Optimizing Farrowing Sow Feeding at a Budget Price
Pork producers are trying to improve the way they work. They wish to make effective decisions, increase cost savings, and improve sow performance and profitability. They also have to deal with challenges such as labor management. Since the owners of Jyga Technologies are pork producers too, they face those challenges daily.
Alain Lefebvre, co-owner of Jyga technologies said: ‘’When I thought about designing a new feeding system for Gestal, I thought about how we go everywhere with our cellphones. I imagined a farm that I could control directly and completely from it. ‘’
The Gestal Focus is the newest addition to the Gestal farrowing sow feeders’ line of products. The computerized feeding system is an entry level feeder that is reliable and heavy duty to meet producers’ needs. Although it can be purchased at a budget price, you can still capture Gestal quality and benefits.
We interviewed different producers using the farrowing system in their farm in a pre-launch phase, and asked their opinion about their Gestal Focus smart feeders. Here is what they had to say about it.
An Economic System
Low Electric Installation Costs
The price of the feeder itself is affordable, but another advantage of the Gestal Focus smart feeder is the electric installation that doesn’t require a power outlet over each crate. There’s a lot of money to save in electrical component installation alone.
Using 24V electricity, the installation can be done easily. Each unit is connected to a power supply which takes care of providing electricity on demand.
In addition to a cheaper electric installation, the 24V DC motor and the power supply account for electric variations and therefore is a great advantage in areas where there are known power fluctuations.
A Smart Farrowing Feeding Solution
Feeding Tasks Are Taken Care of
Gestal feeders are made to simplify management while optimizing feed intake in farrowing. The Focus will stimulate your sows to stand up multiple times a day to eat. It’s advantageous from a labor savings standpoint to let the system manage this task instead of having an employee spend time getting all sows up multiple times per day. Instead, the Focus can tell managers or employees which animals have not risen to request a meal and need staff intervention. The Focus never abandons it’s tasks, never take days off, and never gets sick. It’s always focusing on feeding each and every sow to her individual needs.
Isabelle Bélanger, a Focus user, said: ‘’It is getting all my sows up multiple times a day. And if it doesn’t, I see it in real time with my Gestal reports.’’
In addition, it is possible at any time to change the sow’s feeding curve and sow feeding program to adjust to the animal’s environment. For example, during periods of summer heat stress, schedules can be implemented encouraging sows to eat during cooler times of the day, or at night, to help her maximize intake and avoid a decrease in milk production. Other strategies can be implemented, in addition to the use of a smart feeder, to help mitigate the impacts of heat stress.
Software and Mobile App for Managing the Feeders
Gestal feeders use prescribed feed curves that can be assigned individually to animals to indicate how much animals are to be fed, and feed schedules to indicate at what times they receive meals. These curves and schedules can be managed and edited from the office computer, directly from the feeder keypad, or by using the mobile/tablet application.
Isabelle Bélanger, a Quebec producer, said that she liked the way the feeder management works. ‘’Now, everything is on my mobile application. I can change/adjust the feed curves, see the sow’s history, and I almost don’t need my sow card anymore. I can also enter my herd data on the Vision Mobile App (software), so I avoid data-entering mistakes. ‘’
When entering the farm in the morning, producers know right away to which sows they need to direct their attention first. An automatic report from the software directs them to the sows in need, thanks to Gestal’s feed intake monitoring. It can be seen, at a glance, which sows did not eat enough the day before. It is a useful feature since it can avoid animal loss by aiming attention at sick animals, for example. In addition, off-feed animals can be detected earlier in an illness or event and intervention can be given quickly. Identifying sick/off-feed animals early has traditionally been a task for the most experience employees, but is automatic with Gestal lactation software.
On-demand Feeding Using a Trigger
Gestal farrowing equipment uses a trigger inside the feel bowl for sows to request meals. Software reports are available to indicate at what times animals are requesting meals, making it easier to adjust schedules and improve overall intake. In addition, these smaller meals over several periods of the day serve to decrease feed wastage. For creation of meaningful consumption reports, Gestal feeders have a 20% buffer on the feed amount available to make sure that the sow intake is not limited.
Animals that consume over 100% for multiple days are flagged by a report (entirely customizable by producer) and may be candidates for increased feed targets. Each farm is unique in terms of genetics/parity/management combinations, so easy-to-use reports help in adjusting settings for your farm until the correct feed amounts are delivered at the correct times. Like elsewhere in your farm, efficiency is the key.
The Focus smart electronic feeder can manage each sow’s water intake. With this optional solenoid valve, the Gestal Focus can distribute a certain quantity of water when feeding the sow.
A Feeding Strategy Designed by Pork Producers
Standalone for Peace of Mind
A standalone feeder is the key to peace of mind. This is why all Gestal smart feeders have the ability to keep feeding even if the farm computer breaks down. Each feeder has a memory so that it can still feed your sow with the right amount of feed and can report that feed intake back to the computer when it is online again.
‘’Every producer with a minimum amount of experience in swine production, faced, at some point, equipment that stopped working. At this moment, you’re happy if there is a backup system. However, this backup option is to tell you to fix the problem, and to fix it fast! With the Gestal standalone feeders, no need to worry. The feeder keeps feeding even if the farm computer stops working and data is stored locally so it isn’t lost. There is no urge to find a solution and it can always wait until Monday!’’ Alain Lefebvre, Gestal user.
Waterproof and Dustproof
We are continuously talking about the importance of biosecurity in sow production. Producers have to protect their herds from diseases, and we are continuously trying to improve procedures to limit transmissions between sites, animals, and from humans to animals.
Your feeders always stay in the barn, and they are in contact with your animals at all times. In our opinion, being able to pressure wash your feeders is mandatory. This is the reason Gestal feeders, such as the Focus, are certified dustproof and waterproof (Nema 4X, IP 66) so you can pressure wash them without any hesitation.
‘’You’re going to wash your farrowing rooms at least 13x/year. Do you really want to select a feeder that can’t resist pressure washing?’’ Sylven Blouin, Agr.
With pressure-washable smart electronic sow feeders, you get the best of both worlds.
‘’Having a pressure-washable and dustproof feeding system facilitates our site management. Whenever sows leave a farrowing room, we pressure wash it and make sure it is safe for new animals coming in.’’ Marie-Claude, Producer
Smart Feeders. Smart Investment.
Gestal feeders are a great option for producers who want to improve their herd performance, keep their sows in better body condition through farrowing, decrease their wean to estrus interval, as well as facilitate their farm management in terms of both decision–making and labor.
Nothing is left to fate with a smart feeder designed according to producers’ needs.
Coupled with the Vision software, herd management is made easier and decision making based on facts.
With the addition of Gestal Focus to their farm, producers are able to improve many areas of their production. This is the main reason why Gestal farrowing sow feeders have such a quick return on investment, all around the world.
Other Gestal Products That Could Interest You
The Gestal 3G for group-housing is the right feeder solution to avoid competition between sows and allow for easy group management with low sow training and maintenance. There are a lot of things to consider when going to group housing. It’s important to find the right fit for your operation.
Gestal Quattro is our high-end farrowing feeding system. As well as managing farrowing sows just like the Focus, it also manages the piglets’ environment (heat lamp, heat mat). In addition, the Quattro is able to blend feeds.
Gestal Solo is our midrange farrowing feeder. It has a screen on every feeder to allow for quick detection and analysis of sow details . It is standalone, waterproof and dustproof just like every other Gestal feeder.
The Gestal EVO Opti is the first Gestal feeder for nursery, grow-finish and gilt development units. It has dual hoppers for the ability to feed multiple diets or blends of these diets at each pen, and can be set to automatically adjust diets or blends on a daily basis or based on targets/budgets. It is designed for use in commercial and research applications alike.