In an era of tight margins, real-time data on finishing pig weight and performance is critical. Automated pig sorting technology can increase revenues by up to $10,000 per year per 1,000-head barn, according to research published on Pork Information Gateway.
Automated sorting scales offer producers a way to feed pigs based on individual weights, explains Jeff Morten, U.S. sales account manager at Nedap Livestock Management. As a result, they see maximized feed efficiency and more consistent finished groups of pigs.
Here are three ways automated sorting scale technology could improve your bottom line:
1. Reduce guesswork.
Individual electronic animal identification allows producers to identify and monitor each pig individually with automated sorting scale technology. The automated sorting scales weigh each pig and direct it to one of two feeding areas where it receives the diet best suited to the pig’s weight. When a pig reaches market weight, the system automatically cuts it from the group by directing it to a delivery section.
Eliminating guesswork and possible sorting losses allows producers to plan deliveries and transport up to four weeks in advance, according to Morten.
“Our sort loss has dropped from $3.20 to $0.14 per head,” says Roger Cech, a Nebraska pig producer who upgraded to automated sorting scale technology in 2019. “You can project consistent loads and set up marketing much better with the data.”
Purdue University research shows that when sorting accuracy errors occur, the sort loss per pig was $2.50 to $4.55 per pig greater than with accurate sorting.
2. Make better use of your labor force.
Cech says automation also reduces the time his team spends sorting, marking and loading market hogs. Eliminating repetitious tasks allows them to focus on animals that need their attention.
“Without the automatic sorters, it took us an hour to mark, then another hour-and-a-half to sort each load of 175 pigs,” Cech says. “That ends up being about 15 hours per room, and we have six rooms to empty.”
Automatic sorting allows Cech’s team to complete loadout in about 15 minutes, using only one to two employees to get the job done. Plus, he says, “the pigs load more calmly than without using the sorters.”
3. Discover greater efficiencies.
In addition to greater labor and planning efficiency, automated sorting scales deliver efficiency by providing more meat produced per foot of available floor space and data on activity, weight, growth and sorting results in real time to enable producers to make more informed management decisions.
“It’s time to take control of your finishing program,” Morten says. “You can quit feeding and marketing to averages. Instead, invest in automation to increase the uniformity of your finishing groups and get them to market on time, every time.”
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