New Product Tour: SwineTech SmartGuard

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Gregg Hora, Iowa hog producer; Clayton Johnson, veterinarian with Carthage Veterinary Service; Mark Knauer, North Carolina State University; and Brett Ramirez, Iowa State University, reviewed nine products in this year's New Product Tour.

SmartGuard provides the technologies necessary to automate and augment farrowing management, allowing for reduced labor and energy costs as well as sow and piglet mortalities. This is accomplished by leveraging voice recognition and smart cameras, as well as environmental and behavioral sensors that constantly monitor a designated farrowing environment.

SmartGuard has been proven to reduce piglet crushing by 30% and overall piglet mortalities by 25.3% on a large commercial sow farm in Iowa.

Brett Ramirez, Iowa State University engineering professor on the panel, asked Matthew Rooda, SwineTech CEO and president, about the system's accuracy "if you had to look at a confusion matrix of false positives, true negatives, et cetera, what does that look like?"

"So we're right around the 97.3% on true positive," Rooda said. "Our false positive rate ends up being around 7.1%. We look at that, but we also don't want false negatives either. And so that's been a big part of our overall goals as well."

Rooda added that research is being done with 9,900 sows on research farms enabling the company to collect data.

"We have full camera surveillance on litters to actually record all of that data. We can then go back and watch every death or saved piglet, and then identify whether it's a lay-on or not," he said. "We found that about 68% of lay-ons actually occur when the sow's rolling over as opposed to laying down, and most of these deaths occur when the piglet is in search of food."

Apparently, producers liked what they saw in SmartGuard as they chose the technology to be this year's Producers' Choice award winner through online voting.

After learning that his company was chosen as the 2020 Producers' Choice winner, Rooda said "I am very proud of the SwineTech team and thankful for the support that we have received from our customers in the U.S. and Canada. It means a lot to receive this award, however our work doesn't stop here. We are continuing to build innovative tools to improve the way we approach sow farm management."

Rooda added, "it means a lot (earning Producers' Choice) because it is difficult bringing something new to market. It's not just about saving the piglets, it's about the sow welfare and the people taking care of them. It's about making the lives of people working in the farms better and more efficient. We're just trying to figure out how we can use technology to improve the overall experience of working in a sow farm, allowing caregivers to offer the very best care to the pigs."

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New Product Tour 2020 took place during the National Hog Farmer's Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference in May, where the panel was presented a short video shared by the respective company representatives, after which a brief question-and-answer session allowed panelists to find out more about each product.
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