Operating a finishing facility in today’s era of thin margins can be difficult without real-time information on finishing pig weight and performance, yet that’s how typical finishing barns were built and equipped prior to the development of automation technology, according to Nedap Livestock Management.
“A one-size-fits-all, traditional finishing barn does not lend itself to the efficiencies wanted and needed by today’s pig farmers,” said Jeff Morten, U.S. sales account manager at Nedap Livestock Management. “Automated sorting scales sort pigs according to performance and offer farmers a way to feed pigs based on individual weights. As a result, farmers see maximized feed efficiency and more consistent finished groups of pigs.”
In fact, research shows that automated pig sorting technology increased revenues by $7,000-10,000 per year per 1,000-head barn.
Nedap noted three benefits from this technology:
1. Reduce guessing and sorting losses, and improve delivery planning. Using individual electronic animal identification, Nedap said producers have the option to identify and monitor each pig individually with automated sorting scale technology, even in large groups. Through an application programming interface (API) connection, the individual weights can be retrieved online. Automated sorting scales weigh each pig and direct it to one of two feeding areas, where it receives the diet best suited to its weight. Diets can be customized based on daily growth data and farm goals and better meet packer specifications.
When a pig reaches market weight, the system automatically cuts it from the group by directing it to a delivery section.
Automated sorting eliminates estimating weights and manual sorting. Instead, continuous collection of growth data allows accurate forecasting of daily gains, allowing producers to plan deliveries and transport up to four weeks in advance.
According to Nedap, research conducted at Purdue University shows that when sorting accuracy errors occur, the sort loss was $2.50-4.55 per pig greater than with accurate sorting.
2. Save months of time, and make better use of the labor force. Automation also drastically reduced the time producers spend sorting, marking and loading market hogs.
The time savings can equate to months of time across a labor force and allow team members to better use their skills by eliminating repetitious tasks and enabling people to focus on animals that need their attention.
3. Find greater efficiency in many areas. In addition to greater labor and planning efficiency, automated sorting scales deliver efficiency by providing more meat produced per foot of available floor space (up to 99% effective use of floor space) and real-time data on activity, weight, growth and sorting results, available all day every day, to enable more informed decisions on individual animal and group management.
“It’s time to take control of your finishing program,” Morten said. “You can quit feeding and marketing to averages. Instead, invest in automation to increase the uniformity of your finishing groups and get them to market on time, every time.”