How do you keep track of all of the pigs?

Ray Rankin, Eastern Allamakee Agriculture/Industrial Technology teacher, is interning for six weeks at Gruber Ridge Ag located outside of Lansing, Iowa which is a 2,500 head sow farm managed by Waukon Feed Ranch.  When asked why he wanted to work at a pig farm Mr. Rankin said, "I have zero experience with swine, and since Iowa is the nation's leader in swine production I wanted to learn some things about it that I could take back to my classroom to share with my students.  What better way than hands on!" 

This week, I learned about the codes and organization of the barn.  An example is when we tattoo piglets we tattoo them with a clamp style tattoo in their ear and the tattoo has a number such as IATNY6.  The IA represents the state the piglets are born in.  The next two letters are the barn code the piglets are born at, for example TN is the barn code for Gruber Ridge Farms.  The last two represent the week and day it is born.  Last week all the piglets born would be born during week Y and the 6 means it was born on Saturday.  Day 1 is Monday, Day 2 is Tuesday and so on. I also learned about how the "G" barn or gestation barn works and the rotation of the sows and gilts and how the "snake" system works in the "G" barn to keep sows moving throughout their gestation cycle.

I also learned about early weaning sows and how they do it and determine it.  So if a sow's litter isn't doing well or if she isn't doing well they will take a sow that has just farrowed (had baby piglets) and put her with the bad sow's piglets.  Usually they will use a sow that is on their 3rd to 5th litter and a proven good mom with a good utter. 

To determine how many early wean sows they will have they count the number of piglets born and the number of litters and average them out so they will have 14 piglets per sow.

An example from the other day was:

268 piglets born from 21 litters so that would be 12.7 piglets per litter

268/20 would be 13.4 piglets per litter

268/19 would be 14.1 piglets per litter.

So 21 litters born on this day and to get to 14 piglets per sow they will early wean 2 sows today.  If they don't do this the sows utters will dry up and never be good again. So they are doing this for the sows benefit so she continues to support as many piglets as possible for future litters.  This also benefits the older piglets who's mother has slowed down in milk production and may not be doing as well so they will get the milk from a sow that has just farrowed and get a fresh start.


As you can see, I am learning a lot and really starting to get a better understanding of many of the practices in the farm!