Pork production is often a balancing act between animal welfare, productivity and sustainability. Farmers are motivated to reduce sow and piglet mortality to improve their yields, new techniques to boost facility productivity and to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint through minimized energy use and reduced water and feed waste.
A new company called “SwineTech” is providing a scalable, intuitive, and centralized platform that increases farm profitability by improving daily workflows, process compliance, and pig care. It empowers workers to improve the health and well-being of pigs while supporting more efficient, more sustainable facility operations.
I should also mention, SwineTech recently launched the “Popular Pig Podcast”. Popular Pig is a convenient place where swine professionals can stay up to date on what’s popular in the swine industry. Listeners can expect to receive invaluable information on the latest trends, news, and research from various experts that guide the global pork industry. Each episode has been specially crafted to address the current needs and challenges of today’s pork producers, while also looking ahead to gauge where the industry is going. The intention is to educate and prepare producers by virtually connecting them to worldwide industry experts and entrepreneurs. Click HERE for the Popular Pig
You are invited to learn how SwineTech is working to become the eyes and ears for pork producers, enabling them to offer an exceptional quality of life for the pigs in their care at a webinar we are co-hosting tomorrow October 21st at 3:00 PM CST called “Digital Hog Farm Management. Simplified,” with Matthew Rooda, Co-founder and CEO of SwineTech. Register HERE for the webinar.
How Swine Tech Started… Good Story!
Matthew Rooda, SwineTech co-founder and CEO, grew up in a family of pork producers and quickly learned the value of a good work ethic and a positive outlook on life. Through daily chores and everyday obstacles, Rooda was able to recognize the role that family, patience, and thinking outside the box played in the farm operations. Knowing there was never a moment that warranted an excuse because the livestock depended on him for safekeeping, Rooda pushed the limits when working on his family farm during his childhood. Often witnessing the innovation of his grandfather and father who sought solutions to benefit their operations. He quickly realized that a farmer wasn’t just a farmer, but rather a jack of all trades. They are expected to be the plumber, electrician, mechanic, carpenter, inventor, and just about anything else that is needed to sustain a farm. This translated into a natural ability to think outside of the box and solve real-life problems in pork production.\
Throughout High School, Rooda spent much of his time working for local pork producers. He helped with managing the nurseries, finishing operations, and also passionately sought to make improvements within the industry. While attending Hawkeye Community College in 2013, Rooda was offered the opportunity to serve as an assistant farm manager and farrowing manager at a farrow-to-finish farm in Waterloo, Iowa. It was here that Rooda battled the historic problem of piglet crushing to no avail. The team had implemented many of the available products and caregiving procedures, but nothing seemed to solve the problem. The farm could not afford to be staffed 24/7, and as a result, each morning Rooda would return to the farm to find dozens of crushed baby piglets. After graduating from Hawkeye Community College with his Associates of Liberal Arts Degree, Rooda transferred to the University of Iowa in pursuit of a degree in Genetics and Biotechnology with his best friend Abraham Espinoza, a Computer Science and Engineering student from Saltillo, Mexico. Within just one semester of study, Rooda received a few phone calls encouraging him to create a solution to piglet crushing. After conducting research and gathering industry benchmarking statistics, Rooda and Espinoza presented their idea at the John Pappajohn Founders Club Fair. They were awarded 1st place for “Most Likely to Succeed and Most Viable Business” and a grant of $1,500 to further pursue their research in developing a solution.
Rooda and Espinoza sought after more information, they headed to the World Pork Expo in 2015 to conduct countless interviews. During which they found 92% of pork producers were actively looking for a solution to piglet crushing. Recognizing the urgency to solve the problem, Rooda and Espinoza joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator as one of nine companies, out of hundreds of applicants, to help with their research, development, and overall business acumen. A month into the program, they partnered with John Rourke who was able to successfully develop an algorithm to detect the squeal of a piglet being crushed within a few short weeks. Realizing the importance of their product through the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Rooda and Espinoza opted out of attending school for the fall semester to focus on the development of their product. Within this rigorous 90 day program, they created a prototype capable of detecting a lay on. They managed to continue their education by attending night classes that spring.
Fast forward, following several failed attempts… in 2017 the SwineTech team effectively created a product that could detect a piglet getting crushed, achieving an accuracy of greater than 94%. This led to a reduction of up to 31% in piglet crushing after the first three days of the piglets’ lives. Co-Founders Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza were recognized as one of Forbes 30 under 30 most promising companies in Manufacturing and Industry. SwineTech also received awards from MIT, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the American Farm Bureau Federation for its innovative product, SmartGuard.