Lúcio Marsal

Pig Production Manager


Santa Cecília, Santa Catarina, Brazil

About the farm

  • 1,500 sow breeding multiplication site
  • Expected annual production of 40,000 pigs

Nedap solutions

Nedap SowSense
Electronic Sow Feeding
Heat Detection

Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding and Automatic Heat Detection

Copercampos aims for higher efficiency and better production results

Copercampos started a new 1,500-sow breeding multiplication site in Brazil that operates on behalf of the country’s largest breeding company Agroceres PIC features Nedap’s Electronic Sow Feeding and heat detection stations.

The farming co-operative Campos Novos (known as Copercampos), a long-time multiplier for the Brazilian pig breeding company Agroceres PIC, has built a new 1,500-sow unit near the city of Santa Cecilia in the state of Santa Catarina in South Brazil. The new unit, which is expected to produce up to 40,000 pigs each year, including about 22,000 F1 gilts, could have a dramatic effect on the productivity of Brazil’s pig industry.

One-third of the Brazilian pig industry

“Of the 1,500 sows, half of them will be producing dam line GPs and half will be producing parent boars,” says Agroceres PIC general manager Alexandre Furtado Rosa. “The maternal part can replace a herd capable of producing 3.4 million pigs per year, but the other part is much stronger. The male genetics could impact 30%, or nearly one-third, of our industry.”

50% market share

A joint venture made up 51% by Brazilian company Agroceres and 49% PIC, the breeding company already has a 50% market share for replacement gilts in Brazil and 68% of the pig Artificial Insemination market. It also operates in Argentina, where it enjoys similar figures.

Import of PIC pigs

“We import PIC stock four to five times a year and multiply here,” Furtado Rosa says. “We supply the Brazilian market, which has about 1.8 million sows, and the Argentinian market that is much smaller with about 200,000 sows.”

Multiplier for Agroceres PIC

The new Santa Cecilia pig farm has been built by Copercampos, a farming co-op with a total of 15,000 sows that has been operating as a multiplier for Agroceres PIC for 22 years. The co-op is responsible for the building and running costs, but all the stock for the new operation will be supplied by Agroceres PIC.

Copercampos began working with the breeding company in the late 1990s when it started farming pigs for the first time by opening a 3,200-sow multiplier unit, and it later added another 5,500-sow multiplication farm that remains the largest the co-op operates.

Lucio Marsal

Increased welfare and better production results

The pig production manager at Copercampos is Lucio Marsal, who has been involved with the co-op’s pig enterprise from the start and was promoted to his current position in 2002.

Co-op with 1,200 members

“Copercampos was formed in 1970 by 100 producers,” he says. “They started because the region concentrated on cattle production and they needed storage facilities for wheat and formed the co-op to build a grain store. It has now grown to 1,200 members and annual revenues of about 375 million euros.”

Grain is currently the co-op’s top revenue source and supplying seed is second, but pigs now make up the third largest cash stream for the business.

Nedap ESF

It was Marsal who made the decision to go for group housing and to install Nedap’s ESF system and other European-developed technology in the new 1,500-sow unit.

“I have traveled a lot, to Germany, Spain, the US and Argentina, and have seen group housing systems,” he says. “More and more countries are going to ask for better welfare, so I convinced the board to invest in that if they wanted to keep access to export markets – otherwise, in the future, we are going to have only the national internal markets.

Best solution

“I opted for ESFs because I have seen them used in most places I have visited and it is the best solution for us and the market.”

Improved welfare

While improved welfare was the primary reason for the move to group sow housing, Marsal is also looking for reduced labor costs.

Reduced labor costs

“The new facility will require less staff, but those we do employ will need more technical expertise,” he says. “It will also reduce costs because we should get better production results using ESFs and group housing, so that will increase our efficiency.”

If everything goes to plan, Marsal says the Copercampos investment in the new multiplication facility will be paid for itself in less than ten years.

Rafael Lazari

Better sow condition, more milk, better piglets

The manager of the new Copercampos farm is Rafael Lazari, who joined the project in the middle of 2016 during the planning phase. He will have a team of 12 to 15 staff to run the unit when it is running at full capacity.

Lazari has experience of working at the co-op’s 5,500-sow unit and is looking forward to managing the new operation, which he says has 15 ESF stations, 2 training stations, 3 heat detection and 3 separation units – all supplied by Nedap. All equipment was successfully installed by the Nedap distributor and service company Novagri. They are based not only in Brazil, but also in countries such as Chili (head quarter), Columbia, Peru and Argentina.

Eduardo de la Maza, director at Novagri says: “For us, this project is vital because it reflexes our vision that South America, and especially Brazil, has great conditions to feed the world with animal protein. And accomplish our mission to bring to high-level technologies to these countries that add value, as Nedap equipment, which increases the competitivity of our customers for the future.”

Alfredo Lima de Castro, general manager Brazil at Novagri: “To develop this project we previously visited different farms with ESF Nedap technology. We developed a long-term planning with Copercampos professionals to evaluate different technical, economic and project options and trained the farm manager in the Nedap head office in the Netherlands and at the farm. Also, we have an expertise Service Team trained by Nedap to provide technical service for customers in Brazil. All of this with the objective to answer the confidence of Copercampos in Novagri and that its investment is successful.”

Easier day-to-day management

“I am expecting better results in terms of production, but my biggest expectation is that it will save labor,” Lazari says. “The day-to-day management will be easier, which will leave more time for concentrating on other tasks.”

Optimum milk production

In particular, Lazari is looking forward to putting much more effort into the farrowing section and managing the sows for optimum milk production.

Better sow condition

“This is one of the critical parts of the farm,” Lazari says. “It is very important to make sure the sows are eating, and also how much they are eating. Better condition and more milk will result in better piglets, and that is one of the big benefits I see from using ESFs.”

Dynamic groups

The new farm will operate with dynamic groups in group housing. The farm is feeding just one diet through the ESFs, although the farm’s nutritionist is working on different rations for each line and these will be introduced in the future.

Alexandre Furtado Rosa

"The new Copercampos ESF farm is an impressive unit"

Alexandre Furtado Rosa at Agroceres PIC says he is very impressed by the new Copercampos multiplication unit.

“For us, the nice thing about this farm is it is the first brand new multiplier built from scratch with ESFs, with wean to finish, total environment control and all the things we have been talking about for so many years, like moving to 100% slats,” he adds.

Breakthrough in technology

“It is only in the past three years that we have seen a breakthrough in technology regarding environmental control in Brazil. People are starting to think about air filtering, health barriers, biosecurity on a more thorough level, so it is exciting to see this farm put these features in place.”

Brazilian pig sector is developing fast

Furtado Rosa says the country’s pig sector is developing fast, partly because labor has become more expensive in Brazil. Although feed still represents almost 70% of total production costs.

Better environment for sows

“It is one of the things that happens when a country is developing,” he adds. “You get scarcity of labor and it gets more expensive, So then producers have to be more creative about how to deal with that. The other thing we always say is that while it is not so difficult to jump from 25 to 28 pigs per sow per year, to get beyond that level, and stay there, you definitely need a better environment for the sows, especially in a tropical country like Brazil.”

More piglets per sow

Despite these challenges, the country has improved from an average production level of 23 pigs per sow per year ten years ago to about 26.5 now, and slaughter weights are going up as well.

Better quality pigs

“We do not need more pigs, but we need better quality pigs as a breeding stock,” Furtado Rosa says. “We will produce about 35 million pigs this year with the same number of sows we had six or seven years ago. That represents an impressive improvement.”

Heat detection accuracy of 99%

Automatic heat detection helps maximise the bottom line

The new unit at Santa Catarina will feature three of Nedap’s Heat Detection stations in a bid to minimize non-productive days. These standalone, enclosed boar stations use RFID technology to find sows in heat automatically within group gestation pens.

The Nedap Heat Detection stations record behavior in the sows that indicate if they are in heat. The Nedap gestation pen design brings all sows in contact with a boar on a consistent basis. The boar is enclosed in the station with only nose-to-nose access possible with the sow through a small opening, but this provides adequate pheromonal stimulation to trigger heat behavior if the sow is in estrous.

The pen prevents potentially unsafe contact between the boar, the sows and farm employees. Nedap’s RFID technology identifies a sow when she interacts with the boar. It records the length of time the sow spends interacting, as well as the number of times she does so. The Nedap platform uses the data to calculate the sow’s heat reference value (HRV).

When the sow’s HRV indicates she is in heat, the system paint-marks her for easy visual identification and alerts the barn manager via electronic message. The Copercampos farm in Santa Cecilia also uses Nedap ESF with Central Separation, so the system automatically separates the sow from the group the next time she comes through a feeding station.

With a heat detection accuracy of 99%, the Nedap Heat Detection system supports improved ROI because sows spend fewer days open. It will also prevent open sows entering the farrowing room, eliminates the need to walk the boar and increases safety for people and pigs because the boar remains in an enclosed pen.