Get in the Swine Web: Top Pork Producer Dave Klocke From Pig Easy sits down with us to talk everything from raising Pigs to growing his Pig Easy business

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Get in the “Swineweb” with Dave Klocke From Pig Easy. Dave Klocke is a lifelong pork producer from west central Iowa, always regarded a top innovative Pork Producer he engaged and grew his business further with Pig Easy and implemented many cutting-edge technologies available to Pork Producers globally.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
You were a Pork Producer in the 1980’s, in the 1990’s you change from a Sow Contract Farm to Farrow to wean, to then an independent producer. Then the next decade in the 2000’s you created Meal Meter and the Pig Easy company. Explain this exciting whirlwind from Pork Producer to Product Innovator? 

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

From having pure bred sows outside and farrowing on straw to our current production practices, what is most striking to me is the fact that successful production always goes back to the same fundamentals.  It’s exciting to watch the genetic potential of sows’ reproductive performance and pigs’ growth rate shoot skyward. I believe there is more potential there that can be tapped by modifying our production practices to meet the needs of every animal.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):

What do Pork Producers need to know about Pig Easy and how you can help with solutions and profitability?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

So much of what we do is fundamental to our name, PigEasy. When you make it better for the pig and the pig has the power to care for itself, it becomes easier for the people.

The products we offer are developed in pork production and many weren’t even intended to be put on the market. They were developed to solve problems I’ve seen on my own farm that have frustrated me for many years. I think the perspective that I bring to product development and my drive to do it is what makes PigEasy and its products unique and effective.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
Over the years I have seen your company grow, from your great family team, to creating a newsletter, attending major tradeshows in the US. and more recently tradeshows in Canada. I see now more team members being added to grow sales and marketing awareness. Now sitting in 2020 how do you see growth shaping over the next 10 years?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

We pride ourselves in having reliable, low tech solutions. I’m not adverse in using technology, but am not willing to give up every day function for high tech complexities. Over the next decade, we plan to develop high tech options while maintaining our low tech, reliable solutions to get even more benefit out of our products.

The producers we talk to still favor simplicity and reliability over all else.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):

Are you still running your Swine operation?  How involved are you and how do you see Production has changes from the 1980’s when you started?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

While my son, Ben, handles the daily management of the farm and our team, we frequently talk to work through issues and I am involved in larger scope strategy on the farm.

The biggest change from 1980 to now was getting everything inside in a controlled environment and on a larger scale, an increase in throughput and efficiency. I really thought when we brought all our animals inside and went to individual housing, that would be the end of variable body condition on our sows. It was not. After struggling and studying it for years, I’ve discovered it really goes back to a fundamental of pigs. While we have separate eating space for every sow, they all eat a little differently. There are nibblers and there are gobblers. Just because I set the drop box at 8lbs a day doesn’t mean that’s what she’s going to consume. And in a typical setting, the feed that’s dropped that she doesn’t consume gets washed away or becomes unpalatable sitting untouched in the environment. I think this plays into our industry’s high replacement rate. When they told me we would need a 50% or higher replacement rate, I frankly didn’t believe it. But it just goes to the fact that once the sow gets out of condition, she’s not able to catch up with the way the industry feeds our sows. So much of feeding sows is time and timing. Timing is when to give them the feed and time is having enough time and access to take in the needed amount.

They are not uniform in their eating behaviors.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):

Over a decade ago you another epiphany at a regional pork conference. One of the sessions discussed how important feed intake was to achieve maximum born alive for gilts and how their first litter size affects production thereafter. It struck a chord with you and the wheels started turning and sleepless nights ensued. From that time until now can you touch on the following points?
1) From looking back then and now how satisfied are you with where you are at, was the vision over exceeded?
2) Are you sleeping any better, or continuing to have sleepless nights while working on innovation?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

  • I’m very satisfied with where we are at because I think from the product standpoint, we are unique in the market with real solutions to this problem. Throughout a sow’s reproductive life, there are key times where limited feed intake has a detrimental effect on her next litter and her lifetime reproduction. We have learned our MealMeter system helps with feed intake consistency. Offering fresh feed, every time to these sows maximizes their desire for full intake. Having the right amount of feed at the right time taps their genetic potential.
  • Sometimes things just get stuck in my head. There are a number of potential innovations rolling around up there, so a sleep goal is now quality and not quantity.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
I know you’re a big Family man. Do you have some funny family farm stories that you can share or something that is key through your family working together to make Pig Easy a success?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

I’m lucky to have raised my family on a farm because it’s hard to nail down one funny farm story. With young kids, I would usually have one or two following me around while working in the farrowing barn. I wasn’t catching it at the time, but my second oldest, Katie, was pretty impressed with the pig tails laying on the floor after processing.

A couple days later, my wife finds a shocking discovery of Katie’s new collection of pig tails in her dresser drawer. Katie was disappointed when we had to tell her she couldn’t keep her new treasures.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

I know a little about a lot of things, but a lot about very little. Except pigs. A lot of my innovations just come from intuitive pig knowledge.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
Can you touch on some tips to improve barn air quality and reduce heating costs?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

We as producers use our eyes and nose to determine the minimum ventilation rate during the colder months. The reality is, that rate is probably higher than it needs to be based on the pigs needs for air exchange. But we do this because we all know air quality is important for pig health and our health.

The secret sauce of the concept of the BrEasy is that it gets rid of the worst air in the barn and reduces the air exchange from the pit up into the pig and people space. The end result:  air quality above the slats is dramatically improved with the same or less ventilation rates from your minimum fans.

We did a study with Iowa State University a few years back that found that BrEasy reduces in-barn ammonia by 32% and the odor by 43% simply by focusing the pit fan to pull the heaviest gases from right above the manure line.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):
Can you explain your most popular product, and then your most underrated or underutilized product and why?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

Most Popular: AI Saddle. Once people use them, they’re hooked on the simplicity and practical function of the AI Saddle. Hands free breeding, when you can count on the saddle to stay in place and the bottle remains upright, is a game changer to achieve quality AI services on every sow.

Underutilized: The use of the MealMeter with breeder bowl in the gilt row. This is the solution most producers are looking for. If you want to change the dynamics of your herd, there’s so much to be gained by maximizing feed intake with incoming gilts. The 3 weeks before they are bred, these gilts need a positive energy balance. They get a cycle on them in gilt acclimation. Then you move them into the breed barn and they quit cycling. Those same things that cause a percentage of these gilts to quit cycling is the same thing that causes some gilts to have less embryo survival or have smaller litters. When you get to the bottom of that, you’ll see the returns throughout the sow farm. By having 10-15% of gilts that have to be turned around and culled because they are non cyclers or non settlers, there’s a huge cost to that. You’ve brought them in, acclimated them, fed them, vaccinated, they’ve taken up space and you’ve got nothing out of it. The MealMeter is a product that can make 98% of your gilts brought into the barn have a litter. This slows down the revolving door. At the same time the gilt’s first litter will be bigger and she will more likely stay productive in the herd longer. You line that up with our PigEasy GDU feeder, and the PigEasy lactation bowl, all these things can reduce your replacement rate. At KFI, we run between a 30-40% replacement rate and pigs per sow lifetime in the low to mid 60s. That’s important during economic times like this. It allows you to lower your replacement rate even further without hurting your long term production goals.

Question (Jim Eadie from Swineweb.com):

5 keys. What is the Dave Klocke five keys to successful entrepreneurship on in the Pig Industry?

Answer: (Dave Klocke from Pig Easy)

  1. Passion – Passion is the energy that feeds all the other ones. It gets you back up to take another shot at a solution after you’ve failed multiple times.
  2. Persistence – It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. In any industry, bringing a new idea from concept to market takes a lot of persistence.
  3. Positioning – Finding good people and getting to understand their natural abilities and strengths.
  4. Presence – In pig production, we have a real presence. Not only as an equipment supplier, but as a producer. A lot of people talk about “slat level” thinking. Having a close connection in the operation helps me to understand today’s challenges. And having been a pork producer all my life, I have a deep seeded understanding of the fundamentals of pig production.
  5. Positivity – It’s important to view mistakes as a learning opportunity rather than an outright failure. Taking those steps in the development process is what gets you ahead of the competition.

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