Growing up we can all remember those times when your mother yelled at you “stop eating like a pig”. Although she may have been referring to the mess you were making, pig farmers like me know exactly what it takes to eat like one.
Pig feed is one of the most important aspects of a hog operation. On my farm we make our own feed to ensure high quality products are being fed to keep our animals healthy and happy. With the help of a professional swine nutritionist, we are able to make custom recipes (rations), including exactly what the pigs need at each growth stage.
The ingredients my farm uses to make feed are all sourced in Ontario. The main ingredients included in our pig feed are corn, soybean meal and a premix which is specially formulated with vitamins and minerals to meet all of the needs of the pigs at each of their specific growth stages. Depending on what age of animals the feed is going to, our farm may also include soy hulls, wheat shorts, dried distiller grains with solubles, bakery meal, and roasted soybeans.
|Corn||Grown on our own fields or neighbours fields|
|Soybean Meal||Hamilton, a byproduct of crushing soybeans for oil|
|Premix||Cambridge and Exeter, specifically formulated for each growth stage|
|Soy Hulls||Hamilton, skin of the soybeans after crushing for oil|
|Wheat Shorts||Mississauga, byproduct from flour mills|
|Dried Distiller Grains with Solubles||Alymer, byproduct of ethanol plant|
|Bakery Meal||St. Petersberg, byproduct from donuts, buns, cookies, timbits etc. that do not meet the requirements for human consumption|
|Roasted Soybeans||Grown on our own fields, roasted as pigs cannot digest them raw|
Our farm makes feed 2-3 times a week with an automated system. To make feed we first log-on to our computer feed mixer program and put in an order by telling it how much feed we want made. The computer figures out how many batches of feed it needs to blend to make the total amount needed. After the order is planned, we hit the send button and the feed system starts.
The ingredients are held in separate bins and are automatically weighed by the computer as they get augured into the mixer which can hold up to 2000kg at one time. Before the corn and roasted soybeans are added to the mixer, they get ground by the hammer mill. This increases the surface area and allows for better digestion by the pig. Once each ingredient is added, the mixer will mix for 2 minutes to ensure everything is blended. After fully mixed, the feed goes to a storage bin which allows for the next batch to start.
Once the computer has completed the order and all the feed is in the overhead storage bin we load our feed truck.
We back the truck under the bin and open a slide and the feed falls in.
This truck will haul the load to one of our farms and unload it with a pneumatic blower into an unloading pipe which goes into the feed bin.
There is a feed auger that goes from the feed bin and fills the feeders in the barn. The auger is on a timer and runs three times a day. When the feed fills the last feeder up, a sensor turns the auger off. The pigs eat from the opening at the bottom of the feeder. They also can grab a drink of water while they are there.
So there we have it folks, an overview of the processing of making feed, delivering it and feeding to the pigs. I hope you learned a thing or two from it. Feel free to ask any questions.
It is a job that needs to be done at least twice a day, every day, so it has to be done well. (some farms even do it three times a day) Here are the steps we go through to milk our cows.
Step one: Get your dip to clean each of the four teats & then get a paper towel.
This box takes a spin around the barn every time we milk, holding the clean paper towels. Using the dipper hanging from the side, we coat the teat in a disinfecting iodine solution. After waiting 15 or 30 seconds we wipe the solution clean.
Step Two: Check the milk.
Before we place the milking unit on, we want to check to make sure the milk quality is exactly as it was 12 hours ago. If we ever see something abnormal, the cow is milked into a bucket until we figure out what might be wrong. To find abnormal milk isn’t common & not the case here – so on goes the milker!
Step 3: Milkers On.
With the teats clean and the milk quality good, this milking unit is put on. A soft suction keeps it from falling off, while it gently squeezes the teats making a similar action to what you & I would have to do if we were milking her by hand. (Start at the top of the teat near the udder, gently squeeze, and pull down to the bottom of the teat)
Step 4: Wait for her to finish & then give a final dip.
Each of our milking units record how much milk flows through, and at what rate. That way, when the cow is finished it can pull the milking unit off automatically so as to not over milk the cow. When this is finished, we come along with another iodine based solution that will coat each teat again to protect against bacteria for the next 12 hours before we start the job all over again!
All of this needs to be done with calmly & patiently as cows have the ability to hold their milk. If they aren’t comfortable – they won’t give their milk. Luckily, they are quite happy with our twice-daily routine and milk flows freely! Celine chews her cud while she is milked. (an action required by cows to digest their food – something they do several hours a day)