For nearly a century, Kent Corp. has been bringing the livestock industry research-proven animal nutrition products. The Kent Nutrition Group (KNG) Product Development Center (PDC), a nearly 800-acre farm in Muscatine County, Iowa, serves as the center of the company’s swine, beef, dairy and poultry nutrition studies for Kent and Blue Seal branded products.
In late July, KNG opened a new barn for swine nutrition research. The new swine unit has a unique, state-of-the-art feeding system and treatment-specific drinking water plumbing assembly, along with zone-targeted environmental controls, waste management containment and animal-friendly loadout handling capabilities, which together set the stage for the next generation of swine nutrition research for KNG.
The new swine barn is the brain child of KNG vice president of nutrition and product development Bruce Read, who began planning the facility a few years ago in a quest to find the latest technology that would help his team bring new products to U.S. pork producers.
“It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Kent Nutrition Group has constructed a new swine research facility,” Read said. “The new swine building is definitely worth the wait and is one of the most up-to-date research facilities in the country.”
The new barn features a futuristic-looking feeding system from Feed Logics — an intelligent feed delivery system that can offload precise amounts of a specific diet automatically to any feeder in any quantity. The system includes control software to help manage feed trials with Windows-based dashboards and generates reports that help users monitor pigs’ feeding behavior and gain insights in real time during the feed trial.
The PDC system includes two rooms with a total 1,000-head capacity of wean-to-finish pigs and has access to 16 different bin mixes. The automated, computerized delivery feeder uses radio-frequency identification readers to access the appropriate diet and then deliver the mix to the feeders in the appropriate pens.
“This feeding system allows me to access the barn at any time from any place to see what is being fed,” Read said. “Along with the vast research opportunities possible with these test feeding protocols, the computerized system also helps streamline our trial times and reduce labor needs. We are able to analyze and adjust trials more quickly — giving us added efficiency and flexibility.”
The unique four-line watering system provides Kent research scientists with the opportunity to test new hydration products as well. “This watering system allows us to test hydration products side by side with a flip of the controls,” Read said. “This research is not only valuable for our swine product development but also for our other Kent Corp. family of companies.”
The new facility additionally features multiple management systems to enhance worker efficiency, reduce potential errors and make information sharing easier. The company said it expects the Kent swine barn's nutrition research technology to lead to the next generation of nutrition breakthroughs.
KNG is a division of Kent Corp., a family-owned company founded in 1927. KNG was formed to bring out the best in two successful regional feed brands: Kent in the Midwest and Blue Seal in the East.