by Mike King

American visitors to EuroTier, like this group from Minnesota, took advantage of learning about new stall and pen technologies.
American visitors to EuroTier, like this group from Minnesota, took advantage of learning about new stall and pen technologies.[/caption]While not totally pig-centric like World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, EuroTier provides a look at the high-tech world of pork production. The massive fair, held every two years in Hanover, Germany, is the world’s leading trade fair for livestock production.

EuroTier offers a smorgasbord of everything related to raising pigs, cattle, sheep, and chickens. In 2016, 2,629 exhibitors from 58 countries presented innovations and product developments for agriculture worldwide. At the biennial EuroTier, awards are given for the most innovative products. Last year, judges considered 270 entries from all species. Not all items are yet readily available in the U.S.

Weigh, Sort Pigs with a Tablet or Smartphone

The gold-medal winner in the swine category was the software called Piggy Check from Meier-Brakenberg. This software makes it possible to weigh and sort market hogs with a smartphone or tablet PC with 3D-camera.

The user takes pictures of an animal inside a pen. The camera then creates depth images and calculates the animal’s weight, producing a traffic-light indicator that shows the recommended marketing action.

Users also can integrate Piggy Check technology to collect and evaluate all data in a cloud-based databank. This can offer keen insights as to when barn cutouts should happen to maximize market prices. Producers need to have the hardware to make the system work, as well as a monthly subscription.

CulinaFlex by Big Dutchman International won a silver award. The central part of its system is a pinch valve installed in the drop pipe, which functions similarly to a balloon. This differs from many drop-pipe systems as it squeezes remaining feed from the pipe when emptied.

The balloon also displaces oxygen to create an anaerobic environment, which prevents germs from reaching the feed pan. The company claims this reduces labor because pipes no longer require cleaning.

Editor’s Note: Mike King, director of science communications for the Pork Checkoff, attended the 2016 EuroTier as a guest of the German Agricultural Society. The next EuroTier will be Nov. 13-16, 2018.

EU Not So Different

From sow stalls to tail-docking or antibiotics, there was no shortage of conversations and presentations at EuroTier. While the European Union has some differing animal welfare codes than in North American production, industry sentiment may be more similar than Americans would think. Martin Scholten, managing director of the animal sciences group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, was a speaker at EuroTier. He said, “We can’t regulate our animals into being happy, but we can use technology to look at their performance to ensure they are well cared for.”

Scholten said that “dealing with politics and marketing campaigns” is a worldwide phenomenon facing farmers. He thinks the voices of farming need to continue to point out the difference between what may make people feel good versus what is in the best interest of the animal.

“We must combat those outside of agriculture who think they know more about what animals need than what science tells us they do,” Scholten said. “Because we’ve been slow to do this, marketers have taken advantage and are using consumer emotions to drive changes.”