Piglet Oy is a sow production company in southwestern Finland. They have a hybrid production of 500 sows, producing breeding animals with their entire capacity for the Atria chain, in other words providing young sows for other producers. In addition, they also have a fattening operation with 800 pigs, and 100 hectares of feed grain to be used in their own production. They feed their pigs 3 tons of grain daily, so the quality of the feed has a huge impact on their outcome.
Juha Hakomäki, the farmer and founder of Piglet Oy has been using the GrainSense Handheld Analyzer for the last two years and has found it an invaluable asset in ensuring the quality of their feeds.
“We make our own food mix for our animals, so the control over protein content has to be exact and reliable. Every time our grain batch changes, as well as routinely every month, we measure the protein of the used grains, as well as the moisture and bushel weight. As the measurements can be done so fast, I can get the food mix recipe updated within a calendar day, and therefore reacting to changes in feeding can be done quickly,” Mr. Hakomäki explains.
Variations between different grain batches can be significant, as the soil and other growing conditions can differ between sections of the same field, and routines in e.g. using fertilizers differs between farmers. Piglet Oy buys most of their grains directly from other local farmers, albeit those that they have experienced to provide high quality products.
“When we go through a lot of grain, it's a harsh truth that there are a lot of variations and you have to be able to react to them very quickly, so as not to weaken your own production,” Mr. Hakomäki describes their need for grain quality control.
Before starting to use the GrainSense analyzer, Mr. Hakomäki with his team took samples of the grain and send it to a laboratory at Koskenkorva factory to be analyzed. This took him driving 30 km to the nearest town to hand over the samples to a courier. Results they got about a week later. With the amount of grain they are using on a daily basis, a lot can happen in a week. Thus, speed is key also in this matter.
Getting the protein level just right is crucial in the sow production. Too high protein level in the sows’ diet increases sensitivity to diarrhea in the piglets, while too low protein levels decrease the amount of milk the sows provide their piglets. Avoiding cases of diarrhea also decreases the need for antibiotics. Therefore, to maximize the efficiency of their production, the team at Piglet Oy monitors the diet of the sows carefully.
Another factor Mr. Hakomäki mentions about using the GrainSense analyzer is that the threshold to take the measurements has been lowered to the point that it is to just check the protein in minutes if you have any doubt there might be something wrong with it. One has the updated information in a few minutes. It is easy to control the situation, as often as you feel it is necessary.
This all results in a better welfare of their pigs, as well as gives a piece of mind to the Piglet team.