An Interview with Caleb Shull, Ph.D. – The Maschhoffs
You don’t know what you didn’t ask.
Outcomes are always measured within farms. However, there isn’t typically a large depth and breadth to that measurement to identify the real influencers of those outcomes. These gaps limit traditional decision-making. Noting this industry gap, Acuity sought out partnerships to establish unique technology centers where a robust set of data can be collected, analyzed and translated into customer value. One of these key partnerships is with Grigsby Family Farms.
How are the technology centers different from any other commercial production facility?
“Each of our technology centers were originally built as a standard production site, and then modified to facilitate testing. For instance, we added adjustment gates in the back of every pen to keep a constant floor space allocation per pig when pigs have to be removed from pens, and we added scales to weigh entire pens and individual pigs. We also added sophisticated feed systems capable of blending and forming batches of feed for each pen. All of which provide us the opportunity to test variables we believe impact performance in a true commercial setting.”
What about that data collection is unique?
“What we collect isn’t necessarily unique, it’s how we collect it and how often. The added testing features allow us to collect data on our pigs throughout their life cycle. We have the ability to collect both pen and individual weights on a regular basis, typically every two to four weeks. Then with the precise record of how much feed has been sent to that pen, we can get an accurate average daily feed intake and rate of gain. Each pig is additionally tagged to collect detailed morbidity and mortality information.
Our measurements also extend beyond the barns; we collect carcass data including carcass weights, backfat depth and loin depth on each pig raised in the technology centers.”
Why did the Grigsby Family Farm make sense as a center?
“Setting up a technology center at a site owned by a production partner is certainly unique. It requires mutual trust and a shared vision and passion for continuous improvement and innovation. Acuity found these shared values with The Grigsby family and found a partnership able to deliver additional value to both of customers – The Maschhoffs and The Grigsby family. The added on-site technology to collect data is more robust than a traditional commercial production partnership. Having partners that understand the value of the investment to collect this information is key.
And, the Grigsby family has been innovators in their own space for years. They understand the necessity of thinking bigger and trying to find efficiencies to achieve a sustainable output.”
How exactly does this deliver value outside of The Grigsby Farm?
“Acuity is unique in that it directly measures key drivers of profitability, like feed conversion and mortality, on the progeny of sires to ensure they are selecting sires that perform in typical production environments. Boars that perform in the purebred testing environments but not in real-world production environments can come at a significant cost to producers. Technology centers, like the one set up with the Grigsby partnership, are core to Acuity’s strategy of only using boars that are proven, tested, and validated in commercial production environments.”
This gives Acuity customers an added layer of assurance that the sires selected for them are battle-tested and ready to perform.