The Swine Teaching and Research Center 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.