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Global Trends in the Pork Industry

A current trend in the pork industry is the newfound globalization of biosecurity around the world. With ASF running rampant in Asia and Eastern Europe, there’s a high concern with ASF among many.

Fritz Richards talks with Sarah Mikesell about the globalization of biosecurity

“Everybody's clamping down on biosecurity,” said Fritz Richards, national sales director for Hog Slat. “A large part of biosecurity is informed designs, so we're seeing clients building larger farms and larger buildings so they can control people coming in and out. There’s also been changes in methods of transportation, truck washes, truck drivers, and then also visitors. We’re really limiting visitors coming into farms and even internal employees, monitoring how they're tracking from farm to farm.”

Biosecurity has become an important issue for many farmers. Some have looked at more efficient ways to control that from building to building, such as creating bigger buildings and tearing down walkways going from barn to barn. Techniques such as these can prevent rodents from getting in.

“Another big issue besides biosecurity is the fact that labor's a huge issue with farmers,” says Fritz Richards. “Around the world, it's very difficult to hire labor into farms, so the owners are trying to design and build the farms to be more efficient on labor. We're seeing a lot more automation and changes to delivery systems and lactation houses. We have SowMax's and traditionally, lactation has been hand-fed, which is very labor intensive. So we see a large investment by producers to put in chain delivery systems in the lactation barn.”

With new changes to equipment design, the pork industry has galvanized a lot more products, leading to better success that has been traditionally seen in Europe. Customers have seen the larger capital investment upfront being more profitable long-term. The initial cost is higher, but is lower over time because the equipment lasts longer.

“From the labor standpoint, you don't have to do as much repair and maintenance to a higher quality equipment,” said Fritz Richards. “This type of long-term efficiency effort is important because staying in the business has gotten more and more competitive. With margins narrowing, it’s best to look at all options to lower cost and raise productivity.”

A good example of new types of ventilation systems include Hog Slat’s new infinity fans. They don't have belts, so there’s no concern of maintenance of the belt, and they're more energy efficient. This allows producers to cut back costs on energy consumption, and labor costs of not having to maintain belts, so that equipment runs longer with less labor.

“We have engineers on every product group from our equipment, from our slats to our ventilation, our fans, inlets and to our feed systems,” said Fritz Richards. “We're different than any other company in the world. We have our own production. We have 35,000 sows currently in production, and we've been in the hog business many years. So we know firsthand what works, what doesn't work. What breaks at one year, what breaks at 10 years and what breaks it 20 years. It gives us a different insight than anybody else.”

Hog Slat produces a wide variety of different farm products, including manufacture slats, steel panning, TriDek flooring, ventilation, fans, inlets, cool cells, feed systems, and feed bands.

“It's amazing,” said Fritz Richards. “Most people will come and visit us and they're totally surprised by our level of expertise on our R&D and our quality control probably sets us apart further than others. We've got a very intensive quality control program. We're a global company, and we have manufacturing plants around the world and the quality control program encompasses all of our plants and all of our suppliers to be able to maintain a very high level of quality.”

By Claire Mintus

Contributing writer

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