The Real P3 & Porcast – Piglet Crushing
In this episode, we have the opportunity to have a joint episode with JP Martineau and Louis-Philippe Roy from Porcast. Louis is a pork producer in Quebec Canada. We discuss how Louis’s farm solved their problems with piglet crushing and day 1 pig care without high-tech ideas during the conversation. Learn how 24-hour care makes a huge difference and enjoy some laughs along the way.
Hello there. This is Dr. Casey Bradley, and you’re listening to The Real P3 podcast, a podcast dedicated to the real pork producers around the world. I hope you enjoy.
So, there’s a new podcast out there on Facebook Live called Porcast. It’s done by JP Martineau and Louis-Philippe Roy from Quebec, Canada. They have interviews in French and are also starting interviews in English. They have a unique concept where you can see live action videos and they talk about the different problems and techniques that you need to work on in pork production systems. So, I thought it would be really great to have these two guys on The Real P3. We’re gonna have a lot of fun, because if you haven’t checked them out yet, there’s a lot of laughing and a lot of joking around, but in all seriousness, some really great advice from a seasoned nutritionist and a pork producer from Quebec, Canada. So, stay tuned.
C: Well, hello, how are you guys doing tonight?
L: Great, great.
JP: Cool, very good.
C: Would you mind introducing yourselves for our audience?
L: Yeah, I’ll go first. Louis-Philippe Roy, I’m a pork producer in Quebec, Canada. I have a small farm. In Quebec, the farms are smaller than the US. We have 200 sows farrow-to-finish. We sell our hogs to Olymel. We’ve got 2 employees, one from Quebec, but another from Guatemala. I’m the host of the Porcast show we created a couple months ago.
JP: Yeah, just to finish on that part, the Porcast can be found on Facebook. We’ve got the French versions, French episodes and English episodes, so yeah. We started that in October. Please go ahead and go see our show. It’s very instructive on mostly techniques and where [things are] challenging on the farm. That’s where we got to know about Casey. She saw our show and that’s where we got in contact. It’s great to be here tonight. For my part, I’m Jean-Philippe Martineau. I’m a swine nutritionist for Nutrition Natinale in Quebec. We are also involved in the nutrition across Canada. We oversee pretty much 30% of the swine in Canada that we’re involved with, directly and indirectly. Our company does lots of research and all. Glad to be on the show.
L: First, we are friends. We are doing business together, but we are close friends, too, so that’s helpful on the show, too.
C: Well, I can tell you two are friends. You have too much fun talking to each other about pigs. [laughter] [03:00]
L: We’ve got the same passion in and we always, always talk about pigs. But, you know, Saturday, we went to JP’s sugar shack, and we didn’t speak about pigs. It was the first time, I think!
JP: Yeah, it was weird, actually. I don’t think we’re gonna do that again. [laughter] Alright…
C: Awesome. So, today we’re gonna talk about – obviously, we have two nutritionists and a pig producer, so this could be scary.
JP: Just one, oh ok for yours… oh yeah.
C: So, we’re gonna focus more on the farrowing house and early pig care and crushing, because I think you guys have got some unique stories to talk to us. Louis, explain how you manage to start out and some of the problems. Then JP can step in and talk about how he helped you through those problems.
L: Ok. First, we started working together about 2 years ago. The problem we got at the time was pig crushing. Like 50% of the mortality was pig crushing. So, when JP came, the first thing he saw was the lamp, you know the heat lamp. We had the Niche. It was not at the right place, so we started by moving this. We got great results, but not great like…
JP: It was not perfect yet.
L: It was not perfect. So that was the first thing we started working on together. After months and after years, we looked at other stuff and we changed the niche and got a nest for the piglets. The first thing on the steps from my point of view, for producer-view, was the importance of where’s the piglet going to be when the sow is going to be hot. [05:00] That was the key for the crushing – for finding out why the piglets are crushed by the sow. We just placed plastic board on the side of the crate, and that was like…
JP: The feeder, the crate. Between the feeder and the crate, we have about a foot and a half. That divider really helped the sows to reduce the… Like we think it is not accurate size; it was a lot of try and error.
C: Trial and error [laughter]
L: We just looked at how the piglets were acting…
JP: It’s about the air-flow, eh. So, we felt like adding that extra board right next to the feeder to attract the piglets into that niche really helped us a lot. It is just so that we feel like now that we’ve found a way to get really the piglets attracted to that corner, we know that when you walk through the farrowing room, all piglets need to be either protected in that zone or drinking milk. Otherwise, there’s an opportunity to do better with that niche. Plastic is not that expensive yet – I’m saying yet, because everything is just so expensive today, eh! Plug that in, man it’s expensive. But plastic is not that much, so we basically took some plastic you had in your garage, right? So look around and just see if you’ve got the material already, and add that extra board. See how you can protect piglets from the air-flows until you figure it out. Because if you’re walking through your crates and piglets are not protected, the chance is they’ll get crushed.
L: Yeah, because we’ve got an old barn. We have a crate. The floor is concrete, like 70% of the floor is concrete. So, we always say, the problem we’ve got is the concrete. When we start thinking a different way, we said no, today the problem is not the equipment; it’s not the crate, it’s not the concrete; the problem was where the piglets are going to lay down and where they won’t be protected from the sow. That’s the important thing we found.
JP: Yeah, this is common, eh. Some of my customers think once they get a brand-new barn, all the problems will be gone! [laughter]
C: You just get new problems! [laughter]
L: No… no. [laughter]
JP: It’s not the case. Louis, your barn is probably one of the worst, right?
L: [laughing] No! [laughing] It’s an old barn.
JP: It’s in good shape, but nothing is high-tech. It’s all very ordinary. Something that every producer has; either something equivalent or even better, right? Last batch, how many piglets did you get crushed?
L: We got 4 piglets from 40 sow crushed. We started doing night shift. We were doing night shift, but not completely, maybe 2 hours, and mostly me and my wife in 2 hour shifts. But now we are doing 24-hour around the clock shift, and that’s changed everything. The first day of farrow, we start on Wednesday morning. We are in the barn, my employees left the barn on Saturday, so Wednesday to Saturday, we’ve got people in the barn to watch the sow farrow. But always the piglets may lay down under the sow, so everyone’s got to watch those piglets and clear them under the sow, to be sure we don’t have piglets going to be crushed by the sow.
C: So, are you batch farrowing then, I guess?
L: Yeah, batch farrowing, 4 a week.
JP: So yeah, what we recommend now is, when it’s possible, there’s a big monetary opportunity to have no crushed pigs or basically close to none, and so we feel like it’s very necessary to have someone at all times in the sow barn. A ratio that we could recommend is probably 1 per 60 or 1 per 70 sows.
L: It depends. I don’t remember the name of the girl who presented to the PIC Road show, but she said if you don’t have 15-20 minutes to do a check on all the sows, you need more employees; you are looking over too many sows. So, we look for having 1 per 10 sows.
JP: Ten sows that are farrowing.
L: Yeah, so for 24 hours, it’s important. So, we’ll do a great job in 24 hours, but the next 24 hours is important, too.
C: For me 72 hours for the crushing.
L: Yeah, 72.
JP: So, most people stop doing their tours of night shift once the farrowings are done. But they should continue at least 2 more days after; that’s when the crushing happens. So, you need to continue to have a night shift, at least 48 hours after she’s done farrowing and almost 72 hours. You need to save how many piglets to pay your night shift, probably 1 piglet each. Is that a possibility? I think so. If your guy’s not able to save one piglet in his night, I’m pretty sure he will, so there’s a payback.
L: Sometimes it’s just to clear those piglets under the sow. It’s that, you know? Sometimes my wife just writes down on paper, “This sow is up” and ok, so she’s watching the farrowing room, so “she’s down” so she’s counting the piglets, ok she’s got 15, ok, so leave this sow alone. Seriously for us, it was the key to our success, is just being in the barn. I saw – you may know Dr Coleman, he’s a vet, he was working for Thomas Livestock – you know that farm? Larry Coleman.
JP: Louis’ a big fan of Thomas Livestock. He can’t do one episode without talking Thomas Livestock. [laughter]
L: Larry Coleman did a webinar and he said, “We don’t want to have new technology in the farrowing room. You have to put people in those barns to watch for the piglets.” He’s right. We are just a copy of what Thomas Livestock was doing. We just all copy Thomas Livestock and the PIC guidelines, and we just put it in place. So, we didn’t invite new stuff. We don’t have like the special bottles to give to those sows, but we just do our time in those barns and just work.
JP: The payback is there, right? Cause the piglets that we save are not low-quality piglets. The crushed piglets are…
C: They’re your good pigs.
L: Sometimes it’s the bigger pigs.
JP: Yeah, it’s any pig, but if they’re alive after 24-48 hours for sure you’re wanting, it’s because you made the decision already that they’re a good, viable piglet. That’s why I feel like those… You’re almost saving one extra piglet per crate, and that’s why since we solved that issue, you’re weaning probably 1 piglet over the average if not more. You’re weaning what, 13?
L: Last batch, we weaned 13.4… 37 exactly.
JP: 37. So if you do that 13 times in a row, that’s 37 per sow.
L: 37 per sow?
C: I was gonna say 1 pig per sow is 47.
JP: Ok, .37 you’re saving. 13.37%. How much is that?
C: $70/pig from what I’ve heard wean-pig prices. Today. I mean not all days. But we’re at gold right now.
JP: So, times 2.45, that’s an average of 32.75 piglets weaned per year, so that’s pretty good.
L: Yeah. The payback is rapid.
JP: Yeah, exactly, so that’s why we feel like people are not talking about this opportunity enough. We are talking about how can we increase total born, but you have all the piglets you need, you just need to save some and bring your pre-wean mortality lower.
L: Sometimes people say to me, “You’ve got a small farm, so you can do night shift easier.” But that’s not the issue right here. Maybe they say you’ve got a small farm, but I say, you’ve got 2000 sows, I want to do night shift for 2000 sows! When you have more sows, you can pay people to do the job!
C: Size doesn’t always matter on that.
L: No, size doesn’t matter at all! At all.
JP: You’ve gotta convince your…
C: Of all the jobs you can do all night… [laughter]
JP: I can imagine it’s hard to convince people to do the night shift, right? There needs to be some kind of profit-sharing incentive. Some kind of bonus or whatever, for sure. It’s not for everyone to do a night shift. But the payback is FOR SURE there. There needs to be some kind of mechanism for the company to give some kind of incentive to encourage people to do them. It’s just, if you’re in batch farrowing, it’s basically 4-5 days, eh, that you need to do it? Then it goes back to normal.
L: In the night shift, you do – I forgot the name/word in English – the [undetermined, possibly in French?] energy piglets,
JP: Piglet house tours, I guess?
L: Yeah, in the night shift, my wife doesn’t just look at the piglets, she’s doing jobs, too. So, when you come in the morning, you don’t like run to what sow had farrowing in the night. It’s more…
JP: It’s jobs that got done, so there’s not morning rush anymore, so you can afford to have maybe 1 less in the morning because most of the jobs already got done at night. So, you don’t necessarily need more people overall, you’re just spreading your hours differently.
L: Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
C: I was gonna say, coming from a family where my husband works the night shift. Night shifts do work for certain people. I think sometimes when I’ve heard producers talk about it, they struggle with getting that trained staff, or that supervised staff. So, it’s not only having somebody there, but having the right person there that you know is going to be responsible to do the work. Not only just watch sows, but like you said, if there’s a couple litters they can process at the same time, then they’re doing that extra work to take away from the daytime.
L: Yep. And you have employee issues everywhere in Quebec. You may have difficulty to have employees in the US. My wife is doing the night shift, so it’s easy for us, but I know for other producers, that staff, just having employees… we have an employee from Guatemala here! We always talk about night shift, me and JP, but you can use those employees who want to work, who want to do overtime. That’s easier, but you have to convince the owner that you need to start doing night shift to save the piglets.
JP: But if really the system can’t have night shift, like no one is interested let’s say, so the business decides they don’t want to, I feel like there’s a technology already out there that could be an option [laughter behind] where we could… they’re starting in Quebec to have some producers with lift crates. They’re brand new, so they’re working great. I’m not a fan of putting a whole lot of stuff that’s gonna require maintenance, but the payback seems to be there. They’re sitting at 8-9% pre-wean mortality for large farms, with a whole bunch of employees that do not have any experience. So, I feel like there’s something there. The lift crates are very popular in Europe and all, so if you’re not willing to do the night shift, evaluating how to improve your niche. If you don’t have a nice today and you already need to invest in a niche; maybe it’s something we need to at least be informed and have a look, have the data, try to get it from someone that already has it. Get some feedback that those that have had it for a couple years and have been doing their maintenance, to see if there’s something there. There’s definitely a wave of people who are talking more and more about it in Quebec.
C: So let’s talk about…
JP: I’m not sure if that’s the case in the US? Have you guys been talking more?
C: I haven’t really heard of anybody trying it. On that point of maintenance… you’ve been around these crates. When you said that, I think it’s a great idea, and a concept that works, but when they start breaking and the fixing of them… I’ve had my fair share of maintenance issues in my world, and it’s not my favorite thing to do. So how easy is it to maintain them and fix them?
JP: No idea. Knowing that it’s under a sow and all, I doubt it’s going to be fun.
C: That’s what I was thinking. I’ve spent my time, and it’s not really where I want to be.
JP: No, but if the payback is 2-3 years, imagine if they’re almost maintenance free for 5-6-7 years, then it’s done. If you say, no I don’t want to do the maintenance, well, shut them off and that’s it. You don’t have to do the maintenance; they’re already paid for double; you’ve got you rmoney already and twice. For the maintenance part in Quebec anyways, everything is brand new, too new, everyone that has them has only had them maximum 2 years, so we don’t know. I don’t have that experience yet, so we would definitely have to talk to people in Europe that have had them for several years to see on the maintenance part. But if you talk with the equipment guy, I’m sure they’ll say that there’s basically close to zero on maintenance, right?
C: Yeah, ‘It works like a train! All the time!’ Except on that Sunday afternoon when one goes down…
L: The way I see it, yeah, if lift crates can help you. But when you do night shift, like Casey said, you can do more work. So, you’re not just there to watch piglets crushing under the sow, you help the sows farrowing, you do some health issues on the sow and the piglets. That’s the way I see it. The payback for us… the first farrowing batch we did, the payback was already there.
JP: Yeah, no. There’s no investment there for sure.
L: No investment. You work with the crate you’ve got. The heat lamp. Whatever you’ve got.
C: So, let’s talk about distribution of mortality. I think there’s a way for technology to help us all in other things. So, we were 50% crushing. What is your percent crushing now? Or lay down deaths.
JP: It’s 4 out of 45 sows…
C: How much do you still lose though?
L: Pre-wean it’s like 8-10? The problem we’ve got is that we don’t have pig crushing anymore, but all the small piglets who were there when all the bigger piglets was crushing, was just [22:00] moved the problem. We’ve got lots of mortality on the smaller piglets now.
JP: We did move completely the [crushing] problem. I think that’s false. We’re still weaning more piglets.
L: Yeah, we’re weaning more pigs, but we’ve got I think in farrowing batch, the goal for the mortality is I think 8%. It’s the best you can do in 4-week farrowing batch. It’s the target we want. The average I got for last year was 10.2 I think. We just want to try to save those .2% piglets. That’s what we’re trying to do right now, is to maybe focus on saving those piglets. I know you had the discussion on the show about 40 piglets per sow they do in Denmark. We started thinking about that. We don’t use milk in crate.
JP: I think that’s our weak part in Canada/Quebec. I think Europe is way more advanced compared to us on that part, but I think we don’t have that much knowledge, equipment or experience with milk-supplementation. I wonder if it’s even a way we should go to, right? Should we be using milk? Or is there something different we should be doing. I don’t know.
C: Yeah, that’s the debate. My producer friend listened to this – I won’t mention the name – but he works for a pretty large system. He goes, “That sounds like a pretty cool idea.” I went to Denmark and saw every crate had a milk cup. A little different than what we run. To me, it looks like less mess, less waste. But when I worked for New Fashion Pork – this is 20 years ago – we put one of the first milk systems in. When we implemented it, it was a complete disaster.
JP: Yeah, we had the same experience by the way.
C: We just pushed the problems down to the nursery. Pigs were not doing well. Things like that. You talk to Paul Faris, he did the milk deck. When he worked for Cargill, he implemented that system really well in the batch farrowing and the milk decks. That kind of system, to me, for batch farrowing works really well. But it all goes back to that people management. We talked about how we don’t want to do night shift because we don’t have enough employees; we don’t want to do this… I had a conversation today: Is it really the number of employees, or is it the ability to want to improve? So, obviously you fixed one problem, now you have another one, so start thinking about new strategies and I think learning from the Europeans as you said, either from the raising decks (lift crates) or what-not. They’re good to learn from, but I think to get to 40 pigs per sow like those guys, saving more pigs, this liquid feeding system needs to be probably reconsidered in the US and Canada.
JP: Yeah, but I’m just wondering at what point it’ll make sense, right? Cause the sow can still take it. The sow [25:00] today can wean 14-15 already, right? It’s just the average is not there. So, that’s where we need to pay attention when we receive gilts that all our sows have at least that, but then the majority having 16, exactly. But it needs to be there. The discussion needs to be on the nucleus side where they can do the selection more aggressively, so we can get there. Let’s not forget that it’s not the milking ability of the sow today. Let’s not try to invest in all this equipment and get the milk in and all. Let’s just do a better job selecting our sows. Yeah, it’s gonna be hard for genetic companies, I guess, but it would be very helpful to get it done once and for all. A bit like they did a couple years ago when they found that smaller piglets born was an issue. They cleaned that up, and it’s pretty gone. Not sure about the US, but in Canada right now I don’t see smaller piglets being born anymore. It seems to be solved. They got a handle of it and they got it taken care of.
C: I think if you listened to Pieter, he said he’s selecting his own. He does rotational breeding, so he’s selecting the sows that have the big uniform pigs. He’s selecting on that criterion and fixing it. I don’t know if it’s all the milk system. We can sit down and ask does he really need the milk or does his genetic selection solving it.
So, we want to take this break to thank our sponsors, The Sunswine Group, Nutrasign, Swine Nutrition Management, and Pig Progress. But we also wanted to remind you of our new Facebook group the Global Swine Professionals. We’re going to be doing something fun: some live interviews, some q&a, and we just want to hear from our audience. So that’s a great place for you to take the time, leave us a comment, tell us what you want to hear, or volunteer to be on our show, because we’re always looking fro those awesome pork producers around the world. Well that’s all I had, so let’s get back to our appisode.
L: From my point of view as a producer, we had the discussion last week, me and JP, and I had the same discussion with PIC on gilts, and we said ok, let’s focus on the gilt first and stop focusing on the milk stuff. Having 16 tits on those gilts in pork, and if you want to wean 14, you have to have 16. The second thing we discussed was ok, can we feed those gilts better? Can we just focus on that and try to find different ways to feed those gilts to be sure when they got their first farrow, they will be like at the top, they will wean 16, and we know in the future they will wean the average 14. After we don’t wean 14, maybe use some milk, but trying to focus on the gilt first.
C: That takes us back to a great debate, too, of do we really need to have 20 pigs born per sow per litter? Do we focus on high quality pigs, get the gilts brought up to speed, the genetics?
L: How do you know those pigs feed with milk? How they grow in the finishing barn, too. If you want grow fast, I don’t know, I have never used milk, so I don’t know how the piglets are growing in the finishing barn, but I was thinking that if they used milk in those crates and go in the finishing barn, they’d be like not strong, but they would grow not faster. We want to grow those piglets faster, those pork faster.
JP: I don’t know if that would make a difference.
C: I think it’s all how you do it. It’s more than just adding milk to make it right. It’s transitioning on the solid feed. Talking about gradual weaning, and that didn’t matter if it was coming from Paul Faris on our rescue deck in the US in the Cargill system (which is now JBS) or is that in Denmark where they are putting them on feed. That’s something between PED and some other things in the US, we’ve taken away creep-feeding. We run research trials and say creep feeding has no value, and I’m still a proponent of creep-feeding because you’re training that pig to eat. I don’t care if you put sow feed in that bowl, but teaching them how to eat, getting some taste pattern recognitions, things like that. I think we can do a better job of training our pigs before they go off and leave their mom.
JP: Yeah, there’s still going to be those pigs that struggle. They don’t have a nipple and all and we’re gonna lose them. That’s where I feel like I don’t know, do you think a good milk system will get that piglet to survive and have a decent wean weight?
C: My question is do you want it to survive?
JP: I think, yeah, I think we do. Because we’ve got good quality piglets born, but it’s going to be too late by the time we realize they got skinnier. To the point we won’t get them to milk. I don’t know. That’s why I think the solution is the nipple. They need… yeah, so 16 nipples.
C: We have that in human data, you know? Mother’s milk vs formula, we know there’s a value to it. I think I see a lot of people trying to also save pigs that don’t need to be saved.
JP: I know, that’s another problem. But that’s where I think…
C: I know I use to think I can save them all! [31:00] But there’s still that little stinker at the end of the period.
L: Yeah, same. When we bought the farm, my parents were not pig farmers. They were working for Olymel. Me and my wife bought the farm 8 years ago, and the first thing we put in place was giving milk to all the piglets. Three days later, they all died! We spent so much time on it, but they will die, so we stopped.
JP: It’s a waste of time! You’re better doing your normal chores to save your crushed pigs than to worry about milk.
C: Any other thoughts on crushed pigs from a nutrition perspective that you’re doing to help the sows?
JP: No, there’s nothing I do to save crushed pigs to be honest. [laughter and chatter] On the nutrition side, you’ve got to make sure to not give too many meals. Let’s try to not get the sows to get up and down too often during the day. That’ll help you out. Is there really a point of getting that much feed into the sow in the first 2-3 days anyway? So might as well give it all in 2 meals, I’d say. Then be there to supervise during times that they are on a meal period. That’s what I would say. Also, let’s try to not have them standing too long searching for feed, so if you’re in a farrowing room and there’s a sow standing up and you know she’s not gonna get more, but she’s obviously looking for more, I usually recommend to give her some feed so that she eats and lays back down, because she might (you might be surprised) stay there for 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get feed out of there and during that time, piglets will be hanging out under the udder and they will get crushed. So that’s why I recommend feeding in between meals.
C: So, what’s your thoughts on how Gestal has done the trickle-feed to get them to eat more and get up? I had the same thoughts as I can get plenty of feed in my sows giving them feed 2-3 times a day while I’m supervising when they lay back down, but…
JP: You can program your Gestal’s so you know exactly when the meal time is. You can put the strategy you want, right, with that Gestal. So, you could say the first 4 days there’s only 2 meals, and it’s at 8, let’s say, and at 3pm. Then this way you have people supervising during mealtimes. I would not recommend 8 meals with triggers and trying to stimulate feeding during those 3-4 days. There’s no point. The only advantage is creating a habit, so if you have the same cycles all over from the start, then once you want to crank the feed intake higher, then they’ll be used to having segregated meals like that, like 5-6-7 times per day and they’ll know what to do. But no, the first days there’s no point of getting that much feed in the sow anyway, so might as well control it into 2-3 meals maximum. That’s what I would do.
L: I have a Gestal! [laughter] It’s worked pretty great by the way! But we changed. We got the first Gestal and we just changed…
JP: The first version you mean?
L: The first version. Right, and we changed 2 weeks ago for the FM version, the second version. We got the trigger, and it’s completely different. The sow is always up, and I need to give more feed to the sow. It’s not working the same. It’s the same feeder, but it’s not working the same, and we’ve got to adjust.
JP: So, you’re saying that it’s stimulating the sows too much?
L: Yeah, too much.
JP: So, we’ll have to discuss about that?
L: Yeah, it’s another topic, but yeah. I never saw, in my farrowing room, all the sows up. On Friday and Saturday, they were all the time up. They need more feed. So that was new for us, to watch all the sows up and look at the sows in the barn. I don’t know. I think it’s worked great. Gestal’s a great system, but you test Gestal and Crystal-Spring feeder, and it’s all the same.
JP: For us, because we kept the two systems, just a Crystal-Spring feeder – a couple rooms on there for years, we had 5 rooms on Crystal-Spring and 5 rooms on Gestal, and I feel like if you’re feeding well, there’s no opportunity to wean heavier piglets on an automatic system. But if you’re already struggling, you’re not doing the normal work properly, especially on weekends and all, then for sure put technology in your barn and it’s going to help you out, because you’re not doing the basics. But if you’re doing everything perfectly already with a regular feeder, I don’t think there’s a huge opportunity to wean heavier pigs by adding technology because it’s quite expensive. So, you have to be sure you have a return on investment. That’s key to production.
C: So, another technology to help this crushing pig, that I don’t know the company or the name, but that little shock. The laser, the sensors. What is your thoughts on that?
JP: We tested it in our research facility. We didn’t see anything. We were not able to prove that we were saving piglets.
L: with the system. You didn’t prove anything with the tests you did. Does it work at all?
JP: Nope. There was a little bit of a glitch, too. I would have to go in a little more. I wasn’t the one supervising that trial, so it’s not fresh in my mind. I know there was a glitch and they had to fine tune a little bit there. The scream of one piglet would give your shock to two sows. It was not perfect yet, so I don’t know about the perception of giving a little shock.
C: What if you’re in the barn and you get shocked?!
JP: Plus, in batch farrowing, you need a lot of equipment and it’s not cheap! So no, maybe someone who is on a weekly basis, farrowing all the time, then maybe could make something… but still we didn’t see any improvement, so it doesn’t make sense anyhow. But no, to my knowledge, the best way to save piglets without a big investment is being in the barn. The second if you have a whole lot of money sitting around, you can look at the lift crates.
L: No way, man!
JP: I think it’s like $800 Canadian per crate, eh, so maybe $600 US. It’s a lot! You’ve gotta be sure.
L: You get different from a genetic to another. When we started 3 years ago using another genetic and those sows were like rock. They just laid down fast and on the piglets. The sow I use today, the genetic I use today is completely different!
JP: It’s because of the feed, Louis. You changed the feed!
L: No. But seriously, the difference is important. When you use a genetic and you’ve got like 14% mortality, you put lift crates in place and yeah, it’s gonna help you, but it all depends on where you start.
L: In my point of view, my barns would maybe not see any difference with lift crates. We’ll do night shift.
JP: Like with any issue. If you feel like you’re not better than the average when you compare yourself and benchmark, spend the time investigating how to change stuff in your barn. Not all barns are made the same. It’s not because we find solutions at one barn that the same solution will apply elsewhere. We won’t be able to do the exact same thing and get a replicate solution on a different barn. It’s just important to talk with your surrounding specialists you’re working with and find a way. There’s always a way, but it’s not always obvious. It might take a couple months. Keep challenging it and try stuff. You don’t need to change all crates at once. Try stuff! Have the imagination and put some time in looking at your sow. How many minutes, hours, we spent, Louis, just watching your sows! Their behavior, let’s try this and that. It’s about trying and learning. They’ll tell you, if you look at them, what’s wrong most of the time. You’ll see it with their behavior.
L: The piglets, too. That’s why we created the podcast. Just talking about pork solutions, pork techniques. What we do in my barn and what JP saw at other producers’ barns. We want those producers to listen to the show and say, Ok, yeah, we had 11 last week, I thought it was good. [laughter] I can get 12 maybe 13 someday. But that’s the reason why we started the show! We said ok, people can do better work.
JP: And vice-versa. We can hear people’s comments because they’re live also on our chat. So, we interact with them, so we see what people are concerned about, or their point of view, so it’s really helpful for us to understand that wait, that’s maybe something we need to investigate more, or no, he’s completely wrong! [laughter]
C: You’re on the same path of The Real P3. It’s like we all have the same problems. We’re just transferring knowledge, and everybody wants that magic dust, or the silver lining of everything. It comes down to, like you said, people watching their sows, watching their pigs, and I don’t know if technology ever will replace somebody who’s a good stockman.
L: I don’t know. I don’t think so. Technology will help you to understand more things, but when we talk about PCI in the last show and you have to know, for me, the best way to have good results is a producer who’s in the barn every day. Start to look at the diet of those sow. You have technology in Quebec, a main start of technology called…
JP: The machine actually looks at the behavior of the sow and knows exactly when you should breed her and give just one dose. Pigwatch, right?
L: Yeah, Pigwatch. It’s the old name, it’s the same but… The idea is great, but it’s not at the top to put money in this technology and it’s going to help me in the barn. You have to put money in employees to just be there and show what’s… pork needs passion first. That’s the first thing you need is passion. I’ve got 2 employees and it’s sometimes hard, sometimes we have to repeat, “You have to watch those sows guys! You watch those piglets!” In the finishing barn, it’s the same. “Did you check the feeder?” It’s always saying the same thing. But…
JP: But your leadership is inspiring them. When the owner is not in the barn that often, it’s hard to say stuff and have a good follow-up on the chores and all, if you’re not giving the example. The best way to convince people it’s important to do the night shift is to just do it. Do the night shift. Until they realize, well maybe it’s not a good idea that my boss is doing the night shift… “Maybe I should say I’ll do them, I understand now. I know it’s really important because you’re doing them yourself, so I’ll do that. Sorry…”
C: I purposely made sure my employees would see me power washing and doing jobs I didn’t think they wanted to do because it’s lead by example and if you’re not willing to do it, they definitely don’t want to do it. Great advice. I hope we can have you guys back on. You guys are full of knowledge and expertise. For my audience, please watch their live shows. Even in Frenchy if you can pick up a few words! I learn something and it’s enjoyable. I’m google-translating at times, and I’m like, “what’d they say?” Yeah, great work guys. I appreciate everything you’re doing, and the passion and knowledge you’re sharing with our industry. Thank you for being on our podcast.
JP: Anytime, Casey.
L: Yeah, anytime. Maybe in a year we will meet, maybe somewhere in the US.
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