TINKERING WITH ESF
Tom Parsons, professor of swine production medicine and director of PennVet’s Swine Teaching and Research Center, has worked with hog producers and integrators on implementing electronic sow feeding systems on farms throughout the East and Midwest.
WATCHING THE SOWS
Making an ESF system work, Parsons says, comes down to having employees who are familiar with good animal husbandry.
OFF TO FEED
Sows inside PennVet’s swine research center head off to the electronic feeder. Using RFID tags attached to each sow’s ear, the system keeps track of how much a sow eats and can be automatically adjusted based on gestation period.
PennVet’s swine research center includes modern farrowing pens where researchers study farrowing crates and other methods for better animal welfare and production.
Allowing sows to roam freely allows researchers to better study the social hierarchy of pigs.
A room just down the hall from the gestation area is used to study free farrowing. Although possible in a modern hog facility, free farrowing is risky because of increased piglet mortality.