"The new facility will require less staff"
Pig Production Manager
Santa Cecília, Santa Catarina, Brazil
About the farm
- 1,500 sow breeding multiplication site
- Expected annual production of 40,000 pigs
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.