WPX ’15 New Product Tour: Big Dutchman BestReader rethinks sow information gathering

Last year in the New Product Tour, Big Dutchman was honored for its BigFarmNet product, which ties together information-gathering and monitoring tools into a single information system. Building on that for 2015, the company is rolling out tools that can capitalize on that system and gather needed information for enhanced swine management.

The BestReader from Big Dutchman was recognized by the New Product Tour panel as an innovation in the way swine producers can manage sows. The compact system replaces the bulky tag reader with a small box linked by Bluetooth to a worker’s phone.

“We demonstrated it here on an iPad, but you can link it to an iPhone or Android device, which is a more practical device,” said Geoff Harris, Big Dutchman.

Linked to BigFarmNet, the BestReader collects a sow’s number from an electronic tag, and allows the operator to see information about the sow, but also to make changes or enter information for improved recordkeeping. The information entered is stored in the BigFarmNet cloud system.

System at work

An example raised by panelist Larry Coleman was a lame sow and what happens with this reader. The reader can capture the sow information from the eartag and then transmit the information to a Bluetooth-enabled phone or other device (a Bluetooth connection is good for about 35 feet) for sow data review or data input.

“Once the system is connected, it will transfer it to the system through the phone,” Harris explained. “You cannot input information on the device itself; it must be entered on the smartphone.”

Harris said this unit is an improvement over the traditional tag reader due to its size and lower cost. The link to the smartphone creates the total reader package. The rising use of smartphones does allow the user to connect and share swine information.

The centralized information approach of the BigFarmNet also means that if an employee makes a feed change for a specific sow on his or her smartphone, the information is updated so anyone else accessing it has the most current details.

Harris said he sees a future where all managers in an operation will have a smartphone to help manage the operation.

The system (via the smartphone) can also use a local Wi-Fi on the farm, which often works better than cellular data due to metal buildings. Panel member Joe Zulovich noted that’s a common problem, so having a Wi-Fi network for the system will work. When there is no signal, the phone can store information from the reader until it gets data access, then transmit to the network.

Harris said you need to be about 20 inches from the sow with the reader to get a reading. That’s about the same distance as traditional readers, the only competition that Harris said currently exists for its reader.

Harris demonstrated the reader for the panel, showing how it reads the tag and pulls the information on the tablet. The information that can come up includes:

  • Location
  • transponder number
  • days in current state
  • feed curve information
  • which feed curve she is on (and you can directly change the feed curve)
  • feed adjustments
  • sow weight
  • condition
  • other details on the animal
  • sow’s birthday
  • genetic information can be input, too

Dale Stevermer noted that this is not a data entry point for farrowing or breeding information. Harris noted that it can be used to define general characteristics; this reader also interfaces with the feeding systems. Some sow records are managed in a different part of the software not controlled by the BestReader.

The panel felt the idea was solid, and the product holds promise for the future. However, they are looking at ways for the smartphone to be the ear tag reader and data collection tool directly. Learn more about the BestReader at bigdutchmanusa.com.

TAGS: Business
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