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With RFID, Pork Producer Sells No Swine Before Its Time

Israel's largest pig farm is using UHF EPC Gen 2 tags to increase production, ensuring that each animal receives proper care, and improving the health of sows and their piglets.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 18, 2009An Israeli firm specializing in pork products is employing an RFID system at its pig farm in Galilee to track the health and productivity of its sows as they produce piglets. For the past three months, the meat producer—which asked to remain unnamed—has been using the BOSwine system, provided by Israeli RFID solutions provider Better Online Solutions (BOS), to track the amount of feed the pigs eat, as well as their weight, pregnancies and the number of piglets they produce. The system, says Oren Lazimi, the farm's operating manager, is expected to increase litter size and frequency, while also reducing the piglets' mortality rate.

BOSwine can also help the pig farm—Israel's largest—recognize a health problem much more quickly than it has in the past. And by more properly managing a pig's vaccinations and overall health, says Shalom Daskal, BOS' CEO, it can reduce the risk of an outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which causes swine flu.

Better Online Solutions' Shalom Daskal
Until the system was installed earlier this year, Lazimi says, the farm used pen and paper to manually track its 4,000 sows, 400 boars and 50,000 piglets. In notebooks kept at various stations across the farm, workers would jot down the animals' ID numbers (obtained by reading the numerals printed on their ear tags), along with any procedures they underwent, such as birth, vaccinations, insemination, pregnancy checkups, birthing and weaning.

There were multiple problems related to such a system, however. If a sow became unhealthy, had not received a necessary vaccination, or was not inseminated at the appropriate time, her health and productivity to deliver healthy piglets declined. In addition, it was difficult for the farm to track genetics, such as which mother and father pig produced the healthiest and largest litters. If vaccination records were not properly updated, a pig might need to receive the same shot multiple times, and if a sow's piglets were not weaned at the appropriate time, her insemination would need to be delayed.

The farm required a system that would improve the health of the mothers, create the best father-mother matches, and ensure that piglets were born thriving and in large litters.

With the BOSwine system, each female piglet weighing more than 1 kilo (2.2. pounds) at birth has an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive EPC Gen 2 BOSwine tag attached to its ear, and is then slated to become a breeding sow. Male piglets from productive father boars may also be tagged and raised to be sperm-donating boars. Tags are read with a handheld or stick reader, provided by BOS.

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