Feed Management is Key

This system helps producers document and manage their biggest cost.

By JoAnn Alumbaugh

With rising input costs and narrower profit/loss margins, it’s more important than ever to monitor feed usage. There is a system designed to do just that. The PigCHAMP Care Feed Allocation System (FAS) automates the time-consuming, sometimes complicated task of feed ordering. This webbased system allows producers to have the right feed delivered at the right time in an easy, efficient and verified manner.

Through an automated feed ordering process featured online, users determine the quantity of feed required, complete the bin distribution form, and the system sends the order with the necessary information to the vendor. The FAS process also allows producers to add an element of traceability and verification that is unique to this system.

Data entry is completed online and can be done anywhere there is an Internet connection (including “smart phones” and mobile devices), which reduces the cost of labor and paperwork required to track feed budgets and orders. Multiple budgets can be placed in the program as well as diets. The program provides users with an adjusted feed management system and suggests ration adjustments based on current inventory. This reduces feed cost and provides the proper nutrition for the remaining animals.

Faster, More Efficient Ordering

“Our feed ordering and budgeting process has vastly improved since we went to the PigCHAMP Care Feed Allocation System,” says Joel Schmidt with AMVC Nutritional Services in Audubon, Iowa. “The accuracy and the speed with which we can order from multiple feed mills with several different feed budgets can be managed more efficiently.”

John Malin and Molly Blanchfield are with the Feed Division of Farmers Cooperative Company (FC), of Farnhamville, Iowa. This is a large company: Nearly onethird of all livestock producers in Iowa live within 40 miles of a FC feed mill. Malin is Vice President of Feed Sales and has been in the feed business for 35 years, serving in either a sales or management position. Blanchfield has been with FC for five years, and has served as Customer Service Manager for the past year. During her 15 years in the feed business, she has spent time in purchasing, administration and customer service.

“Feed costs are the number one expense to a swine operation besides the pig itself, so if producers can reduce costs by working with us and using the [PigCHAMP Care Feed Allocation System], they can save a lot of money,” says Blanchfield. “We became involved with Feed Allocation Systems because we wanted to improve relations with our customers and their customers,” says Malin. “It can be utilized for any type of system. It’s flexible enough for integrators or for individual producers.”

Malin says the onset of circovirus helped drive the cooperative’s involvement with the system: “We had customers on a seven-phase feeding program and when they were on phase five, they were selling pigs, because they did not adjust their feed budget for death loss due to circovirus. 

For example, if you have 20% death loss and you aren’t adjusting your feed, you end up feeding more expensive rations meant for younger pigs to older pigs. Blanchfield emphasizes the importance of reporting and recording death loss. For people who aren’t recording this kind of information, Malin feels they could easily save $1.50 per pig, which is a 10 to 1 return on investment.

Secure and Pasword-Protected

Additional log-ons can be created if the customer so desires for any consultant, whether nutritional, operational or financial, points out Blanchfield. “It’s very easy to do this since it’s all web-based, but it is a secure, passwordprotected system.”
“Every record of what has transpired is permanent, which I think is really important if someone wants to analyze those records,” points out Malin. “Are employees ordering the right feed? There’s a record of it.”

The qualitative aspects of the system are as important as the quantitative benefits. The people who regularly order feed are happier: They’re able to do their job faster, more efficiently and more accurately. And they have insight to daily production that they didn’t have in the past, because now they can track the farm, groups of pigs, health status and flow. A number of reports are quickly and easily available to multiple users, which relieves office staff of the necessity to compile reports.

The PigCHAMP Care Feed Allocation System records the cost of inputs required in a hog production system. All orders can be tracked back to a group and vendor invoices can be reconciled. Actual prices can be reviewed in the system, creating the opportunity to search for low-cost solutions. The system is a valuable cost-saving tool for

Editor’s Note: John Deen, DVM PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, and Sukumaran S Anil, DVM PhD, is a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota. To contact them, e-mail: deenx003@umn.edu or sukum001@umn.edu