RC Family Farms in Iowa is a wean-to-finish pig production company that has partnered with independent pork producers since 2006 to raise pigs profitably and responsibly.
- Not receiving real-time health and production information from contract farms
- Not being able to treat health problems as quickly and efficiently as possible
- Biosecurity risks and time constraints of needing to visit multiple units each day
- A fully integrated data collection and management and system, all on one secure platform
- A simple-to-use ‘one-stop’ app for caregivers to upload real-time information about their pigs
- Telehealth capabilities to allow owners, producers, and veterinarians to collaborate remotely in real-time
- Radically improved response times to on-farm health issues which helps producers make better decisions, saving pigs and money
- The convenience of real-time data sharing at every stage of production; saves time and effort, fuels growth, and promotes better teamwork
- A system which drives continuous improvement, for health, welfare, and biosecurity, to grow the business more efficiently
“EveryPig is a way to help drive continuous improvement, not necessarily just for health and welfare monitoring. It’s how we’re going to be more efficient in our business.”
TOO MUCH DATA AND A LAG IN REPORTING TIMES, IMPACTING ON TIMELINESS OF DIAGNOSING AND TREATING SICK PIGS PROACTIVELY
There’s a fine line between collecting enough data for efficient pig production and being able to use it effectively to improve herd health, while still staying in control of operational expenses.
It’s a problem that most companies involved with pig farming are familiar with – whether that’s from the production, management, or veterinary perspective.
And RC Family Farms in Iowa was no exception.
Their business mission is raising healthy pigs profitably and responsibly, and giving their barn managers the best support to do so.
However, as their business grew to a network that includes over 400 Farm Owners and Caregivers, they realized that managing all the data for optimal results was becoming a bottleneck in the business.
“We were not receiving real-time health and production information from our contract farms,” says Megan Bomgaars Roos, Vice President and General Counsel of RC Family Farms. “Many caregivers would call our vets when they realized pigs were sick, but not all of them. Some would fail to report death loss of 1 or 2 healthy pigs for several days in a row until that number would spike much higher, and a health issue would have taken hold in the barn. This meant we would start treating a health problem on day 6 instead of day 2.”
These concerns were echoed by the veterinary team as well.
“We have caregivers ranging from people just getting started, to people who have been taking care of pigs for forty years,” says Dr. Brent Carmichael, Manager of Swine Production at RC Family Farms. “Although many paper copies of information such as barn sheets with daily health checkups and records were being submitted, the information we received was delayed.”
As a wean-to-finish production operation, RC Family Farms knew that being able to advise quickly on the information submitted by their pig caregivers was the key to success.
The field manager would visit sites either weekly or bi-weekly depending on whether it was a nursery or finishing unit. However, even with this attention to detail, there were times they didn’t have the full picture of mortality rates and causes until after the pigs were sold and gone, by which time it was too late to deal with.
RC Family Farms knew there had to be a better way to solve this challenge. They wanted to know…
“We were not receiving real-time health and production information from our contract farms”
“How do we get real-time information from the pigs, and from the caregivers, so we can take the best care of our pigs, address animal health issues, and get them healthy after being sick, versus having high death loss?”
“The site might be 10 miles or 45 miles from here, and driving time is dead time, as far as monitoring pig health,” Dr. Carmichael observed. “As well as saving time, we also needed a way to save us from moving a disease from site to site. If I’m out looking at 10 different locations throughout the day, EveryPig is used to determine the health status of the pigs for the best biosecurity between farms.”
This became a key focus for the management team at RC Family Farms. They realized the amount of information they needed to analyze from their pig caregivers was only likely to increase as farming practices became more sophisticated.
And they recognized that they needed a fresh approach to data management.
REAL-TIME DATA STRAIGHT FROM CAREGIVERS ON FARM TO VETERINARIANS AND MANAGEMENT, WITH THE EASE AND SIMPLICITY OF EVERYTHING BEING IN ONE SYSTEM
The RC Family Farms team decided to approach the team behind EveryPig to see if they could help solve their challenge with the quality of data and timeliness in managing and responding to it. They wanted to provide optimum support and veterinary guidance for their caregivers and EveryPig was an innovative way to do this.
Unlike other solutions, RC Family Farms considered, EveryPig provides a fully integrated, intelligence-led, data collection and management and system, all on one secure platform.
Caregivers collect in-depth data from the barn, using the EveryPig app on the smartphone in their pocket, with no fancy tech needed. The real-time data-feed from barns gives the veterinarian and production staff ‘as if they were there’ context to make better decisions on herd health 24/7.
Once RC Family Farms started working with EveryPig, they wisely realized that to make a new system work they would need buy-in from the caregivers at the farm level.
“I tried to make it more about each caregiver, and how I can help them in an efficient manner,” recalls Veterinarian Dr. Brent Carmichael about getting started with EveryPig.
“Traditionally, if a caregiver saw a problem, they would call the veterinary clinic. The clinic would get to the site at some point in the day or even the following day, depending on the priority of health and volume of calls. With EveryPig, now if you contact me this morning, I can get back to you in a timely manner and triage calls based on health status and priority. ”
Dr. Carmichael observed that as with most new technologies and implementing change “80% of people catch onto it pretty quick and will respond and interact through the platform, but some take a little longer”
“That’s not a problem though,” he noted “I just explained to the caregivers who were more hesitant; ‘You’re not going to break the EveryPig app. We’ll walk you through it, it’s not scary.’ He added, “It’s funny. You’ll talk to them a couple of months later, and they’ll say ‘This isn’t bad, the app is easy, and it’s pretty slick.’ “
In fact, the managers at RC Family Farms were pleasantly surprised that the technology, rather than creating any disconnect between the caregivers and senior staff, actually served to better connect them within the business.
“After implementing EveryPig we dramatically improved our response time to health issues. We were surprised to discover how much caregivers appreciated the system, especially having quick access to our vets”
“After implementing EveryPig we dramatically improved our response time to health issues. We were surprised to discover how much caregivers appreciated the system, especially having quick access to our vets,” Megan says. “We’d been somewhat concerned that they’d feel cut off from our team when they started to report using the EveryPig platform. We were surprised that the technology actually served to better connect them to our business.”
RC Family Farms have now been using EveryPig for over three years, and the business is going from strength to strength in a competitive market.
As launch partners they were instrumental in its development, to make sure it worked efficiently and effectively for all the different users in the process: Caregivers raising the pigs at farm level, Veterinarians advising on health and welfare, and Field Managers juggling business growth without sacrificing quality of service.
RADICALLY IMPROVED RESPONSE TIMES TO ON-FARM HEALTH ISSUES, WITH AN EASY-TO-USE SYSTEM WHICH HELPS PRODUCERS MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, SAVING PIGS AND MONEY