The Kent Nutrition Group’s Product Development Center (PDC), a nearly 800-acre Muscatine County farm, serves as the center of the company’s swine, beef, dairy and poultry nutrition studies for Kent and Blue Seal branded products. In late July, Kent Nutrition Group (KNG) opened a new barn for swine nutrition research. The new swine unit has a unique state-of-the-art feeding system, treatment-specific drinking water plumbing assembly, along with zone-targeted environmental controls, waste management containment, and animal-friendly loadout handling capabilities, which all together set the stage for the next generation of swine nutrition research for KNG.
The new swine barn is Bruce Read’s brain child. Read, who serves as vice president of nutrition and product development, began planning the facility a few years ago, driven to find the latest technology to help his team bring new products to the nation’s pork producers. “It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Kent Nutrition Group has constructed a new swine research facility,” said Read. “But the new swine building is definitely worth the wait and is one of the most up-to-date research facilities in the country.”
The new barn features a feeding system from Feed Logics that looks like something from the future. The system is an intelligent feed delivery system that can offload precise amounts of a specific diet automatically to any feeder in any quantity. The system includes control software to help manage feed trials with Windows-based dashboards and reports that help users monitor pigs’ feeding behavior and gain insights in real time during the feed trial. The PDC system includes two rooms with a total 1,000-head capacity of wean-to-finish pigs and has access to 16 different bin mixes. The automated, computerized delivery feeder uses RFID readers to access the appropriate diet and then deliver the mix to the feeders in the appropriate pens.
“This feeding system allows me to access the barn at any time from any place to see what is being fed,” said Read. “Along with the vast research opportunities possible with these test feeding protocols, the computerized system also helps streamline our trial times and reduce labor needs. We are able to analyze and adjust trials more quickly – giving us added efficiency and flexibility.”
The unique four-line watering system affords Kent research scientists the opportunity to test new hydration products as well. “This watering system allows us to test hydration products side-by-side with a flip of the controls,” Read continued. “This research is not only valuable for our swine product development, but also for our other Kent Corporation family of companies.”
The new facility also features multiple management systems to help worker efficiency, reduce potential errors and make information sharing easier. The state-of-the-art nutrition research technology featured in the new Kent swine barn is ready to lead the company into the next generation of nutrition breakthroughs.
“The new facility allows us to bring our nutrition findings quickly to market,” Read said. “And, we can provide our customers with the quality nutrition products that they trust from Kent Nutrition Group.”