Inside the Varied Industries Building this week at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, visitors will find hundreds of exhibitors showcasing the latest in pork production – including FarrPro founder and CEO Amos Petersen. FarrPro is preparing to manufacture 300 units of its piglet-saving farrowing technology and enter the commercial market in a year.
“I think we’ll be selling overseas, that’s something we’re looking at, in NAFTA countries and the EU. There’s an appetite for technologies like this in the European Union, and certainly here as well,” Petersen said.
FarrPro’s flagship product the Haven creates a microclimate for piglets, evenly distributing heat that keeps piglets warm and healthy without overheating.
“When you notice the sunlight on your arm, it’s very even. It’s incredibly even, actually, the rays are coming in parallel. There’s no distinguishable difference,” Petersen said. “There’s a big difference between that and the way heat and light is received from a light bulb.”
Traditional heat lamps used in the pork industry release uneven heat rays, creating hot spots more than 170 degrees – “which is actually the cooking temperature of roast pork,” Petersen noted.
“On the outside, it’s too cold for habitation. So if they try to get warm in that spot, they die, or they get sick and are disadvantaged,” he added.
Those piglets may burn too much body fat to stay warm, using energy they need to get up and feed, and are either sickened from cold or starve from lack of energy to feed; they might also be crushed under the sow’s weight if they don’t move when she shifts.
The Haven creates an even, warm space for piglets, reducing draft circulation and creating energy savings for producers, Petersen said. Piglets can even nurse from the sow within the Haven unit, lowering the stress of competition from siblings.
At the World Pork Expo this week, Petersen is seeking to establish five new demonstration pilot partners for the Haven. FarrPro already has units being observed in operating hog farms, and is working with Iowa State University researchers to develop testing protocol to compare the Haven’s efficiency and benefits against traditional heat lamps when raising piglets.
“I think it has implications in other industries, absolutely,” Petersen said. “It’s about animal responses to heat and light. There’s a lot of analogues between pigs and people … Poultry is huge. Young animals need to be kept warm. There’s a lot of other verticals that we can cross into, but we really want to nail the hog industry first, and then adapt it.”
“Providing a safe, warm, comfortable environment for piglets should, by all accounts and reason, enable them to survive better and thrive better,” Petersen said. “It’s working.”