With the pressures to maintain an efficient barn and provide an environment in which to raise animals for a profit, safety is a critical component, not only for yourself and your staff, but the animals themselves. Older methods of crowding a large number of animals into a huge space or having smaller pens overcrowded with pigs, and then the animals being moved for manual sorting by people crowded in with them are practices of the past.
Sorting scales and directed walkways go a long way to ensuring the safety and health of your animals. They also help with personnel safety, lowering the interaction needed to safely weigh the livestock. Weighing, being such a crucial factor in profit prediction, health maintenance and budgeting, make it imperative that you have in place an operation that allows for individual weighing of your animals. This limited human involvement will also reduce stress to each individual animal, making it healthier and calmer.
The barns and pens themselves can be very stressful environments for pigs, housed as they often are in crowded conditions, sometimes dominated by a controlling “alpha” animal. It can lead to fighting and agitation, causing injuries to your valuable livestock. A further stressor can come at sorting time, when animals are typically pushed together into a pen, then manually sorted according to approximated weight-guessing. The risks to health of both people and animals are raised when there’s manual sorting, putting lighter pigs back into the feeding rotation, and market-ready pigs onto trucks. Eliminating the hand-sorting element makes for a safer barn.
Well-designed pens, sorters and scales can reduce the time needed to complete the task, and greatly reduce chances for injury to people or animals. Animal-friendly design provides for a safer, more efficient operation, with padded alleys, open framing, open, more comfortable matted flooring, rounded edges…each element creating a safer environment for all involved. The pigs are herded into a single-file line and trapped singly on a weighing scale. The data is fed to a computer, which then gives a readout, available on-site or saved to a USB memory stick. The animals are calmer because they’re not overcrowded and there’s less chance of them injuring themselves if they’re not panicking. Low profiles on the scales themselves offer the animals more assurance and a steadier step up, calming them and making them easier to manage.
Safety concerns also occur when you or your staff must handle fighting or aggression, or when overcrowding puts you and the animals at risk of waste contamination and disease spread. The losses can be economically devastating, as well as demoralizing to you, your personnel and your livestock. Single-file entry into the weighing area gives separation, enabling the animal to become calm and the worker to do his job more efficiently and safely. Once each pig is sorted, it can go to the appropriate feeding pen or holding pen, and livestock owners can make decisions about feed or slaughter with better accuracy.