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Electronic Sow Feeding in Group Housing


Tim Kurbis

Electronic Sow Feeding Stations

Electronic Sow Feeding (ESF) is a shift in how we manage sows in group housing and the North American market is rapidly moving towards housing sows in large open pens. Group sow housing with electronic sow feeding is designed to create stress free and efficient husbandry. With ESF systems you will save on feed, improve animal welfare, and increase hog production. Switching your barn to ESF systems or building these systems into your new barn can help you manage your hog facilities more easily.


The Benefits of ESF Feeding Stations

Converting an existing site or building new with Electronic Sow Feeding is one of the best ways to improve cost management and improve efficiency in hog production. With electronic feeding systems, you can control how much feed each sow receives in group housing by feeding each pig individually. These automated systems will allow each sow to eat in a comfortable environment within her own station, reducing her overall stress and improving her health. With electronic feeding, you improve the sows’ comfort while also reducing feed wastage.

An ESF system will improve the welfare and overall health of each sow, which leads to more live born piglets and fewer health problems. With a happier pig also comes less noise. When you walk into a hog barn that has correctly implemented an ESF system, you will notice a dramatic noise reduction from traditional barns. Since the pigs eat individually, they are not continuously jostling for position. There is a small amount of positioning when the sows line up for the stations, but the pigs are able to calmly enter their own feed station rather than fighting in a high stress environment. Also, when set up correctly, the animals do not rush the feeders at the start of a feeding cycle; they quickly realize they don’t have to compete for feed and with that thought removed from their minds, they eat on their own schedule.

The automation behind these systems makes it easy for you to apply feed strategies, and it will even notify you when a pig does not eat her full portion. Management simply inputs a feed program for a sow on her initial entry into a pen and the system then feeds her accordingly. The feed programs are set based on the needs of the sows or gilts individually, and feed amounts can be increased as gestation progresses. The technology designed into the feeding systems has proven to produce better results in pig condition and piglet rates. By tracking feed and reviewing stored data, you are also better able to analyze your results.

See examples of our facilities here.


Training and Managing with Electronic Feeding

With Electronic Sow Feeding systems, training your staff and animals is just as important as implementing the technology. A barn will only perform as well as it is used by the staff. A well-educated and trained employee is essential to serving the site, the pigs and themselves well. It does take time to train the staff and pigs, but your barn will be more efficient and easier to manage in the end. Once training is complete, the automation from Electronic Sow Feeding systems will bring a better flow to your site, more comfort to your pigs, and higher pig production numbers.

Learn more about how we design our loose housing and electronic feeding systems by setting up a free consultation with us!

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Topics: Electronic Feeding, Sow Housing



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