Prevent Piglet Crushing

Piglet mortality from sows crushing their young has always been an issue that hog farmers struggle with. Farrowing crates make it more difficult for mothers to crush their babies, but consumers want pigs to have more room to be active which means more piglets will die. An Iowa ag tech company is balancing the needs of producers and wants of consumers with sensor-based technologies to save pig’s lives.

Matthew Rooda is the CEO and co-founder of SwineTech. He says they’ve developed a system called “Smart Guard” that uses the sound of a distressed piglet’s squeal to detect when it’s being crushed underneath its mother.

"What it does is it communicates to every other system in the site to pinpoint and locate that piglet, tie it to sow behavior, and then get the sow to stand up with a chiropractic impulse," says Rooda. "We actually have a medical patch that is located on the flank of the sow. It’s like a little band-aid that contains a wearable that tracks behavior, health, and also sends the vibration and chiropractic impulse to get her to sit up or stand up."

If the sow does not stand up, the device sends an alert to the producer letting them know what’s happening so someone can intervene. There is also an interface in the room that gives the producer information that can prevent future mishaps.

"We display how many times we’ve had to get her up, how many times she’s stood up in the past 24-hours, and then also the real-time temperature of the pen itself," he says. "On a dashboard on the internet, they can actually see how often their herd is standing up on a macro basis, but then also what sows are more prone to crushing their piglets so that they can intervene as quickly as possible."