The U.S. hog industry is big business, but Amos Petersen, co-founder and CEO of FarrPro, says the industry could be even bigger.
“We bring to market over 125 million hogs, but it could be a lot larger,” he says. He points to multiple issues leading to prewean mortality. “They [piglets] are lost to disease, they are lost to the cold — and all of this is downstream from inadequate supplemental heat in the creep area.”
The conventional method to keep piglets warm and healthy has been a variation of the lightbulb, or heat lamp, he says.
Inefficiencies in this existing method, Petersen says, are in the way the heat is distributed, with “only a net usable area for about 20% in the middle, a ring, which we’ll call the ‘Goldilocks zone.’ And the rest of that energy is either passed as waste heat into the barn, where it affects the ambient environment; or even directly onto the sow, and [it] irritates the sow and causes a decrease in lactation.”
He also points out the dangers, such as barn fires caused by heat lamps, as well as employees injured by hot or broken bulbs.
FarrPro’s solution is the Haven, which creates a microclimate for the piglets in the farrowing pen. The Haven is made up of an elongated parabolic reflector and a heat element that emits long-wave infrared energy.
Its design uses the partition wall between farrowing crates, providing semi-enclosed microclimates for two neighboring creeps that are safely away from crush danger areas. The Haven delivers heat energy that feels like sunshine, warming the piglets thoroughly.
This type of heat transfer is not only highly efficient but also promotes healthy creep behavior (little or no piling) and early weight gain. What’s more, it keeps heat from spilling onto the sow, keeping her cool and stress-free — which promotes healthy milk production and overall comfort. This type of heat transfer is not only highly efficient, it also promotes healthy creep behavior (little or no piling) and early weight gain. What’s more, it keeps heat from spilling onto the sow, keeping her cool and stress-free which promotes healthy milk production and overall comfort.
Judge Brad Leuwerke, a veterinarian, was concerned about the Haven’s durability, “but what he [Petersen] described intrigued me, and this might be something that I would recommend to a client.”
Leuwerke was also impressed by how, in addition to the Haven, many of the products on this year’s tour addressed industry concerns: “And certainly preweaning mortality, laid-on death losses on the sow farm is a big concern, so that’s a positive in terms of trying to correct an industry issue.”
In addition to the Haven gaining favor with the judges, National Hog Farmer readers also like what the product offers piglets, resoundingly choosing the Haven as the Producers’ Choice award winner.
“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen by the readership of National Hog Farmer for the Producers’ Choice Award,” Petersen says. “For us it is a validation of the philosophy that has driven development of this product from Day 1: Listen closely to what producers want and find a way to give it to them.”
Editor’s note: Judge Brett Ramirez, Iowa State University assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, has been involved in testing of the FarrPro Haven at ISU, but he abstained from all discussion of this product.