In 2009, two brothers, Tomas and Enrique Iniesta, began the construction of two new farms near Utiel, Valencia, Spain: Magropor Farm, with 1,400 sows and Vereda de San Marco Farm with 2,500 sows. Both farms are farrow-to-wean operations and are operated under the umbrella of Agroturia, in the Vall Companys Group.
The Iniestas began designing their barns with the goal of meeting new welfare regulations for group sow gestation and quickly realized the best feeding option for their management style was electronic sow feeders. The brothers have been caring for pigs for many years, and the advantages of electronic sow feeding (ESF), including the ability to care for individual sows within groups, was something they wanted to take advantage of from the beginning.
The Iniestas worked with Nedap Livestock Management equipment dealer EXAFAN, who helped design the facility as a “turnkey” project, meaning they designed a new barn, including all the feeding equipment, climate control system and other tools from the ground up. EXAFAN recommended the Nedap ESF system to the Iniestas because the advanced management and feeding system could help them meet their current and future production goals with little need for equipment maintenance.
Static and dynamic groups
Magropor and Vereda chose different systems for creating sow groups within gestation pens because the two farms have different numbers of sows and farrowing schedules.
Magropor, with 1,400 sows, uses static groups for the multiparous sows and dynamic groups with three feeding stations for gilts.
On the other hand, Vereda, with 2,500 sows, uses static groups of 55 sows. To minimize aggression when mixing gilts and older sows, the farm’s strategy is to move the gilts into the pens 3-4 days before introducing the multiparous sows. The combination of carefully managed groups and pens designed to minimize sow aggression are supporting a calm, peaceful atmosphere at the Iniestas’ farms.
Automated sow feeding can improve farm efficiency, but the Iniestas emphasize the importance of observing sows daily. On the Magropor and Vereda farms, employees check sows daily, including manually getting sows up.
The Nedap Electronic Sow Feeding system can help employees to monitor sows recognizes changes in behavior that could indicate illness. For example, when a sow has eaten less than she should have, the system alerts barn management. Managers can be notified if any sows didn’t eat their daily ration, if they didn’t finish their daily ration or if any sows are showing early signs of heat. The system also notifies producers if any sows lose their RFID ear tags.
Consistent sow body condition – despite different genetics
Both farms have been through changes in terms of the genetics including changes in suppliers and changes within genetics companies. This has left the farm with the challenge of feeding different types of animals at the same time. In the Vereda case, the farm is currently working with three different genetic lines, not to mention the differences in age, parity and body condition of sows. In this situation, the Nedap ESF system allows management to adjust the feed for every animal depending on her needs. A tour through the barn with a look at the consistency of the sow body condition shows how Nedap ESF is helping the operation achieve this goal.
Learn more about electronic sow feeding