Stemming Losses with Real-Time Visibility
May 5, 2023
Senior Content Manager
At any given moment, new problems can arise inside livestock facilities that demand an immediate fix. One minute, everything is running smoothly. The next minute, you’re dealing with an equipment malfunction that’s jeopardizing the well-being of your animals.
As a fifth-generation pig farmer, swine production manager Lynn Becker of LB Pork has experienced this challenge firsthand and knows the importance of correcting problems in his barns before they get out of control.
Detecting Problems with Ventilation
Like any pig farmer, Lynn and his team depend on barn curtains and ventilation systems to keep their pigs at the right temperature year-round, especially during the most brutally cold and sweltering hot months of the year. With Northrop, Minnesota’s average springtime low temperature as cold as 26°, a breakdown with their barns’ climate control equipment could be nothing short of catastrophic.
It was early April when Lynn observed a sudden drop in temperature at one of his nursery sites. Over the course of a few days, Lynn noticed a decline of temperature in Barn 8 that was 6-8° lower than his other barns using his BarnTalk app.
That’s when Lynn contacted his farm manager to see what was wrong at the site. While their barn heater was working, it still wasn’t enough to keep up with the dropping temperature. They quickly discovered that the barn curtain rope was broken and hanging open, allowing the cold air to blow in.
With the problem identified, Lynn and his team were able to repair the broken curtain and return the barn to the right temperature. Lynn says having real-time visibility into their pig barns by using BarnTalk is allowing them to get ahead of potentially catastrophic issues and stem losses.
“We see it as a barn management tool in addition to an alarm.”
Out with the Old, In with the New
Before making the switch to BarnTalk, Lynn was using Sensaphone and AgriAlert alarms to monitor their barns, and his production team struggled to ever get the full picture into the conditions of their barns.
“The old alarms just made a phone call, and there was no way to identify trends.” It wasn’t possible to see real-time sensor readings remotely, or know exactly where an issue was taking place when an alarm was triggered.
Lynn was looking for a modern solution that would allow both him and his production team to know the conditions of each of their barns remotely, and at any time of the day. Using a traditional, wired barn alarm would not allow Lynn or his team to view temperature, water flow, humidity, or other conditions in real-time.
The costs associated with maintaining a wired alarm system were also discouraging. “There has to be someone with wireless capabilities. This is the year 2021.”
After discovering BarnTalk at World Pork Expo, Lynn says his team is now monitoring temperature, humidity, and water in multiple barns across their sites. He typically has 6 to 7 employees on their call-tree so they can monitor the conditions of their barn from anywhere and receive alarms whenever there is an issue.
By bringing real-time data into one system, Lynn and his team are streamlining their ability to track conditions in every barn while caring for their pigs. Lynn and his team work constantly to forecast their production outcomes and outline new goals for their operation. He says having remote access to data is enhancing their ability to make well-informed production decisions and shape longterm planning.
“We can fix problems before there is an issue with our pigs.”
Continuous improvement is a leading philosophy Lynn and his family use to manage their operation. He values having an alarm that follows the same approach by sending updates to the mobile app and the system’s firmware over the air.
“The beauty of BarnTalk is that it is constantly updating. There’s just more to come with other features.”
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