Who?

Todd Papenberg

Owner

Where?

Waterloo, Illinois, U.S.A.

About the farm

  • Finishing operation
  • Two pens of 600 pigs
  • Multi-generational farm

Nedap solutions

Nedap PorkSense

Results

Efficient, consistent growth
Precise individual feeding for specific body weights and performance levels
Labor efficiency
Easy-to-use technology reduces time and labor to sort and load pigs
Calm pigs
Design enhances animal movement and flow

Consistently productive pigs

Illinois producer gains labor efficiency and pig productivity with PorkTuner

The Nedap PorkTuner automated sorting scale helps Illinois pig farmer Todd Papenberg increase animal productivity, lower labor needs and keeps his facility operating at peak efficiency. Papenberg finishes pigs in a 240-feet by 40-feet, 1,200-head barn built in 1998 and raises about 580 acres of corn and soybeans.

“I was introduced to Nedap PorkTuner after touring a sow facility with automated Nedap technology,” he says. “I was amazed and impressed by the ease of handling and animal behavior – the pigs were so calm. I thought at the time, ‘This is something I need to look into to try on the finishing end.’”

The use of Nedap PorkTuner technology came up during potential contract discussions with the sow farm he partners with. After meeting with the Nedap team and learning more, Papenberg decided to invest in the automated sorting scales in September 2019 and began finishing pigs under his current contract in 2020.
In addition to his current barn, he had been using a couple of smaller, older facilities owned by his dad to finish pigs. In 2019, he decided to condense his operation to a single site with updated facilities. “It was time to stop throwing money at the older buildings,” says Papenberg.
“I decided to invest in a barn with a lot of life left in it. I installed two Nedap PorkTuners to keep the barn efficient – without having to hire labor.”

Nedap makes it a seamless transition for pigs and people

Nedap automated sorting scales fine-tune finishing pig management. Producers can feed pigs based on individual weights to maximize feed efficiency, finish more consistent groups, manage shipping and save labor costs.
Before installing the Nedap PorkTuner units, Papenberg’s barn was divided into 48 pens. Currently, the facility houses two large pens that hold about 600 pigs per pen. Each pen includes a PorkTuner unit.
“The units are set up at the entrance to the food courts, where pigs have to walk through,” says Papenberg. “The scale weighs them daily, gathers data and then sends them left or right depending on how much they weigh.”
Precise feeding and delivery schedules have resulted in big improvements in pig value. According to recent packer reports, pigs raised by Papenberg using Nedap PorkTuner technology netted a 3.2% increase in value per pig. That increase adds $6.36 more per pig versus the current market value.

Acclimating pigs to the sorters was a smooth and easy process that improved animal management and reduced labor needs.
“In the previous setup, it was more difficult to observe pigs across all the pens,” says Papenberg.
“Now, you walk through one large pen at a time. After the pigs eat, they can exit the food court and go back to the pen with the rest of their herd mates on the same ration. You can easily observe them and get a handle on how they’re doing. That’s a big deal. Plus, pigs get used to being in large areas. They don’t crowd. And that’s easier on your equipment, too.
The ease of handling and change in animal behavior are the things I’m most impressed with.”
He adds, “I would’ve never thought, looking back 20 years ago, my barn would look like it does now. It’s unbelievable how the hog industry has changed.”

PorkTuner improves pig performance

Numbers count during the finishing phase. Nedap automated sorting scale technology makes data available in real-time to help continuously improve feed strategy, health management and logistics planning.
Papenberg’s pigs are averaging 2 to 2.1 pounds of gain per day after installing the technology.
“Those gains are just amazing to me,” says Papenberg. “I could never do that in my old barn. When sorting with the Nedap PorkTuner, the pigs that are always going to the feeder are the same size. Pigs aren’t getting pushed back, and you don’t have a mix of little and big animals.Continuous growth data collection allows for accurate weight forecasting. And accurate forecasts help Papenberg plan deliveries and transport as much as four weeks in advance. When a pig reaches market weight, the Nedap PorkTuner automatically cuts it from the group by directing it to a delivery section. Knowing how many head will be ready on a specific day enables producers to plan and schedule hauling and packer logistics.

“The neatest thing about the system is that it tells you when you’ll be ready to deliver hogs,” says Papenberg. “The forecast data gives you the approximate shipping dates and weights as pigs grow. When you’re ready, you can tell the system to sort for 170 hogs at 280 pounds, and the unit goes into delivery mode. Those pigs will be ready to load the next morning.”
Additionally, constant, accurate data collection reduces Papenberg’s feed costs and packer penalties for overweight pigs. He isn’t spending feed dollars on pigs that exceed the desired market size or remain in finishing facilities longer than necessary. “You don’t have 300-pound pigs mixed in your pen of 285-pound pigs, so there’s no extra feed cost from taking pigs too big,” says Todd. “Monitoring weights every time pigs cross the scale means you know what’s happening day-to-day.”

Nedap saves labor

Papenberg runs his finishing facility without any additional labor. The automated sorting scale technology means he can handle pigs safely and easily.
“When we’re loading the hogs after they’ve been sorted through the PorkTuner, it takes a truck driver and me maybe 45 to 50 minutes to load 170 hogs,” says Papenberg.
While he currently has no plans to expand, the ability to more easily handle pigs means Papenberg can consider his business future without labor limitations.
“Nedap PorkTuner would enable me to move forward without having any additional labor costs,” he says. “If I ever expanded, Nedap PorkTuner would definitely be part of the next building, no doubt in my mind.”

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