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Technologies are entering in animal farms and farmers must learn how to handle them. Up to now, nutritional requirement are calculated based on genetic and animal stage but we take little cases of each animal specificities and context. By averaging all requirement, we are preventing high potential animal to produce more and we are wasting feed for slower animals. If we can find a way to adjust feed distribution to each animal situation, we should be able to improve further farm performance.

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We should indeed take advantages of the latest technologies that enable us nowadays to capture movement of each animal in order to adjust feed distribution to each situation. Each animal movement can be monitored through an electronic tag to be attached to each animal ear. This device enables to calculate energy requirement according to each animal activity. When a sow is walking, the energy requirement is doubling and feed distribution should then be increased. Farmers can use as well individual feeding cages. Animals can enter in the cage only one by one. The animal is recognized by their electronic ear tag and the weight is recorded every time they enter the cage. Based on animal production history, past days intake and weight, the system will adjust the feed distribution both in quantity and quality. This cage can take up to 4 feeders with 4 different formulations. Based on each animal situation and requirement calculation, a mix of the 4 feed is distributed to match at closely as possible each animal requirement. To avoid wastage and guarantee exact intake, the feed is distributed by small quantity until the animal stop eating. Once he finishes eating, the animal will exit the cage to go to drink and will free the cage for the next animal. Such system is interesting for sows, growers and fatteners. By adjusting diet and intake to each animal situation, we are optimizing production to the maximum of each animal genetic profile. The system will help high potential animals to produce more and save feed costs for slower animals. Such ‘precision’ precision is definitively going to develop in the future to boost farm productivity. All this information (weight, intake, litter size) is then captured into a software to calculate animal productivity. There is today already a lot of information available for a farmer to make a decision. The problem is that this information is not always recorded properly and is often not used as a basis for taking decision. The latest software on the market are using smart phone for capturing data. Workers are simply entering animals ear tag number and production output into their smart phone. The information is stored into the software database in the cloud and reports are accessible from any web device.

But the key strategic question to keep in mind is to understand how such software can help to improve farms results. I like to call such software some SELECTION tool. For a farmer, a difficult but very critical decision is to select the animals to cull. The culling strategy is essential to free spaces in the farms through removal of the less performing animals.

  • Less performing sows (based on performance of past parities)

  • Less performing workers (based on performance of the sows they manage)

  • Less performing building design

We believe that the only way to improve the genetic potential of a farm is by purchasing new gilts and boars with high profile. But we do not have much information on them and it is always difficult to predict their performance once in the farm. It is more critical to take early decision on the animal to cull based on performance. Animals are competing for spaces in the farms and only the most performing animals must be kept. The others should be removed as fast as possible. The faster we act by culling less performing animals, the higher will increase the overall farm productivity.

It is a race for performance where anticipation is essential. Do not wait to realize that a sow is not performing to cull. Get her replace before. Animals compete for farm spaces and farmer attention and the ‘selection’ software helps you to identify the winners from losers. If you have more question on ‘selection’ software, please do not hesitate to come back to me.

Related tag : Software

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