In the context of our developments, we, at corvitac, have already dealt with the possibilities of implementing digital technology in pigpens in several ways. The greatest potential lies in the area of sow housing.
But what is exactly the reason for this?
Pig farming itself is very labour-intensive but not only that. Sow farmers have been facing great challenges over the years, which will even increase further in the future. These are for example the need of dealing with tail-docking issues, the ban of castration without anaesthesia or the abolition of gestation crates. With all these concerns and issues in relation to animal welfare, from African swine fever to the high investment costs that will be incurred by sow farmers in the upcoming years, it can easily be forgotten that there are tasks in everyday life that already also cost too much money. Precisely these practical problems are the ones digitalisation should address.
Let's take a look at a few examples of how innovative, intelligent technology can save farmers a lot of money and time.
Example 1: Counting piglets in the weaning phase
Let’s consider the following example: a pig farmer intends to sell 1000 piglets each month to a trader or piglet breeder. They regularly face the problem of recording the exact number of piglets themselves or with the help of their employees. It can happen that, for instance, one hides under the trough, the person counting simply gets confused or previous loses were not properly recorded.
Although the counting task is not easy, let’s assume the farmer manages to count the 1000 piglets correctly. But can they be 100% sure? The next day their customer can easily call and say that, after recounting, they only received 992 piglets. Neither the owner nor their customer can prove the results they got. But one thing is certain: the customer will not pay 1000 piglets if they are seeing only 992. If things go well, the customer may count the animals again. However, it is unlikely to get a more accurate result as counting is not easier in such large groups.
In addition, this takes a lot of time and energy from both the farmers and the customers, so dissatisfaction often develops.
Now imagine this: the pig farmer gives away 1000 piglets but only counted, and therefore invoiced, 992. The customer perhaps manages to count 998 animals, being therefore closer to the correct result. Although they cannot be sure about the veracity of the calculations, they will gladly accept the bill and pay for only 992 piglets. Statistically, situations like this one occur daily in Germany and probably the reason that not many sow farmers received a complaint is because they did not invoice enough piglets.
Our corvitac Pig-Counter shows that pig farmers are able to get a lot more money from customers when counting piglets by avoiding cases like the ones mentioned. It saves plenty of time and with it you can always be sure you invoice the right number of pigs. In addition, it can also prove to the customers the veracity of the results and that the invoices are correct, as the exact number of animals is even displayed in the video.
But this is not the only challenge that can be solved with our technology…
Example 2: Error-free documentation
Now let’s ask ourselves this question: What is actually the most strenuous or perhaps even also most annoying task in a pig farm? One might think that it is the physically tiring work or the really challenging issues that origin when, for instance, an illness breaks out among the animals, big changes in sows’ estrus cycles occur or the food is not eaten.
However, we believe that the tasks that have nothing to do with the animal itself not only provide little or no added value but still have to be completed and constantly repeated, turning into a really exhausting and annoying job. Counting animals and preparing the corresponding reports are also part of these tasks. However, the problem starts with simple things like writing invoices, keeping accounts or keeping one's own documentation up to date for quality control. Ultimately, if the numbers are inaccurate or any calculations are missing, it is very laborious to correct these mistakes, when even able to be corrected at all.
This whole thing can become quite expensive if official authorities lack of information or it is somehow incorrect. They will usually apply deductions or severe penalties, so that the pressure in relation to optimized documentation is increased. Pig farmers, however, should be concentrating on what they have learned and what they are best at: taking care of the animals, improving processes in the barn, optimizing hygiene measures, early detection of diseases and so on.
In order for farmers and sow keepers to be able to concentrate fully on their passion instead of facing the increasing documentation requirements, it is necessary to use digital intelligent technology to automate all this bureaucratic work.
Error-free documentation can only be guaranteed if every step in the documentation chain is standardized and digitized. This is possible if the necessary data is directly and digitally recorded according to a given standard in order to provide comparability and the evidence that is required. Afterwards, during the next inspection, for instance, pig owners can simply open the software for the inspector and list and document all the data accurately and conclusively.
Example 3: Diseases and animal conditions
As we already mentioned before, bureaucratic requirements in pig farming continue to increase, partly due to concerns about animal welfare and disease avoidance. Through the years, it has become necessary for farms to carry out individual analysis and send out regular documentation regarding animal conditions that, even though it is important for the welfare of the animals, it does not provide added value to the farm. On the contrary, these duties use up all the energy and time from the farmers and their employees and the essential tasks are pushed into the background. However, since every sow keeper wants to breed as healthy piglets as possible, animal diseases need to be detected as early as possible in order to be able to act in time, avoid losses and achieve good results.
And this is where intelligent technology could also be applied. External abnormalities such as tail biting or animal diseases can be detected with the aid of sensors that observe the behavior of the animals. With the right technology, they can be documented directly - and theoretically, day and night.
The general condition of the animals at the time of sale can again be proven to the customer through the videos in the corvitac Pig-Counter, in order to have proof afterwards of having delivered healthy piglets. Our systems have the potential enough to achieve this level of digitization.
This is only a small extract from the advantages of intelligent technology.
With corvitac, digitizing barns not only saves money and time, but also automatically improves operations in times of increasing documentation requirements and official controls.
Do not hesitate and make your pig farming future-proof with corvitac!