Optimizing use of pig stalls

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Nedap PorkTuner automatically sorts and feeds finishing pigs based on weight, resulting in more kilos pork sold per square meter of floor-space

By structuring your feed and stall systems more intelligently, you not only make better use of every square meter, but you also save on labor and feed costs. HANS HOEVINK* explains the three ways this can make you money.

Space is precious. This goes for pig farms, too, of course. So why prop your pig stall full of concrete or plastic crib partitions? By keeping growers in large groups and feeding them based on body weight, you can use all the space of your stalls more efficiently and your feed patterns are better tailored to pigs actual requirements. Furthermore, thanks to finely tuned stocking and delivery management, you can also achieve more cycles each year. This way, you can produce 11% more pigs each year from the same stall size.How does the Nedap PorkTuner work?

Figure 1 shows a stall configuration with the Nedap PorkTuner, which can hold groups of between 300-600 pigs. The total space consists of two feed stations, a resting area and a passage to the station with three possible exits. This system weighs each pig and leads the animals to one of the two feed stations with the feed most appropriate for the weight of the pig. Precise information about weight development enables easy switching of individual animals to the next type of feed. This results in both faster growth rates and improved feed conversion, since you feed exactly according to need. The third exit from the Nedap PorkTuner leads to the delivery space once pigs are up to delivery weight. The animals use all of the pen space until the moment that the first pigs reach delivery weight; you partition off the selection space only when selecting. This way, you use the stall space much more efficiently. Furthermore, you deliver pigs at the desired delivery weight and you get an extremely reliable delivery prognosis and schedule beforehand. Not only is this practical for you, but efficiency also increases throughout the chain due to better logistical planning.

Figure 1: PorkTuner concept.  

More yield, lower feed costs, less labor

• You benefit in multiple areas with this efficient stall set-up and individual feeding method:

Thanks to better utilization of stall space, you can deliver up to 11% more pigs annually.

• Average yield price per kilo increases since you no longer have weight discount.

• Improved delivery planning: the system provides a reliable prognosis of delivery moments for main, intermediate and residual deliveries from each pen. In the summary on your computer screen, you see exactly how many pigs you can load from which stall.

• Lower feed costs and higher growth rates from feed based on need. Based on actual body weight, the system determines the moment to switch each individual pig from starter feed to final feed via an intermediate step.

• Higher health status and better biosecurity: your personnel do not need to walk among the pigs for marking or delivery. So less animal–human contact and less risk of spreading disease. 

• Placement and delivery of pigs is much less labor-intensive. When stocking, personnel do not have to sort piglets by weight: sorting is done automatically.

• Stalls are easier to clean and disinfect with less fencing and corners. 

Table 1: Cost:benefit analysis of traditional stall set-up versus Nedap PorkTuner.

Financial benefit

Here is a calculation example providing insight into the financial picture. If you have a business with 20,000 places and deliver 11% more pigs, this means that you deliver 8097 more pigs on an annual basis. Since the feeding station switches each individual pig to the following type of feed at the right moment, you save EUR 4.54 worth of feed costs for each pig. At the same price per kilo of delivery weight, the same piglet price and other costs, feed profit then increases by EUR 4.54 for each pig. With this more efficient stocking and feeding system, the total feed profit is then EUR 643,726 higher than in the traditional situation. Combine this with savings of EUR 20,000 in employee costs, and the result is EUR 663,726 of extra yield and savings each year. And this does not even include the benefits of higher yield price per kilo, faster growth rates and health status.

Return on investment

Naturally, the investment in the Nedap PorkTuner is factored in. In this calculation example, the purchase amount of the system is EUR 365,000. Investment yield is then EUR 365k / EUR 663k = 0.55. So the payback period on your investment is less than two years. On the other hand, you save on crib furnishings, making the payback period even shorter.

So with the Nedap PorkTuner, you use all the space of your pig stall optimally, saving money on both feed and labor. It is a sustainable investment that also contributes to improved health status and optimizes delivery management.

*Hans Hoevink ([email protected]) is Sales Manager, Southeast Asia at Nedap.

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