PigCHAMP: Locked and Loaded

A strong foundation allows this company to bring new products with advanced technology to the marketplace.
By JoAnn Alumbaugh

Long considered the pork industry leader in data management, PigCHAMP reinforces its position with new, advanced products designed to help business-minded pork producers make knowledge-based decisions. In this interview, PigCHAMP General Manager Bob Brcka provides an update on the company's vision for the future.

Q: What changes in the industry are driving the PigCHAMP business?

Brcka: The pork production industry is going through the same kind of business process engineering that gained popularity in manufacturing and some services businesses a few years ago. Producers big and small are thinking more than ever about internal process efficiencies and understanding what management practices can be tweaked to lower costs or improve performance. < Some are even taking this to a Six-Sigma type of business engineering, where very tight process controls are put in place to eliminate "defects" that can hamper production. In order to where very tight process controls are put in place to eliminate "defects" that can hamper production. In order to do this you need a lot of data and you need to have it come together in a way that's useful without a lot of time and effort. Producers don't want multiple "systems" that can't communicate with each other. They don't want to put data from different sources into a spreadsheet to get information. They don't want to outsource data to outside services to generate reports they should be able to get themselves.

These are the cues that PigCHAMP is using to improve our current products and develop new products. We continue to improve the Care 3000 reproductive program to push information out to other systems like electronic feeders and genetic evaluation models, to prevent the need for the same data to be entered multiple times. And if you want to really cut down on data entry, there's the PigCHAMP Mobile system, where all the data you need to enter for your reproductive operation can be done in the barn on a handheld device. The information is validated and electronically synchronized with the Care 3000 program.

Care 3000 became the most widely used swine software in North America by far, based largely on the fact that you can easily get more powerful reports and analysis than has ever been available in a software program. Now we are reaching beyond that to integrate data with other systems and suppliers, whether that's financial programs, feed suppliers or national animal traceability programs. We are doing everything we can to make it easier for producers to collect and analyze ALL the information they need to manage their operation.

Q: We often hear about the great support offered by PigCHAMP ? is this one of the advantages that separates you from the competition?

Brcka: There is no question that "support" is one of the factors that has kept PigCHAMP in the leadership position. This starts with a full-time support staff that takes calls and e-mails during office hours and responds to customer inquiries. These inquiries can range from installation and licensing, to "how-to" questions on report filtering and customization. But we define support much more broadly than a toll-free phone number and the FAQ database on our web site: It is a matter of understanding what information each producer needs to manage and improve his/her operation and doing everything we can to meet those needs. Sometimes this can result in designing a custom report or extracting information from PigCHAMP to be used in another system. This ongoing dialog is also the primary source of the improvements we make to our programs. Since the Care 3000 program was launched in 2007, we have literally made dozens of enhancements that customers have asked for to improve their experience with the program.

Q: We're hearing a lot of buzz about PigCHAMP's new grow-finish product. How will it change the industry and when will it be available?

Brcka: This is something we have been working on for a very long time. There is a good reason why there hasn't been much in the way of grow-finish software available since the original PigCHAMP DOS program was introduced...it's not easy to create software that accounts for all the different ways that hogs are produced. We think we have a product that will provide unprecedented value, and that's what is generating the "buzz." The feedback we are getting from the producers, veterinarians and other industry leaders we have looked to for input and feedback has been extremely encouraging. We hope that by the time this magazine is published, we will have the program in the hands of many of the people who are on the waiting list to get it installed.

Q: Web-based tools are continually being used more frequently by producers. How does this fit with the company’s overall strategy?

Brcka:Use of the Internet has been a key to the overall strategy of PigCHAMP and our parent company, since Farms.com purchased PigCHAMP in 2001. The vision of the founders was and still is to use the Internet as a vehicle to capture, aggregate and deliver information. Over the last 10 years, Farms.com has probably been more innovative in using the Internet for the benefit of farmers than any other agribusiness. PigCHAMP is no exception. I don't see PigCHAMP being an Internet-base software application any time in the near future... there are too many limitations with speed and processing power and we don't want to compromise either with our customers. But many PigCHAMP users are already using the Internet to enter data and generate reports from multiple remote locations. We intend to extend these offerings in the next year by allowing for data to be entered directly into the PigCHAMP program through a web interface. We will also make web access available to user-defined benchmarking reports, statistical process control charts and some very unique analysis tools you won't find anywhere else.

Farms.com was one of the first entities to successfully use the Internet as a tool to distribute information to the agricultural marketplace (see following article) and has been responsible for integrating many new web technologies in a way that is useful to producers and companies serving producers. When you integrate this knowledge and experience with the 30-plus years of accumulated knowledge that PigCHAMP has garnered in pork production data collection and analysis, you have a powerful gateway to the future.

Farms.com: Your One-Stop Shop

Everything you need to stay up-to-date on the markets, agricultural news, research trends and new products can be found at the Farms.com website. The mothership for the websites listed below, Farms.com is the leading agricultural website for North American crop and livestock producers. It specializes in news, markets and current, localized weather updates, as well as expert risk and trend analyses. Insightful commentaries are updated frequently to help you re-evaluate and improve your operation. The website is designed for producers of crops (particularly corn, soybeans, wheat and canola), and livestock (with emphasis on swine, beef, dairy, and poultry).

All the information you need to be a profitable producer can be found at www.farms.com Sub-pages and related websites providing targeted content are listed below:

www.swine.farms.com: You will find current market prices, pork-related news articles, and featured commentaries covering topics ranging from animal health, management, human resources, genetics, nutrition and many other topics. Market analysis and daily market reports are found here, along with a wealth of valuable information on issues that impact your bottom line.

www.pigchamp: PigCHAMP has been the leader in providing knowledge software solutions to the pork industry for over 30 years. With products for desktop, server, web-based and handheld applications, PigCHAMP can provide the data collection, analysis and benchmarking tools needed for any pork production operation. See the PigCHAMP website for more information.

www.benchmark.farms.com: Go online to read the articles from previous Benchmark magazines as well as the ones featured in this magazine. Additional articles pertaining to the topics covered here are available at the site, as well as links to other helpful sources of information.

www.agcareers.com: AgCareers is the leading online career site and human resource service provider for the agriculture, food, natural resources and biotechnology industries. AgCareers connects job-seekers and employers through a targeted online employment resource. It also focuses on providing value-added training, workshops and conferences for career services and industry professionals.

www.riskmanagement.farms.com: Farms.com Risk Management is an agriculture commodity marketing and price risk management service provider. Its experienced analysts provide commodity risk management products and consulting services to producers and agri-business clients throughout North America. Customized plans help producers tailor a package of services that is right for them. The Risk Management team works the markets while their clients work the farm.

www.realestate.farms.com: For those involved in agriculture and related industries farmland is a valuable commodity. Farms.com Real Eastate is dedicated to marketing farm and rural properties across North America and around the world for its members - connecting buyers with sellers.