Around 1-in-10 piglets in commercial farms die from being crushed by their mothers, with the number even larger on organic farms. Last year, this resulted in the death of 13 million piglets in the U.S. and 116 million globally, according to Iowa agtech startup SwineTech. To improve piglet health, the company has received additional funding for a wearable device for a sow that sends an impulse to her when she is crushing a piglet. SwineTech detects this situation with another device, installed in the sow’s farrowing stall, which detects and measures piglet squeals, and has been trained to pick up the specific squeal of a suffocating piglet.
The wearable device can also feed information back to the farmer about the state of the sow’s overall health, in a ‘Fitbit for pigs’ type product.
This week, SwineTech raised $1.3 million in Series A funding from a wide range of high net worth investors, farmers, investment networks, and accelerators including Quake Capital from New York, the Iowa Startup Accelerator — which SwineTech took part in two years ago — and the AgVentures Alliance. There were 19 investors in this round.
SwineTech will use the funding to manufacture its devices and officially commercialize the product, although it already has a few large paying customers.
In the future, SwineTech also hopes to provide other digital tools for hog farmers to help with the documentation of antibiotic use.
SwineTech has had the backing of a few major organizations including the Iowa Department of Agriculture, and is working towards an arrangement with an animals welfare group.
Rooda aims to roll out SwineTech to the largest corporate hog farms first, where they can make three times return on their investment, purchasing the product for around $1k, and getting $3k back in savings from saved piglets.