or P2 because they don’t consume enough feed at critical periods in their reproductive cycle. The sow doesn’t perform well. It is not her fault, it is a failure of the system to feed her properly by giving her all the feed she needs at the right time to achieve her genetic potential.”

Almost every producer, even the most experienced, knows that providing optimal feed intake is an issue, and until now, it has simply been treated as a matter of course. To address this, Klocke, through PigEasy, has designed and created the MealMeter feeding device. The MealMeter allows the animal to have access to feed on demand. He has put the MealMeter into his sow farm, and has seen a dramatic change since implementation.

“Our sow farm is now pushing 60 pigs per sow per lifetime,” Klocke said. “Industry average is probably under 40. Prior to utilizing the MealMeter, we achieved 50, and I was happy with that. Sixty pigs per sow per lifetime is not something we are driving for, it is just happening with a reduction in LIDs.”
The above Klocke Farm records compare  6 months of conventional drop feeding to P1 pre-breed gilts vs. 6 months using the  MealMeter feeding device. There were no other changes to the gilts' diet or management.
With the use of the MealMeter, Klocke begins ad-lib feeding with the introduction of the gilt to the operation pre breed and continues it with lactating sows, weaned sows and passed or late weaned sows. “When gilts are moved into a sow operation for breeding/ production, the general thought is that the gilts go off feed because they are getting used to the individual maternity pen,” he noted. “What I have found, is these animals are used to eating in a finisher setting, where they consume smaller amounts ad-lib throughout the day. When we put them in individual maternity pens, they don’t know how to eat in a setting where they are dropped feed once or twice a day and expected to consume it in a short period of time, before it becomes stale or the water washes their ration down the trough.” Likewise, in lactation, if the sow is not ready to eat when the ration drops, feed will build up and cause spoilage, thus creating more LIDs. According to a recent article on, by Dr. Jerry Torrison, Mark E. Wilson and Zach Rambo, what happens during the final stage of the reproductive process can have a major impact on sow retention. “Lactation is one of the most energetically expensive and challenging activities a female can undertake,” they wrote. “Therefore, feed consumption is critical during lactation. 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 sows don’t eat in lactation, they are going to leave the farm.’” The authors also reported that a reduction in LIDs resulted in reduced weight loss, increased weight gain for the litter and decreased likelihood of a prolonged wean to estrus interval by 42 percent for each kg of increase in the average daily feed intake. Ron Ketchem and Mark Rix of Swine Management Services in Fremont, Neb. point to ad-lib feeding as a necessity in a June article in National Hog Farmer. They answer the question, “What are the top 32 farms doing to be at 30+ pigs?” “In lactation, they know that nursing sows need to be able to eat all the feed they want as soon as they are done farrowing and also concentrate on feeding extra feed from weaning to breeding in order to improve body condition, farrowing rate and total pigs born in the next litter.” With retention, productive days per year and litter sizes being the most important factors to the overall economic success of a farrowing operation, more and more producers are learning how to optimize the genetic benefits of their animals. “There has been a lot of industry focus in recent decades on feed efficiency in the grow/finish sector,” Klocke said. “But, not a lot of time has been spent talking about feed efficiency on the sow farm. With feed being a major input cost, it requires our attention. The ability to use the MealMeter to allocate the feed where it is needed the most, without concern of waste, is going to be a major benefit in both sow reproductive performance and the overall economics of swine operations.”
For more information on the MealMeter feeding device and its accompanying products, visit

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Drilling through Stainless Steel

Tuesday's Trick of the Trade

Stainless steel is the material of choice for many purposes in a hog barn. What would hog production be without stainless steel? But then there comes a time when you need to repair or remodel the stainless steel equipment and your first thought is, “Well, I better buy a lot of bits.”

When you take up this nearly impossible task, the typical guy response to material resistance is to run the drill faster while pushing harder. You shift it up to the highest speed. (At Klocke Farms, the term would be “letting it rip, tater chip!”) Within seconds, the tip of your drill bit looks more like a branding iron, blazing red.  You mutter, “I’ll sharpen that up someday” as you place it in the drawer also known as the Drill Bit Graveyard.

A few years back someone gave me this tip. It has benefited me greatly and I’d like to pass it on to you.

PVC Cleaner

PVC Cleaner can be found at your local
hardware store or plumbing retailer.
DISCLAIMER*** PVC cleaner is flammable. You need to keep this in mind as a spark could cause a serious problem. I’ve never had any issues with it, but it is important to take note and be cautious.

1.  You need to start with a good quality drill bit. Top of the line is not a necessity, but now that you won’t be going through a bunch of them, you can spend more money on quality.

2.  Next, you need a little bit of patience. It does require stopping several times to reapply the PVC cleaner for every hole you drill, depending on the thickness of the steel.  I’m not sure why it works, but it seems to me that the cleaner keeps the bit cool to prevent the cutting edge from being burnt or damaged from overheating.

3.  Typically it is best to start with a center punch to make a point or divot to prevent the drill bit from walking on you.

4.  Dip your drill bit into the PVC cleaner and start drilling. Using your variable speed trigger while applying appropriate down pressure, vary the speed of your drill bit until you find the speed that gives you the best results. It is typically lower to mid speeds and not wide open. It will drill well for several seconds, but the cleaner will wear off, so you may have to dip it a couple times when drilling the hole.

I’ve found it better to stop drilling and dip your bit more often than not. It will keep your good bit cutting and working much longer and your sanity intact!

PVC cleaner on a drill bit will not make a bad bit work well. Once the bit is dull, into the graveyard it goes, so that’s why it’s important to start off with a good bit.

If you do this and dip often, you’ll be able keep that bit in use much longer.

While we haven't personally tested it out, our feeder manufacturer recently recommended Elmer's Glue as an option.  What trick do you have for drilling through stainless steel?

Hope this helps.

- Dave