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Blog posts tagged with 'eurotier'

Smart Farming requires smart evaluation
Smart Farming requires smart evaluation

Evaluating new technology should be based on three critical factors…does it fit, will we use the information, and will it make us more profitable? 

By Fritz Richards, Sales Manager, Hog Slat Inc.

We just returned from the EuroTier show held in Hanover, Germany.  Billed as the largest animal production trade fair in the world this year's theme was "Digital Animal Farming."   Many of the equipment manufacturers highlighted sensor technology designed to measure everything from humidity, lighting, behavior, estrous, etc. and link the data to Artificial Intelligence systems.

In the middle of this overwhelming display of "smart farming" it pays to take a moment to consider the real value of all this technology. “Smart Farming” does not mean that you have every piece of high tech equipment on your farm that is available.  “Smart Farming” is maximizing your profitability by utilizing the correct combination of technology and quality products.

Every production system is different, whether it's a single farm or a large integrated model spread over many locations.

First, each production system needs to evaluate new products with a critical eye to determine if it fits their system.

Sow stanchion

Let's take the example of group sow housing.  For a farm with a stable workforce and low turnover, electronic sow feeding could be an excellent choice for loose housing.   Forcing the same ESF equipment on a production system with higher employee turnover would not yield as good of results.  It would be easier to train employees and maintain the equipment with a less intensive system using stanchions and drop feeding — less technology but better results.

The second criterion for evaluating new technology is will the production system utilize this new information.

SowMAX & Electronic Feeder

Consider feeding sows for maximum performance in lactation.   Installing a trigger activated SowMAX dispenser will increase productivity and reduce labor and wastage compared to hand feeding.   Installing an electronically activated hopper will yield similar results and record the metered amount of feed to a central record keeping system.  The evaluation must then be, is this additional information worth the higher cost and increased maintenance?  How will this new information be used to make better management decisions?

The third and the absolutely most important evaluation for any new technology is it should LOWER COSTS AND IMPROVE PROFITS. 

The cost of computerized ventilation controllers is easily recoupled through increased growth rates due to the improved environment, but adding additional features only increases cost with little chance for payback.  Take the example of a recent project where the owner wanted to connect the ventilation control to his smartphone at a cost of $10,000.  This additional expense would not have significantly improved pig performance and would have only put him in a weaker financial position.

Now don't get this wrong, we're not backward thinking Luddites opposed to all new technology, but we think for "smart farming” to be truly smart it has to pass the following criteria.

1) Does it fit the current production system and personnel?

2) Will the information indeed be used to make better management decisions?

3) And most importantly does it increase productivity AND PROFIT?

Some new “smart farming” technology only increases data overload and offers very little new information to make smarter decisions.  Is it really necessary to individually monitor every animal on a 5,000-sow farm?

Careful and thoughtful evaluation will ensure all new products and technology contribute to a farm’s overall profits.

Fritz Richards is the sales manager for Hog Slat Inc.’s swine business division.  Fritz can be reached

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Hog Slat Showcases Swine Equipment at EuroTier 2012

Billed as the world’s top event for animal production, EuroTier was held this past week in Hanover, Germany.  Producers from across the world attend EuroTier and for many it was their first exposure to American style production equipment as exhibited by Hog Slat.

We spoke with Hog Slat’s European sales manager, Kirk Brincks and asked about international producers comments concerning the equipment. He replied, “ Their general reaction is Hog Slat builds durable products that represent a good value.  They like the common sense design and how it is incorporated into the overall building layout.”

We asked Kirk what particular item was most popular, “ I would have to say the SowMAX dispensers.  All producers are facing high feed costs and feed saving equipment is important to them.  A customer, with sow farms in the Ukraine and Poland, has installed over 1,000 SowMAX units and is sold on the feed savings.”

He continued, “Another big item of interest is concrete slats.  We had many producers who see them for the first time and immediately comment on the quality.  I think people tend to view concrete slats as all being kind of the same, but we really do build a slat that will last longer.  Experienced producers seemed to recognize it very quickly.”

“And”, he laughed, “they always ask when are we building a slat plant near them”

Kirk finished up with, “The Grower Select line has caught on quickly. We have several production companies that we work with in identifying their high replacement items, providing them easy order forms and stocking those parts for quick delivery.   Grower Select just fits with Hog Slat’s basic philosophy of providing producers with a better value for their money……. in this case it’s excellent quality replacement parts that are priced right.”

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EuroTier.....the Greatest Barn Show on Earth!

ITM-EuroTier Sign-IMG_edited-1

I gotta to tell you, it is amazing.

EuroTier bills itself as the largest animal production trade show in the world. Held every two years in Hanover, Germany the show draws over 150,000 visitors from across the globe with 2400 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

If it has anything to do with animal husbandry, it’s at EuroTier. Robotic feeding and milking equipment, imaging cameras to digitally record pigs weights, BioFuel systems, manure processing equipment….digital this……computerized that.

Is all of it practical? Probably not.

But, as the global farming industry faces the prospect of feeding nine billion people by the 2050, we will need to embrace fresh ideas. We will need to challenge ourselves to develop systems that utilize workable technology with day to day reliability.

ITM-EuroTier Customers-IMG

Hog Slat’s sales groups in each country work with local producers to create workable production systemsfor their individual farms. Hog Slat develops production ideas from around the world and adapts them to local conditions.

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SowMAX is a hit at EuroTier

SowMAX Eurotier hopper

I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at EuroTier 2014 (read more……). I asked the same question to the Hog Slat sales teams and country managers, ” What items are selling in your market?”

The answers varied, but they all had one common factor….SowMAX.

From German Country Manager, Karl-Heinz Wöste, “German producers understand feeding lactating sows as individuals results in heavier pigs at weaning. The SowMAX system accomplishes this task while reducing labor. Producers also like how simple the SowMAX is….no electronic ear tags to lose or motors to fail.”

SowMAX eurotier customers

“Our customers are adding SowMAX feeders to existing units” explained Rafal Bozek, Country Manager of Poland. “They tried a few units and saw the results…heavier pigs at weaning. For our producers, the SowMAX is the most durable unit on the market. 100% stainless steel. No plastic parts like competitive products. Simple to use too. Fill the hopper and sow eats as little or as much as she wants every day without wasting feed.”

To see more on the benefits of SowMAX click here……

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Vanberg Coatings Joins Hog Slat at EuroTier

Vanberg at Eurotier

Joining Hog Slat in our booth this year at EuroTier was Paul Vanberg and his son Matt from Vanberg Specialized Coatings.  Vanberg Coatings products are recognized in the U.S. industry as the premier repair and protection products for both concrete and metal.


The concrete product line includes:

Con-Korite.  Our “go to” for repairing broken slat edges and restoring corroded slats. (see more…..)

Eco-Crete.  Good choice for routine repair on all concrete surfaces. (see more…..)

Armor-Rock.  The tough stuff!  Use around feeders and waterers to protect slats from aggressive chemicals and pig traffic (see more…..)

Metal repair products include:

EM-15 Epoxy Mastic:  Used for interior repairs on metal ceilings and walls. (see more…..)

AMC-100 Coating:  Exterior use on roofs and feed Bins. (see more…..)


Paul commented, “This was Vanberg Coatings first exposure to a world-wide audience.  I’ll tell you one thing all livestock and poultry producers have in common,”

“They are pretty tired of using products that have not worked!”

“We introduced products used successfully for years in the U.S. to a whole new group of producers. Working with Hog Slat makes our products available in Europe, China and Latin America.”

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Hog Slat Showcases European Equipment at EuroTier

I have been around Hog Slat for some 22 years now.  In my opinion, one of Hog Slat’s biggest strengths comes from the company’s ability to take its proven equipment designs and adapt to local production methods.

Finishing Barn 90s

Hog Slat introduced the concept of total slatted, curtain-sided finishing barns to the Midwest during the late 80’s.   Hog Slat quickly changed the ventilation, manure handling and building materials to match local conditions, but the basic concept remained the same.  This style of finishing building changed the way pigs were finished in the Midwest resulting in improved pig performance and increased profitability.

A similar situation is developing in Europe with Hog Slat.

Hog Slat’s display at EuroTier showcased a new line of steel equipment tailored to the European swine market.  It’s a different type of equipment than you would see Hog Slat display at the World Pork Expo.

The first thing that comes to eye is the hot-dipped galvanized finish vs. the painted finish most common in the U.S. market.  Interior space is more confined, and the building layouts reflect in equipment design.   And of course EU regulations are followed regarding square footage allowed, penning and flooring design.

Breeding Stall

Euro Breeding stall 1

The Breeding stall features a split “saloon-style” back door.  The split gate allows the operator to enter the stall while the closed section prevents the sow from backing out.

The gate is designed to operated with only one hand allowing the technician to carry a preg-checker or AI equipment in the other.

 Watch a short Video of the saloon doors

Euro Breeding Stall 2

European concrete slats tend to have less open area than slats in the U.S. due to welfare regulations. Stainless steel legs rotate to allow placement of an anchor in a slat opening.  A set bolt is tightened to secure the leg to the stall side.  Three top and four front bars attached to the stall sides with clamps, making it easier to get a straight installation without drilling or welding.

Euro Breeding Stall 3

The stainless steel feed trough will outlast composite or concrete troughs.   Because sows can lie with their heads under the raised trough, the overall length can be reduced to 1.8 meters and still meet EU regulations requiring a stall to be 2 meters long.

International Crate

International crate front

A typical pen layout will have farrowing stalls facing out against the room walls with only a center alleyway.

The combination feed and water trough is raised to allow the sow more effective stall length.  Many producers choose to install the SowMAX (read more…..) and fill with an automatic auger or chain disk system as hand feeding is difficult without a front feeding alley.

International Crate back

To load the crates the rear creep panel is opened, the rear gate unfastened and the movable side panel is slid to its open position. After the sow moves into stall, the operator adjusts the movable side to the size of the sow and selects one of the holes in the rear gate to hold it in place.  The operator then adjusts the bottom bow bar for large or small sows.  The bow bars also include anti-crushing bars to reduce pig mortality.

Euro Farrowing Floor

Hog Slat displayed its plastic flooring and with interlocking cast center sections for farrowing.  Optional types of flooring sections, including red heating sections, allow producers to design a custom floor.  Creep areas are larger than typically used in the U.S.   The EuroTier floor measured 1.8 meters (5.9′) wide by 2.4 meters (7.87′) long.

Euro Penning 2

Hog Slat also featured traditional style European penning with PVC planking on the bottom and galvanized pipes fastened to formed stainless steel posts.  Notice the plastic fasteners at the end of the pipes, after the pipes are cut to length the plastic ends are forced onto the pipe and bolted into place.  U.S. style horizontal penning is also finding some favor with some European producers as it is more cost effective and allows for better ventilation.

Going forward, you will see a constant blend of American and European concepts reflected in the equipment Hog Slat builds for Europe.  Hog Slat’s manufacturing, sourcing and distribution expertise will lower the final cost to the producers without sacrificing quality.

U.S. concepts in ventilation (tunnel), feeding (SowMAX), and finishing equipment (open horizontal penning) will gain acceptance with European producers looking for maximum efficiencies in producing pork.

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