Swine Teaching and Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine implemented an electronic sow feeding (ESF) system in 2001.
The facility was built for teaching veterinary students and to provide a demonstration herd for alternatives to the gestation stall.
By 2005, the basic model that was prototyped at the swine center was being implemented with our guidance on commercial herds.
Today, our ESF system is feeding over 150,000 sows on 65 farms across the United States and Canada. The farms range in size from 100 to 10,000 sows, utilize a variety of common genetic suppliers, and are either family-owned and operated or company-owned and run with hired labor. The best farms are pushing above 30 pigs weaned per sow per year.
Producers who plan to build new sow facilities and/or stay in the business long enough to recapitalize their existing sow facilities will likely need to confront decisions about sow housing over the next decade.
Several alternatives to the gestation stall exist, but it is important that a producer’s choice matches his or her needs and abilities.
We’ve demonstrated that ESF, if properly managed, is not a barrier to outstanding production.