What’s new in swine tech?

[00:00] Welcome everyone. My name is Nikolai Shchetikhin. This is MTech AGcelerate. And as usual, I have Jim Johnston with me. And today we have guests. We have Angie Bowman and John Kidd. 

[00:41] I mean, it sounds like a really interesting podcast we’ve got. We’ve got Angie Bowman, who is MTech’s, Director for Swine. And we got John Kidd today who is MTech’s sales director in USA. So great to have you both on the podcast. I look forward to an interesting conversation, which today is I guess all about Swine, Pork and the pig sector. 

[01:09] Yeah, exactly. So we’ll have a very good conversation today. I’m really happy to have you here. So I will start with our traditional first question for all the guests we have, how you started with this industry? And why you’re still staying here. And I’ll probably ask Angie first Ladies first. 

[01:29] Thank you. I was actually born in it. The quote for me is I was born in a barn. And I’ve stayed there ever since I grew up on a purebred and commercial Hog Farm and have stayed in the industry have a passion for pigs and people and technology. So seems like a good fit for me.   

[01:51] That’s cool. That’s really good and John how did you get into the swing side of the industry?

[01:56] So I could say honestly, that I wasn’t born into it. I started with MTech 16 years ago, and prior to that I was product manager for an accounting software to be unnamed. But I was brought on to the company to start the development of the swine software with two big players, one in Brazil, one in the United States. And through the development of the swine software, the rollout of the swine software, the acquisition of a number of customers. I sort of moved through the roles and in MTech and wound up being the point salesperson for swine.

[02:38] Oh, wow. That’s interesting. And Angie, since you’ve been born in the barn, you probably have a very interesting story. So could you just share it with us a little bit?

[02:52] Sure. You know, as a kid, my main responsibilities, were working in our farrowing barns. And my first one when I was 10, I think my mom just wanted me out of the house. And it was just a few steps from the back door. So I got really good at taking care of sow baby pigs and my dad incentivized me to have them wean a lot of pigs, so I learned a lot of pig care. But there was never really a way to document you know, and to show my dad except for pigs out the door, how the production was going. And so when I landed at Purdue for college, one of my first projects in an animal science class was developing some code to help represent the pig production cycle. From there, I managed farms in Indiana, and ended up working at a competitive software company, right in the middle of college, and I really stayed in the whole software, swine production realm ever since. After school, I went to work for a large genetic company. So spent a lot of time working on software, estimated breeding values, all of those types of things for them, and then went to a large integrator where I worked in r&d for a number of years working with technology like weight production, ESF systems, all of the production record keeping, I ended up managing that for them before I left, took a short sojourn to our largest competitor for a few years, and then ended up an MTech five years ago, where, you know, I worked in business analysis. I still today work in all of our product development manager, QA team, and now work with our project team. Just start taking this out to the industry and I work with John a lot on any and all of that.

[04:42] Hmm, well, yeah, that’s, that’s a whole career really isn’t to have a career in the industry and quite a lot of different aspects of the industry too. So given the number of years you spent in the Swine side, what are the main trends that you’re picking out? In the current industry, what’s the industry trends today?    

[05:04] Sure, lately, one of the big buzzwords, of course, is the California prop 12 animal welfare situation where in the state of California, they passed legislation that would change up the amount of square footage that animals are allowed. And if producers do not comply, they’re not able to sell their products in California, of which they have 15% of the national pork market. So once that kind of came into play, then they are trying to ratify that across the United States. And that really is a big change for all of the producers, both small and large, because that will require, you know, changes in their housing systems, potentially adding technology like ESF systems, all those kinds of things that then have to managed by a software system, which MTech can do today. So that really, you know, makes what we do with development have to maybe switch a little bit and really push on technology, because we don’t know how that’s going to land quite yet. 

[06:16] Okay, and, John, what would you say the main trends are, from your perspective,   

[06:21] you know, I think some of the main trends within the industry are really the recognition or the adoption of something, we’ve been doing at MTech for the last four to five years, which is the IoT, or really the Internet of Things, right. And so the Internet of Things is, a concept tool that is allowing the immediate capture of climate information, it’s allowing the immediate capture of barn environmental information, recording of production KPIs, and all of this pushing up through the IoT to better the information gathering the data gathering the timeliness of the data. And it’s really a trend that’s being seen throughout not only the swine industry, but the world, all industries are, are really adopting this and the swine industry being, you know, one of the forefront, runners there, that’s really intrigued in the product offerings that are out there, and how it’s going to bring together what’s happening on farm in barn, in each stage of the barn, to really better the knowing of what’s happening on farm without having to be there with all the recent changes in the world and the travel restrictions, having the opportunity to really have off site visibility, what’s going on is becoming just a huge trend. And, and even for the companies and the customers that have adopted it early, the early adopters, you know, some of the lagging adopters are, are really looking at this technology to really improve how they do business to work with, you know, lesser workforces to, to really maximize their time on farm in barn with the right type of location, understanding what’s going on before you get to a certain site. That’s really one of the big trends in the distribution of the data of information that’s really driving industries. And again, the swine being one of the leading industries there towards that information gathering real time data gathering is going to really aid in understanding what’s happening, what’s coming next, how can we do things better? Where do we need to focus our time? And how we can better maximize our investment that’s happening throughout all the producers.

[08:47] Yeah, and I guess this is also true for many other industries. And but like you said, swine has been on the edge of the technology most of the time. And now many companies are trying to digitalize their whole operations. And they usually start with IoT. But there are also all other different aspects of digitalization path and Angie. How do you think how digitalized this whole swine sector is? Is it really picking up on the technologies or it’s still some time to go for that?

[09:24] As far as data management goes, just strictly the production records that come from a sow farm or a growout system? It’s still it is definitely coming into play. But in a lot of areas, it’s still slow. I mean, I see people still collecting data on paper, you know, faxing it, mailing it very similar to what happened years and years ago in the service bureau situation. So you know, they have to make an investment into technology. And whenever they do that, though, then this really allows them to be more proactive in Decision Making instead of reactive, because the longer you wait for records to come in, you know, the biological process of pig production is continuing. So you may miss a few things along the road. So I definitely see a lot more interest in the last few years specifically for mobile handheld devices. And, you know, everywhere in the world, cell phones exist, and, you know, kids from the age of five to, you know, seniors can operate them. So I really don’t see those barriers anymore. On being scared of technology, because people use it in their day to day life, you know, more than you even think about. So I imagine it’ll continue at a much rapider pace.      

[10:38] Yeah, sure. It’s interesting that, you know, even the swine side of things is taken up and technology and for Twitter, the other areas, you think, Angie, that technology is really helping with the challenges in the modern day swine industry?

[10:53] I would say one area that can help, if it isn’t already is, you know, there’s kind of a documented labor shortage, at least in the US and the swine industry, I’m not sure on the challenges in other countries, but here, you know, just getting people to be available to work in that environment. You know, I think if you give them some technology to work with, people tend to really have an interest in that particularly young people who I assume will be joining the, you know, the swine industry. So, you know, being able to collect the information faster, you know, they can get that job that tasks done, they don’t have to sit there and, and do five steps to accomplish it. That helps them have time on the pigs. And then as far as the people in the office, you know, if it comes directly into the database, then they can spend more time on analysis instead of hand keying records. So a lot more value added. processes can occur, in my opinion.

[11:51] All right, great. And it looks like there is this drive for the technology. And there are plenty of areas where technology and digitalization can help businesses. So guys, if you could just elaborate a little bit more on how MTech is doing and MTech is helping the industry and what kind of features we are delivering to this swine business?

[12:15] Yeah. So when you when you’re looking about the IoT, right in the product offerings we have there, obviously, there’s the Big Five sensors, you know, your temperature, water, humidity, weight, the then you’ve got other ones like ammonia, capturing or hooking up to automated feed systems. One of the benefits of the MTech IoT Hub in the way we’ve published it or presented it out to the community is that we’ve got a standardization. And that standardization of the API allows us to really connect to a lot of different hardware devices, without having to alter our protocols. And that’s been our approach from really Day One is to really be hardware agnostic, and really be concerned about capturing the data. And as Angie said, you know, getting that real time data into the system, which has been somewhat of a challenge. So it’s really through these, these onfarm, in barn devices that, that we’ve got a set of, I would say, initial offerings, that is expanding every day, every week based on interaction with other product vendors out there because of our use of a standard API. 

[13:39] Agree, I mean, ultimately, we’re trying to do with our product offering a farm to fork, you know, integration of all of the components, whether it be raw data, sensors, anything we can tag into data from the Packers, we do that today, to drive it into our business analytics tools so that people can make decisions faster and easier. Just having all of that available on a screen where you don’t have to run reports definitely can add value.

[14:12] And, you know, Angie talks about the farm to fork, Nick, it’s really, when you get into the MTech product offering when you build up from the IoT Hub into the software that we’re providing to the integrators to the actual growers, you’re really talking about modules that support the processes that begin to breed to wean, and continue through wean to finish. And in these modules, we are tracking everything that happens on farm all the on farm events, feed deliveries, animal movements, transportation, providing handhelds, as Angie talked about earlier, to allow that the increased retention and acquisition of that data to better make those decisions and allow all of the production KPIs that one would expect that you’re capturing money, even the scroll charts. About us our farm to actually be recorded in a system and then that that information on the back end is all being tied with an accounting structure that supports the overall costing of weaned pigs, the costing of your nursery groups the costing of your finished groups, giving people the ability to see what is my cost of production at a given inventory stage or inventory phase of production type being at multiplication, commercial genetic nucleus, so MTech is really taken approach that says, you know, not only are we digitalising and assisting through the digitalization of the data, we are actually having that data management that data repository that’s going to support the better decision making the overlay of costing the understanding of your production. You know, we provide industry standard reports from the sow, the nursery, the finish integration to the Packers to give you information back based on the lien matrix of the hogs that are being delivered to the plant producer pay. The management of feed Mills feed ordering feed production, MTech is really taking the approach that we can provide for the live side from farm to fork, just like Angie is noted.

[16:16] Great. And it looks like there’s a lot of technology involved, right, from mobility to business intelligence. And what about the latest and greatest that everybody’s talking about artificial intelligence?

[16:31] Well, we are actually going to start with some projects here shortly, tying them to what’s called our inventory tool, which is a visualization tool for your inventory all the way from your sow farm, to what your contracts are for packing. And we will be tying that into weight prediction, as well as potentially weaned pigs. So that we can help people predict your project, you know what their farm performance will be going forward. So that is just one way we’re doing it. We’re starting to get our feet wet on the swine side. But really the sky’s the limit, as far as if we collect the raw data today, or if we pull it in from sensors or, you know, even packing plant data, we can apply this logic to it, and it can start to tell you the trends you know, adding in seasonality, components, genetic components, your barn, barn style, we have all of that data collected in MTech today, so then we can add whatever parameters we want. That basically our customers demand to help them come up with some of these answers.

[17:41] That’s great. And sounds like is a fairly comprehensive range of solutions on the software and technology side for swine customers. And it’s been really good talking to you today, we’re coming to the end of the podcast, and I’ve got to thank you. I mean, it’s, it’s interesting for me as a chicken guy speaking to people from the pork industry. So I’m always keen to understand how other industries operate. And whether they are at the same stage of digitalization and use of technology as the poultry people are, but it’s good speaking to two people from the industry who really understand it. And born in the barn, Angie, I mean, that’s the new name, I guess. And, and join, thanks for sharing your background and how you got into the industry and, and the trends, you know, the kind of up to date, in the moment trends in the industry, it’s really interesting to understand that and, and hear about how technology is being used across the sector now. With real time monitoring in the barns and the visibility that it creates and, and great to hear, your thoughts on MTech swine solutions, and you know, that can help run businesses out there. Farm to Fork is massive nowadays in all protein production. So it’s cool that the solution really covers that strongly as part of the offering to customers. So thanks very much for talking to us this afternoon. It’s been really good.

[19:11] Thank you. We are very excited and Jim and Nick, I think will convert you to the pig side of the world before this is all over with. Oh. Challenge offered. All right. Yeah. Good deal. Okay. We’ll take it up.

[19:29] Yeah. Thanks, everyone, for joining today. And for those who just joined us, please follow us on social media. We’re on LinkedIn on Twitter and on Instagram, and subscribe to our AGcelerate show not to miss the new episodes. See you in the next one. See you Nik thanks John and Angie. Cheers!