Electronic Sow Feeding

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ESF Walkway Layout

Positioning Compident ESF stations on walkways simplifies sow introduction and registration, and provides access to the units for service.

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Laying Areas

Laying areas, divided by partitions, provide sow comfort and protection and decrease aggression while promoting a stable group hierarchy.

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Typical post-implantation layout with static groups

Group is constituted once, social hierarchy stabilizes, and the group is left intact for the duration of gestation. The goal is to have one week's breeding (or a fraction of that week's breeding) in a larger sow unit to be used to constitute a static group. The advantage of this approach is that the breeding group stays physically intact much as it would in a crated facility. However, static groups can create challenges in space utilization, resulting in increased facility cost or decreased sow inventory. Static groups are an “all in / all out” system that requires additional barn spaces in reserve to allow for animal movement. In reality, very few gestation groups are truly static as some sows will drop out due to pregnancy loss, injury or death. This leads to suboptimal utilization of pen space by the end of the gestation period because sows removed from the group cannot be replaced. Alternatively, one can attempt to anticipate this fall-out by overstocking the pen initially which can result in a less than ideal per sow space allotment.

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Typical pre-implantation layout with large dynamic groups

Group constituency is constantly changing. Dynamic groups are essentially a “continuous flow” system which allows space utilization to be optimized in each pen. Weekly breeding groups are subdivided with animals being introduced into a number of different pens optimizing the space utilization in each pen. This approach works well with large group sizes and can also be used to optimize feed station utilization in sow units with smaller breeding groups. Social disruption and associated fighting is minimal in large groups and any repeat breeders can simply be re-bred and left in the same pen. It is not necessary to maintain the integrity of the breeding group because the computer system will track the location and monitor the status of animals regardless of their location. The feeding station can be used to sort or mark the sows for scheduled management activities as a group regardless of in which pen the sows are located. The flexibility in animal movement and the ability to achieve optimum space utilization in all pens makes dynamic groups an attractive solution for many herds.

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Optional layout for large dynamic groups