Growing up in North Iowa, my grandparents had a big red barn on their acreage for the horses. My sister and I used to love going out to the barn to feed the horses and play on the big stacks of hay bales in the hayloft. Someone would usually have to keep an eye on us, because we were a little too curious about the big door for loading and unloading hay that opened up to the ground from the second story.
Most barns today have a completely different form and function. Today’s barns are highly efficient facilities to maximize production. Working in AgTech venture capital has introduced me to some amazing technology that is starting to go into top producers’ hog and poultry barns.
FeedLogic Corporation is a company in Minnesota that has developed automation technology for feeding different groups of hogs different rations of feed. This is particularly useful for on-farm research to determine the best combination of ingredients for healthy and efficient production. The same company also developed a Wi-Fi-connected sensor to monitor feed levels in bins. The technology offers producers the peace of mind that they will not have an unexpected shortage, and allows the farmer to monitor whether the correct amount is being fed at all times. Perhaps the most exciting solution this company has developed is a system of sensors and analytics for predicting bird health, rate of gain, and the optimum load-out date in broiler poultry barns.
A second company that has made a huge impact on barn technology is Once Innovations. Once Innovations is a Minnesota company that has developed innovative smart barn lighting solutions. Once was on the ground floor of creating LED lighting that can withstand the harsh environment inside a barn. The company has also pioneered using different color spectrums and dimmable bulbs to mimic natural light in the environment that the animals are most comfortable in. It is amazing to see the results on health and productivity that Once has demonstrated from using species specific lighting in a barn. This company is so innovative that I almost forgot to mention the enormous energy savings from converting a barn to LED lighting!
SwineTech is an Iowa company, founded by a University of Iowa student, that has developed a fantastic technology to save piglets from being crushed. This crushing problem has shown little improvement since farrowing crates were adopted several decades ago. The SwineTech system uses algorithms and sound wave detection to create the safest possible environment for piglets. The system monitors all squeals within a farrowing stall and can detect if a sow has laid on a piglet and send a signal to the sow to stand up before the piglet(s) are crushed!
With this kind of technology, I am not sure being “’born in a barn” has the same meaning anymore!
Written By: Spencer Stensrude, Business Analyst