How to Make Good Use of a Smartphone

Pat Thome did his homework to make sure he bought a smartphone that would be rugged and could stand up to the challenging and often dusty, dirty and wet conditions in barns and outdoors. His phone is an important tool he uses every day in his farrow-to-finish operation near Adams, MN.

Lora Berg 1, Editor

May 15, 2012

3 Min Read
How to Make Good Use of a Smartphone

Pat Thome, Adams, MN, carries his smartphone with him all day, every day, in his farrow-to-finish operation. “I use my phone to monitor email and the Internet. It has been especially handy for checking the hog markets in real time and has helped us book hogs with our broker,” he says. “Some opportunities only present themselves for minutes. Having the ability to log into our broker’s Web site to monitor markets is very important.”

Thome recently delivered hogs to a packer that were actually booked via his smartphone while he was combining corn last October.

The smartphone is a handy communication tool when it comes to relaying information to veterinarians, as well. Thome and his employees take pictures of sick pigs and send them to their veterinarian via a text message or email to get an idea of what illness they may be dealing with.

The smartphone is also useful when monitoring hog delivery to the packing plant. “If a hog is rejected when it goes to harvest, we request that a picture be taken at the plant and emailed to us. That way, if we have another load going that day, we can make sure we don’t run into a similar problem. We can discuss the situation with the trucker and employees at the barn,” he says.

Communication with employees works well with smartphone technology, too. Thome texts employees before they come to work to provide updates on what has been going on in the barn and instructions for the day. “It’s faster and easier to text on a smartphone,” he says.

Thome’s smartphone is especially crucial when it comes to emergency preparedness. “Our barns are all alarm-monitored. If an alarm sounds, I receive a text message and phone call at my cell phone.”

Thome farms with his father, Gary, and brother, Matt. They raise crops in addition to pigs. Therefore, weather forecasts and weather radar apps are helpful with crops as well as picking the best time to move pigs.

“Now that we know how porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) moves, we check the forecast before moving pigs and don’t move pigs on days that would be conducive to having the PRRS virus move through the air, putting our pigs at risk of infection.”

Thome’s tips to other producers who might be shopping for a smartphone are to look for durability in the phone they choose. “When you are researching for providers, look for signal strength, too. If you are using email or the Internet, it can be frustrating if you can’t receive a signal in the places you need to be.” Screen size is also important, especially when trying to read emails.

Thome uses a Casio G’z One Commando model smartphone with Android apps. He did his homework to make sure the phone would be rugged and could stand up to the challenging and often dusty, dirty and wet conditions in barns and outdoors. All openings and ports are covered, which helps prevent dust from getting into the phone. Two family members who are involved in the operation carry a smartphone, and a third will be changing as soon as his phone contract allows. All of the Thome barns have cell phone and Wi-Fi connectivity. 


About the Author(s)

Lora Berg 1

Editor, National Hog Farmer

Lora is the editor of National Hog Farmer. She joined the National Hog Farmer editorial team in 1993, served as associate editor, managing editor, contributing editor, and digital editor before being named to the editor position in 2013. She has written and produced electronic newsletters for Farm Industry News, Hay & Forage Grower and BEEF magazines. She was also the founding editor of the Nutrient Management e-newsletter.

Lora grew up on a purebred Berkshire operation in southeastern South Dakota and promoted pork both as the state’s Pork Industry Queen and as an intern with the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. Lora earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Dakota State University in agricultural journalism and mass communications. She has served as communications specialist for the National Live Stock and Meat Board and as director of communications for the University of Minnesota College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences. During her career, Lora earned the Story of the Year award from the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and bronze award at the national level in the American Society of Business Publication Editors’ competition. She is passionate about providing information to support National Hog Farmer's pork producer readers through 29 electronic newsletter issues per month, the monthly magazine and website.

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