Precision Feeding in Pig Production: Tailored Nutrition for Healthier Herds
Although the concept of precision feeding is not something new, the technology has undergone tremendous improvements over the last decade. Today, the ability to feed pigs in different phases of growth the right mix of food at the right time is a technology that is becoming commonplace in modern farms.
Utilising purpose-built equipment and smart software, the challenge of maximising feed efficiency while minimising production costs and environmental impacts in pig production can be easily overcome with precision feeding systems.
And the stats regarding the use of precision feeding in pig farms can be quite telling. According to a journal published in Animal Frontiers in April 2019, precision feeding systems in pig production shows great operational benefits with up to 8% reduction in production costs, 40% reduction in excretion and 6% lower greenhouse gas emissions. Precision feeding is also hailed as a major breakthrough to produce high-quality and safe pork due to the ability to control pig nutrition to exacting standards.
DryExact pro and EcoMatic pro – Computer-controlled precision Feeding Made Easy
Precision feeding in pig farming is a feeding management approach that aims to optimise the utilisation of feed resources by tailoring the diet of individual pigs or groups of pigs based on their specific nutritional needs. At Big Dutchman, we have developed two proven systems that uses advanced technology, data analysis, and a deep understanding of pig physiology to provide the right nutrients in the right amounts at the right time.
1. DryExact pro
For weight-based dispensing of feed
The DryExact pro system works with a weighed batch mixer that has a capacity of 70 litres. This makes it possible to supply an individual feed mix to every valve, and with a very high mixing quality and accuracy as the system is controlled by the 510 control computer.
After feeding has started, the weighed batch mixer is filled with different ingredients, with up to 32 ingredients possible. Then the finished mix drops into a hopper with funnel below the mixer or, in case of a two-line circuit, into a container (tilting box) that supplies feed alternately to both circuits.
The mix is then transported to the respective feed valve while the next recipe is already being prepared in the mixer. A sensor inside the feed hopper verifies that the hopper is empty to prevent intermixing of the individual feed recipes. This process is repeated until all valves have been supplied with feed.
2. EcoMatic pro
For volume-based dispensing of feed
EcoMaticpro uses a volume-based feed concept where the individual ingredients have to be metered only once. Once an individual feed mix is prepared for each feed valve, there is no further need for a mixer, distribution unit or feed kitchen.
The system is cost-efficient and especially well-suited for high livestock numbers with each feed cycle controlled precisely by the 510 control computer. After feeding has started, the individual ingredients are dispensed into the conveying pipe based on the pre-determined volume.
To make this possible, a frequency-controlled auger is situated in the feed hopper beneath each silo and dispenses the required amounts of the individual ingredients into the conveying pipe. The ingredients are then mixed to create the correct recipe, and this feed mix is then dispensed in portions by the valves.
Both of these systems allow for multi-phase feeding to feed pigs based on their age, directly contributing to savings on feed cost. The control computer is also able to automatically record feed consumption, be it per pen or per room. And when linked to the BigFarmNet software, all computers, controllers and sensors in the farm can be linked to enable 24-hour monitoring and tracking of animal performance for maximum efficiency.
Although both systems are effectively suitable for pig farms of any size and management style, certain consideration can help you decide the right system for your operations:
- Number of Pigs
The DryExact pro system features 10 valves that can accommodate up to 10,000 pigs, whereas the EcoMatic pro with 5 valves is suited for farms with up to 5,000 pigs.
- Type of Feeding programme
Both the DryExact pro and EcoMatic pro are suited for pig raised in a group feeding programme. Individualised precision feeding with specific diets for each pig, such as sows, can benefit from the use of Electronic Sow Feeding or ESF.
Precision feeding – when deployed using smart and robust equipment such as the DryExact pro and EcoMatic pro – is akin to having a customised meal plan for every pig in a specific growth phase. Furthermore, the added advantage of reduced reliance on labour, real-time monitoring and early identification of health issues makes precision feeding a sure-fire way for commercial pig production farms to optimise operations and enhance profitability.
Want to know how Big Dutchman can make your pig nutrition programme smarter with precision feeding systems? Click the ‘Send a Message’ button below to talk to us!
See Big Dutchman’s Dry Exact pro feeding system in action at the Hubbard Feeds Leavenworth Livestock Research Facility in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, USA: