Pig out until the software says when
By Lilian Schaer
Special from Farm & Food Care
BROCKVILLE A local company has developed a leading-edge electronic sow feeding system that its now selling across Canada and it took just a little over a year to get from concept to market.
Curtiss Littlejohn, Swine Products Manager with Canarm, a privately owned company headquartered in Brockville, says the feeding system was inspired by information gathered from hog farmers across North America as part of a survey conducted last year.
More and more farmers are moving to loose housing for their sows adult female breeding pigs as the industry evolves to respond to consumer and food company demands. This means farmers need to keep up with new equipment. Heres how the Canarm system can help.
When a sow enters the feeding station, the units scanner works with the radio frequency ID (RFID) tag in the pigs ear to identify the animal and determine whether she needs to be fed or if shes already had her daily allotment of feed.
If the sow is to be fed, the machine extends the feed bowl in front of her and dispenses the appropriate amount of feed. When shes done, the bowl is pulled away and she exits the feeding station.
The system, which is built entirely in North America, has a stainless steel structure and all the connections are waterproof, which makes it durable and able to withstand the wear and tear of daily life in the pig barn.
But its big advantage lies in the software, says Littlejohn. The Canarm electronic sow feeder was specifically designed to integrate directly with a management software package commonly used on pig farms called PigChamp. This makes it easy for farmers to access and work with the data that the feeding station collects each time a pigs ear tag is read.
“Most management software we use now for pigs is based on historical data. This now lets us move to a system where you can work with real time data,” says Littlejohn.
Farmers can monitor what is happening on a feeding station straight from their smart phone or tablet without having to physically be in the barn to make adjustments or see what is going on, and the system was deliberately built using commonly available industrial components that could be serviced by farmers themselves fairly easily.
Says Littlejohn: “Were not reinventing the wheel, but were looking at what is used in other environments and bringing that into loose sow housing.”
This article is part of a series by Farm & Food Care Ontario to highlight innovative initiatives in animal welfare and environmental stewardship.