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Animal-Friendly Group Housing of 1800 Sows

by 5m Editor
18 November 2008, at 10:13am

US - The topic of animal welfare is becoming increasingly popular in the US. Many states have already passed or are debating about new laws regarding animal welfare, for example, regarding the issue of sows in crates.

In view of these discussions, Rich and Eddie Robinson from Holdenville, Oklahoma, who produce for one of the world’s largest meat processors, are certainly up-to-date with their project: their recently inaugurated barn for 1800 sows was equipped with everything that is needed for animal-friendly group housing.


Proud proprietors: Farm owners, Rich and Eddie Robinson, in front of their new barn

Farm manager, Kirsten Winn, attaches the ear tags

View into the Callmatic 2

Group housing of sows: lots of room for movement, relaxed sows

Fed and content

Taking a leisurely stroll

Feed supply of farrowing pens with Big Dutchman’s powerful Dry Rapid Chain and Disk System for dry feed

The existing site of 600 sows, with the additional 1800 sows in loose housing, now total 2400 sows at the site. In their search for the best possible management and feeding system the two brothers encountered the company Big Dutchman and their electronic sow feeding (ESF) system, Callmatic 2.

The world market leader from Germany is one of the few companies in the industry which has been active in developing and selling the complete equipment including hard- and software for the popular group housing system since it was first introduced to the market 25 years ago.

Impressive building, state-of-the-art technology

The new barn looks quite commanding: the building which comprises the service area, waiting area and farrowing area has a total width of 18.3 metres (61 feet) and a length of 194.5 metres (648 feet). For better surveillance, the innovative Robinson brothers equipped the waiting area with an online camera that is also accessible via internet. The barn is power-ventilated in the winter, curtain-ventilated when it gets warmer, and tunnel-ventilated with evaporative cooling in hot summer weather.

Callmatic 2: sophisticated engineering, best operational performance

Group housing of sows has several advantages, such as an increased room for movement, as well as a better overall condition of the sows. An ESF System is the only way to individually feed sows in loose housing systems. This results in substantial feed savings versus other type systems. Together with the Callmatic 2 ESF system from Big Dutchman, this means healthier animals and more piglets per sow for Rich and Eddie Robinson.

For obvious reasons, Callmatic 2 ideally complements the animal-friendly and extremely efficient group housing system as it provides every sow with the right amount of feed at any time. The Robinson farm has altogether 21 Callmatic 2 ESF stations in which sows are supplied with dry feed.

Every sow carries an ear tag with a transponder. When the sow enters the feeding station, the door closes and an antenna mounted inside the trough flap communicates with the computer and identifies the sow. If the sow is entitled to receive feed, the trough is opened and feed is proportioned with water into the trough. When the sow has finished eating, the trough is automatically closed. After a small delay, the entrance door opens, and the sow exits the station through the see-through exit door when another sow enters the station.

Additional advantages include the closed side partitions, which allow the sow to eat without being disturbed by other sows. Up to five feed curves can be programmed and to assist management, the system offers an automatic selection option, where a sow can be selected out of the pen (up to 16 selection criteria) into a selection aisle by computer, and /or painted with a mark on her back. Other additional features are the colour-marking device, two rations, and a boar-detection device for sows in heat.

Furthermore, Rich and Eddie Robinson decided on equipping every ESF station with a hopper for additives to facilitate the supply with vitamins, minerals or dewormers. They are concerned that their animals have the best welfare as their well being gives top production. The Robinsons are top producers in the USA.

On the Robinson farm, feed is supplied to the ESF stations as well as to the service and farrowing area by means of the flexible and powerful Dry Rapid chain disk delivery system for dry feed from Big Dutchman. The Callmatic 2 feeding stations can, of course, also be used with a liquid feeding system.

Local USA delivery of products and services

US American hog producers can profit from the know-how of the leading supplier for housing and feeding equipment directly in the US, where they can directly profit from the large product range without the trouble of long distance supply.

The hog division of Big Dutchman USA with their headquarters and warehouse in Holland, Michigan, has local US delivery of products and services and can supply a large selection of products, spare parts and has US service technicians. Competent consulting and customer support from project planning and implementation up to the after-sales service are also a large part of the Big Dutchman philosophy.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on Callmatic 2 by clicking here.