Giving straw as a distraction material to piglets and fattening pigs is and remains a challenge. Sometimes the straw falls out of the rack too hard, other times too little straw falls out or the rack even gets jammed.
For straw pellets, we have our ZVAC37 doser that can dose a lot of large and small sizes of straw pellets. For long straw, we can make a custom straw rack from round rod and strip. But for chopped straw we didn't have a solution yet.
Two Dutch pig farmers were consulting with a large customer to give chopped straw to their piglets and fattening pigs. They were experiencing problems that there is always too much or just too little straw and if we had an idea to better regulate that. The requirements were that the straw feeder can be set in various positions, that the pig straw feeder is durable and that filling the straw bins can be easy, should this be automated. We were able to work on that.
We wanted to make a straw feeder that is close to our existing feeding systems, because that has proven itself well. Using our standard recycled PE sheets combined with stainless steel and our VERBA adjustment was a requirement to ourselves. We made a prototype of two stainless steel grids that we can slide over each other. Together with the adjustment, we can make the holes in these stainless steel grids larger or smaller depending on the length of the chopped straw. In our factory, the prototype looked very good and neat; we were satisfied with it. Now to test it.
The straw feeder in practice
We had the pig straw bins tested at the two pig farmers and they were very satisfied with them. There is not too little chopped straw but certainly not too much either. The piglets and fattening pigs are playing with the straw feeder and pulling out the straw themselves without the straw rack getting stuck. They are really playing with it and visibly enjoying it. Moreover, straw is not wasted unnecessarily, but certainly enough comes out. Moreover, if the length of the straw changes or if they want to change the straw yield, they can adjust the straw rack as desired. Because the top of the straw feeder is so large, the funfeeder can also be easily filled automatically with tube systems if there are larger quantities involved and one wants to save labor. People were very satisfied with the operation. The dimensions have become 600mm high x 400mm wide x 270mm deep (top).
Now that we know that the straw feeder for piglets and fattening pigs works very well in practice, we would also like to make it known to the public. At Eurotier, the straw feeder was registered as an innovation, which is why the straw feeder is also indicated on the innovation route and can be seen at our stand 16G05. We have also already distributed 50 copies of the straw feeder to pig farmers who want to test it and we have handed it over to our partners. We have also found a name and it has become the FunFeeder. An international name that also indicates exactly what it is for: fun for the pigs.