I attend a variety of trade fairs around the world and it never fails to amaze me that farmers are happy to trudge round the showground carrying a big plastic bucket all day long, emblazoned with a colourful company logo. Then again it’s a handy receptacle for the reams of advertising material and wall calendars that get dished out by enthusiastic salesmen and women.
At EuroTier this year we had a new gimmick – a 1.5 m long wooden brush handle  – not quite sure how that would get through an airport security scanner, to take back home, is beyond me!
The list of trade fairs seems to be endless but as long as they make money they will continue to appear on the calendar. We can send emails, telephone, use video links but nothing beats a good old fashioned face to face chat over a beer or a cup of coffee. EuroTier is a general livestock show and not just a pig fair, plus it also has a large Bio-energy section, given Germany’s focus on green energy. The show attracted 156,000 visitors with 20 per cent coming from abroad, of which just over a 1000 came from North America. Numbers were slightly down on the 2012 event, attributed to a reduced poultry focus at the 2014 show. There were 2360 exhibitors from 49 different countries, plus there were a number of technical demonstrations to see and numerous conferences and forums to attend.
Given the increasing number of hyper prolific genotypes on the market it was appropriate to have an innovation area displaying many different types of equipment connected with rearing piglets, for example milk lines and special creep diets. Danish feed company Hamlet Protein hosted a seminar highlighting Danish pig productivity and a room crammed full of attendees from 28 different countries learned how a 1300 sow Danish farmer is producing 40 pigs per sow per year.
The author was delighted to meet up with Manitoba based Neil Booth and Steve Davies, of Maple Leaf Foods. Both were former students of mine and I hadn’t seen them for 14 years so it was great to meet up again, and glad to hear that they are doing so well. Neil showed me round his Elite Swine units back in 2000 and of course there have been many changes since then in Manitoba.
Genesus had a booth at the show and I got chance to meet President Jim Long. When on his business trips abroad Jim always posts detailed reports on-line in the media and I find these make great reading, so I had chance to compliment Jim and to ask him to keep up the good work! Jim added that a feature of the Genesus female is her ease of management, something which is not the case with some of the other genotypes that other breeding companies produce.
I first came across Quebec based JYGA Technologies some years ago at the big French SPACE show. At that time they were launching their electronic lactation sow feeder, the Gestal Solo, which has proved to be a very successful product.
Gratien Theriault is VP for exports with Jyga and he showed me the company’s new gestation sow feeder, the Gestal 3G. As readers are well aware, group housing of pregnant sows will be the norm before long. There are a number of options available to producers, some simple, like self-select free access stalls, and some pretty complex, namely ESF systems. Gratien was at pains to point out that Jyga’s system sits between the two. It’s an electronic feed dispenser which is fitted to a free access stall. The stall has a rail which runs the full length of the stall, to stop sows lying down and the unit operates independently of any computers using Wi-Fi technology. Each sow can have her individual feed curve programmed in, with feed being dispensed 100 g at a time and one feeder will handle 20 sows. Producers now have to get rid of gestation stalls which can result in issues with slatted flooring. Having to replace the whole pen floor is very costly. However, holes and slots can be filled using a Danish product, the slat gap cover. It comes in two widths, 14-18 mm and 18-22 mm, is very easy to fit and needs no fixings to keep it in place.
The pig breeding companies always have a substantial presence at EuroTier. Denmark is making big waves as far as exporting breeding stock is concerned and their avowed aim is to become a very major player on the world scene. DanAvl literally means “Danish Breed” and it acts as the licencing organization for a number of Danish breeding companies such as Danbred International, Porc Ex etc., all selling breeding stock and semen based on Yorkshire, Landrace and Duroc genes. They must be doing well, judging by the size and scale of their stands. Many of the other breeding companies have developed synthetic lines especially for their terminal sires, but DanAvl seems happy to just stick with those three pure breeds.
EuroTier is organized very efficiently by the DLG (German Agricultural Society) and the DLG organize many other farming events worldwide. EuroTier actually alternates with  Agritechnica, a huge machinery show staged by DLG, also at the Hannover Messe (showground) and also in November. The DLG awarded as usual a number of gold and silver medals to new products and of course these are highly prized by exhibitors. Schippers of the Netherlands won a gold medal for their Hy-Care concept. Hygiene and cleanliness are all important for good pig performance and the Hy-Care concept ensures this in a unique way. The farrowing crates are fitted individually into large bathtub like containers (with curved corners for easier cleaning and disinfection), which stand on an industrial size conveyor and when piglets are five days old  the  pens are moved to nursing and rearing rooms. Moving does not appear to upset the pigs at all. A weekly system is operated allowing the pens to be emptied of manure on a regular basis. The pens then go into a large washing machine which cleans and disinfects the containers/ pens. The system avoids cross contamination leading to improved health and the reduced need for antibiotics. Schippers have built a prototype unit and 48 sows have farrowed in it. Pre-weaning mortality is 20 per cent below the Dutch national average and pigs are reaching 25kg at 60 days of age which again is well above normal Dutch performance. Welfarists might object to this system, saying it really is “a pig production line”, but the amazing performance means the pigs are not affected by their “industrial” environment.
Big Dutchman is famous worldwide and they were delighted to also win a gold medal, with their PEF (Pulsed Electronic Feed) system. In several countries feeding maize silage to pigs is popular and the ensiling process does make more nutrients available. What Big Dutchman has invented is the means to completely break down the whole maize plant. Maize silage as part of the feed mix is subjected to electrically pulsing fields, which break down the cell walls releasing the cell nutrients. The net effect means that the nutrient value of the maize plant is increased and can be better utilized by the pig.
Moving dead pigs can be very hard work and getting a dead sow out of a farrowing crate can be a backbreaking thankless task. Hand powered rigs to move dead pigs have been around for a while, but German company Meier-Brakenburg’s  “Porky’s Pick Up” is the first self-propelled cadaver collector to be put on the market and certainly deserves being awarded a gold medal. A series of electrically powered saw edged rollers engage with the dead pig and elevate it up on to the trolley bed, whilst reversing the direction of the rollers removes the pig. The trolley even has a footboard which allows the operator to ride along as well as the dead pig. No more strained backs once you have one of these in your piggery.
Visiting EuroTier is something of a marathon but if you want to network and see the latest that the pig industry world-wide has to offer then it’s well worth the effort. You have just under two years to get fit for the next edition, to be held Nov. 15-18, 2016. The hotels are taking bookings already!  •
— By Norman CrabtreeScreen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.56.01 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.56.10 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.56.16 PM