Category Archives: Daily Chores

What does a pig eat?

Posted on Monday, May 2, 2016 by Drew

A well feed pig is a happy pig!

A well fed pig is a happy pig!

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.

This recipe or ration contains corn, soybean meal, canola meal and premix. The completed feed is on the right.

This recipe or ration contains corn, soybean meal, canola meal and premix. The completed feed is on the right.

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.

Ingredients are picked up by our trucker or delivered by customer trucker. The elevator leg takes it up and dumps it into their silo/bin.

Ingredients are picked up by our trucker or delivered by customer trucker. The elevator leg takes it up and dumps it into their silo/bin.

Ingredient Source
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
Each Ingredient is stored in its own silo/bin.

Each Ingredient is stored in its own silo/bin.

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 entire feed making process is all automated. This is the main control panel for everything.

The entire feed making process is all automated. This is the main control panel for everything.

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.

The batch mixer (under the frame under the augers) asks for each ingredient to be augered in one at a time.

The batch mixer (under the frame under the augers) asks for each ingredient to be augered in one at a time.

Once the computer has completed the order and all the feed is in the overhead storage bin we load our feed truck.

Back the feed truck under the bin and load up.

Back the feed truck under the bin and load up.

We back the truck under the bin and open a slide and the feed falls in.

Open a slide and the feed falls into the truck.

Filling up the feed truck.

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.

Delivering feed with our feed truck to one of our barns.

Delivering feed with our feed truck to one of our barns.

This delivery went well for me.

Thumbs up! This delivery went well for me.

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.

There is a sensor that tells the feed line when all the feeders are filled up.

There is a sensor that tells the feed line when all the feeders are filled up.

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.

 

How Do You Milk A Cow?

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2015 by Andrew

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.

GettingReadytoMilkThis 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.

Mar27Before 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.

MilkersOn

 

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.

MilkerEach 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)