Iowa Swine Day 2022: Technology Adoption Challenges and Opportunities
MODEERATOR WILL TAYLOR - All right, we'll go ahead and move into our second talk entitled Technologies Adoption Challenges and Opportunities by Dr. Caleb Shull. Caleb's the Director of Research and Development with The Maschhoffs LLC. Caleb spent nine years providing leadership to an applied swine research program that conducts around 25 studies annually with cutting-edge research in the areas in nutrition, health, genetics and management. He's contributed to over 40 peer-reviewed publications in several popular press articles. Caleb received a Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture Finance, a Master's of Science in Animal Sciences and a Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Science from the University of Illinois.
Let's welcome our speaker. (audience applauding) PRESENTER CALEB SHULL - Thank you. There, is that better? - [Emcee] Check, check. (mic rumbling) PRESENTER CALEB SHULL - All right, there we go.
Thank you for inviting me. I'm honored to be a guy from Illinois coming and speaking at the Iowa Swine Day. So, excited to be here. I got asked to talk on technology adoption challenges and opportunities, and I've been doing research for 16 years, including my graduate program, and I still don't feel like an expert in technology adoption.
But I certainly have made a lot of mistakes and have learned a few things and had a few successes along the way. So, my goal today is just to share with you some of the things that have worked and some of the things that I have worked and talk about future opportunities moving forward. I would like to point out that technology, most people, when they think of technology, they think of devices or applications, and that's certainly true. And I think it represents a huge opportunity for our industry. I would like to broaden that for the discussion today to include other technologies though, whether it be nutritional, genetics, health management, there's just a ton of opportunity for our industry. And I think it's a tremendous time for technology adoption for a few reasons that I'll get into here in a little bit.
For those of you who don't know The Maschhoffs, it is a 5th-generation family-owned farm based outta Carlyle, Illinois. We have operations in seven states across the Midwest and harvest just under 4 million pigs a year. So, to steal a page out of Peter's book, "Barns are gonna be completely autonomous in three years." (audience laughs) That was a joke. (chuckles) I don't think that's gonna be the case. But I do think, I'm very optimistic about some of the things that he mentioned in terms of, for our US industry.
But I do think it is a tremendous opportunity for innovation for various reasons. First, we've got a lot of challenges facing us. We've got an animal that's increased drastically in reproductive capacity over the last 10 years.
So, this is a chart with PigChamp data. The black line is total born. But we've also increased sow mortality and piglet mortality along the way. And it's pretty clear that we've got an animal that requires more intense management than the animals that we had 10 to 20 years ago. While we're talking about management, we've also got a workforce that presents a lot of challenges.
We've got a workforce that's turning over, we've got fewer and fewer animal husbandry, skilled people in our industry. And we've got more and more bilingual farm operations that we've gotta figure out how to deal with the communication, and we've gotta continue to invest in training the next generation. Not only do we have labor challenges and a pig that's more difficult to manage, we also have what seems to be growing challenges with managing health.
I cringe, and I'm sure some of you do, too, every time you get wind of a disease break. I don't see that going away. If anything, I see that continuing to get harder and harder to manage. And the diseases of today seem to be more devastating each and every year. So, we're gonna have to have tools that help us proactively manage health and disease challenges. Also, I was talking to Dr. Holtkamp this morning
and he mentioned that, "Our industry, if we compare it to other countries, really is lagging behind on some of the productivity metrics, but we have an advantage on feed costs that keep us competitive. We also have facilities and a labor model that puts us in the bottom third in terms of cost on that bucket as well," he mentioned. And I think, if you compare us to other countries, our facilities are typically gonna be bigger and maybe less sophisticated and require less labor, or we put less labor inputs into those facilities, than other countries. So, it represents a tremendous opportunity, in my opinion, for technology to fill some of those challenges and gaps that we're facing with as an industry. Oh, by the way, we also have input prices that have doubled over the last two years, what it cost to feed a pig.
And the price of hogs has maintained good margins. So, we've got more margin opportunity to deal with when it comes to investing in technologies. So, it's a tremendous time in our industry to really focus on getting technology into our production systems and adopt it. So, I think we laid out the thesis for why we need technology.
The big question is then, why have we not had more technology adoption? If we compare this wine industry to beef or dairy or even crops, we probably lag behind in some degrees. And I guess you can make the case that there's some facility constraints that limit our ability, the low ceilings, the environments that we raise pigs in, can be a little more corrosive than doing work outside. And there is some merit to that.
I think you could also make the point that we've got a margin structure that's maybe, on a per pig or per animal unit basis, not quite as attractive as dairy or beef. But I do think there's some other reasons why we've continued to struggle and we'll get into to those as we go throughout this talk. I think E.M. Rogers put together a publication on innovation adoption and the curve for getting technology adopted. And he kinda fit the range of outcomes into a bell-shaped curve with the innovators and early adopters being on the far left of the curve and the laggards being on the far right of the curve with the vast majority of the people falling in the middle. And what we've seen, or at least what I've witnessed, is we consistently get technology into those innovators and a few of the early adopters, but we really struggle getting the vast majority to adopt technologies, in a lot of cases, especially when we start talking about some of the smart technologies that are out there in today's marketplace.
So, why is this the case? I actually sent my slide deck to one of our GMs of our operating regions and he replaced that previous slide with this slide. And I think it probably actually describes the situation a little better than my slide. We've got some early adopters that are saying, "Yay, shiny new thing," and the cool kids have something new to play with. And I think that's really what we see. And then the rest of the population is sitting there looking either, "Hmm, sounds interesting, but I don't really think I'm ready for that." Or they're saying, "What are those weirdos, like me, up to?" So, I think that's really the challenge, is how do we get across this chasm? How do we reach out to those people that are in the vast majority and get them bought into what we're trying to accomplish, which is finding margin opportunities and getting consistently better at raising pigs than our competing countries and competitors within the US.
So, that same publication by E.M. Rogers put together five attributes or five factors that affect the gradient of the innovation adoption curve. The first was the actual attributes of the innovation itself. So, the cost, the benefit, the difficulty to implement it, really just focusing around specific details of that innovation. The second one he identified was who was involved in the decision making.
We all know that if, depending on the level, within an organization that's making the decision and the number of people involved in making the decision, that can certainly speed up or slow down the pace of adoption. How innovation is communicated to the user? Communication is so important. And we're gonna talk about it more throughout the talk.
But how that communication is relayed is extremely important. The culture and social system of an organization. If you have an organization that is willing to accept change, it's a lot easier to adopt technologies than the one, and the type of technologies that you can push into that organization is completely different than the one that's really reluctant to change. So, leaders of your organization, think about that, in terms of how you're promoting or not promoting change. And then lastly, the change agents' promotion efforts. We all know those people that are really influential and bring others with them.
If we can find those people and get them to be believers in technology, they can go a long ways towards advancing adoption. The interesting part was only one of those five was really detailed around the what behind the technology, the other four deal with how the technology is rolled out. So, I think that's probably where a lot of attempts to put technologies in the systems have failed is they haven't focused enough on the people side and focus more on trying to just shove technologies down on people's throat. With that said, the attributes of the technology are extremely important and you're dead in the water if you don't have good attributes to begin with. So, let's talk about a few attributes that at least I've found make a technology successful. First is they have to have a compelling value proposition.
This includes both the cost and the benefit. And really, that's the first and foremost attribute that I think we really need to make sure we're defining. And that's a lot easier said than done, in many cases. The second would be easy to implement.
Really, disruptive technologies have been a real struggle for us to get pushed into our system. And in some cases, that's kinda shifted us more towards focusing on what I call backdoor innovations that we can do without disrupting our production system. So, that certainly needs to be considered, when you're developing technologies, is how much it impacts the production operations team and their ability to deal with that change. Does it make the job more enjoyable? It's a lot easier to get technology adopted if people are pulling for it and asking for it because it makes their life more enjoyable. So, the more that we can consider the livelihoods and the daily actions that people do and how it affects them, the more successful we're gonna be at getting technology pushed into our industry. Fourth, very similar to the third one, is most of our people, at least within our organization, are very compassionate towards the animals that they take care of.
And if we can show that or demonstrate that a technology helps provide, helps them provide better care for their animals or improves the wellbeing or health of the animals, certainly, they're willing to sacrifice to make that happen. And lastly, we have to have predictable outcomes. Even if a technology works nine times out of 10, that one time that it doesn't work, you're gonna hear about it, and you may have lost a believer from that point forward. So, if it doesn't work some of the time, which there's very few technologies that work every single time, you better be able to explain why it didn't work and work with the people that are using it to help them understand the limitations and the strengths of the technology.
All right, I wanna go through just a few examples of technologies that we've found to be successful at implementing and just discuss a few of the attributes around them to kinda get you thinking about moving forward, how do we position technologies to be successful. First and foremost was antibiotics and vaccines. It's a broad bucket, I know. But for the most part, we haven't had a lot of pushback of getting these implemented. For the most part, you see fairly quick returns on use of these products through improvement in animal health and reduction in mortality.
And for the most part, there're some that are more expensive than others. But for the most part, these are fairly low-cost investments, so the value proposition is typically pretty compelling. It's fairly easy to implement. One could argue whether using injectable antibiotics or vaccines is easy in today's environment, 'cause getting pigs vaccinated can sometimes be a challenge. But we've been doing that for decades, so it's not a new process that people are having to learn from square one. And you can also make the argument that, is it enjoyable vaccinating a bunch of pigs? I actually volunteered to do that with my team a week ago and I remembered how outta shape I am.
It can be a little bit taxing, but I think, overall, not having to drag dead pigs out and improving the health certainly makes the job of the caretaker more enjoyable. It does obviously improve animal health, and like I said, it provides fairly predictable outcome. So, that's a good kinda example of a technology that checks a lot of boxes. Nutritional technologies. I got zinc and phytase, as a couple of examples, are a good example of what I call backdoor innovation technologies that, typically, we can run those through an R&D model and find what the value is or at least understand the response curve of those technologies.
So, it is fairly predictable. And also, we can implement that without a lot of impact or disruption to the business. So, that's been a big priority for us. And today's feed cost environment's gonna continue to receive a lot of focus. Genetic improvement follows a similar trend to nutritional technologies, especially on the terminal side.
Changing terminal genetics doesn't really rock the boat for most employees. On the maternal side, there may be some characteristics of specific female lines that may need a little bit different management. But for the most part, they're fairly easy to change. People get a different semen tube show up, it doesn't cause major changes. And we can do trials and demonstrate the differences between lines and understand the value proposition of making those genetic changes. So, that's one that we've spent a lot of effort on, because we feel like we can get a high percentage of that total value actually captured within our system.
Post-cervical AI is another technology that we've been successful with. It's one that does have a value proposition, but it's probably not as great as some of the others. We do get to reduce semen concentration with use of PCAI, so there is a value proposition there. But it is one that, at least within our system, has been received pretty well by the employees. And in terms of the process improvement, it has produced fairly repeatable outcomes. Web-based controllers.
I have one kind of on the opposite spectrum. We've been implementing this on all of our new barns with very little path to a clear value proposition. And that's largely because we still have a very small percentage of our sites that have web-based controllers, where we're actually getting that information. So, you need a certain volume of data from sites coming in before you can actually build an infrastructure around it. But yet, we've still made the decision to continue to promote that.
And we haven't had a lot of pushback from a lot of our growers. And I think that's partly because the growers have the ability to see into their barns and have most of them work full-time jobs outside of caring for our pigs, so they have transparency and it improves the job of taking care of their pigs. Pen gestation gilt training dividers. Our pen gestation uses the shower electronic sow eating stations where we have one station per large group pen. We implemented those several years ago.
So, those are the system that we went with when we made that change several years ago. What we ran into is major challenges in training gilts. So, we made a capital improvement to go back and put the panels, the same panels that were in the feeding station into our gilt divider or gilt developers. Very simple and easy to do. All it took was money.
And it drastically reduced the amount of labor input. If you did put the pencil to paper, I don't know that you're gonna see a great return on this, but the people were asking for it. The people no longer had to shove a bunch of gilts through during training and it reduced the stress of the animal. So, another example of a technology that maybe didn't have a tremendous value or return on paper, but certainly has been successful for us.
A few mixed-success technology examples. Supplemental startup nutrition. Whether it be nutrient-dense feeds or nutrient-dense liquids, we've been able to demonstrate through trials and putting it through R&D and field evaluations that we do get fairly consistent results with these technologies, if we're managing it and implementing it correctly. The big challenge here is if it's a dry product, are you going to put it in the farm through a bin in small quantities? No, are you gonna bag feed then? So, there's a logistical constraint there. Liquid products.
What happens if you've got fills over multiple days per week? And how do you administer that to the entire population when you only got one water line per room? So, there's some logistical challenges there that we've faced that have led to some less predictable outcomes. So, I'm still a believer in supplemental startup nutrition. We're working to try to figure out what is the best way to actually implement that, so that we get the results that we know through an R&D effort we see pretty consistently. Multi-dose bag semen is another example of a technology that, on paper, makes some sense.
However, when you actually go to implement it, there's keeping temperatures constant, avoiding semen settling, handling of the semen. We ran into to issues with unpredictable outcomes because of some of those requirements around handling of semen. So, again, another technology that the people side needs to be considered. One, in very similar fashion, is single fixed-time AI. On paper, you do the math and there's a very compelling return on single fixed-time AI. However, that whole process is pretty contingent on a fixed-time interval between dose administration and insemination.
And for those of you who work on sow farms, we all know that people don't show up, things happen on a sow farm. And when things, you know what hits the fan. If you've got a technology that's very dependent on time and we don't hit those timing, it leads to variability in outcomes. So, again, the people side and the process has to be considered when we're rolling technologies out. That was a hard lesson learned for us.
Microbial and phytogenic technologies is one that is an example of more of a backdoor technology that we can implement fairly easy. The challenge on this one is getting consistent results through our R&D efforts side. I still am a believer in these buckets of technologies, but we get variable results. So, we still got more work to do in this bucket to really define what the value is that we're getting from feeding these technologies.
And some are better than others, I would say, in terms of the ones that we've evaluated. I put on autosort. This is a technology that's been around a long time, but I think is another good example of one, on paper, makes a ton of sense and seems like it would be very attractive. However, when you're starting to change the behavior of the pig and forcing it to go certain places, that becomes a challenge.
And then you got a system that requires a different level of management. One, that we haven't consistently provided, that became a challenge too. And there was a risk associated with that technology if we don't execute that well. Certain systems that have maybe more oversight over their barns and the owners are a little closer to the barns may work well.
And I know some people that haven't been able to make that work well, but for a large systems, it can become a challenge. So, the million-dollar question is, how do we create a consistent, compelling value proposition that we can actually implement and that's repeatable over time? We're at a disadvantage right out the gate, in my opinion, because we benchmark ourselves off of cost of production. Technologies, however, are measured off of their ability to deliver value. So, there's immediately a little bit of a disconnect in philosophies.
And it really comes down to my mind, just tipping the scales, in terms of cost versus benefit. And we know that the cost, or at least in our system, cost gets a little bit more emphasis and more waiting than value drivers, because it's easy to read an invoice and it's easy to punch numbers in a calculator and see how much it's actually costing you. The people side, at the time, the relationship management, the business distraction, people are gonna come to you pretty quickly if you're interrupting their daily life. You're gonna hear about it. It's a lot more difficult to measure the value or the impact on the positive side that you're having.
The more that we can do to identify tangible metrics and an improvement in those metrics, whether it be mortality, whether it be average daily gain, feed conversion, pigs per sow per year, the more we can run it through an R&D model, I think the more confidence that we can get. The challenge is some of these traits like mortality, for example, especially sow mortality, are not very conducive for an R&D model. So, how do we get technologies that help our sow mortality problem, that help our pig mortality problem, that help our nursery enteric gut challenges that we've dealing with as an industry. We need to continue to do R&D efforts, but I think we also need to really scrutinize how we're engineering these technologies, from a cost standpoint, to keep those to where we can still be attractive enough, to start trying some of these.
But also, we need to make sure we're identifying working on some of the intangible value drivers, too, to help with that sell and convince our production teams to take that leap. I think another big opportunity, on the value side, is just creating business transparency. I mentioned, our workforce, a growing percentage, at least in a lot of our Iowa finishing, is independent contracting managed. And many of our production partners, like I said, have full-time jobs. Even though the intent might be good, we don't have people in our barns 24 hours a day. So, how do we create transparency into what's going on, when our people aren't there, so that we can identify problems before they become major issues.
I think, that's another way, whether it be sow farms or wean-to-market, creating transparency is another way we can create value opportunities. So, another reason, in my opinion, why technology adoption often fails is because the people developing the technologies, whether it be startups, whether it be academic resources, whether it be IT companies, oftentimes, they're not the people that are using the technology. And oftentimes, don't even talk to the people using the technology. And they take a technology and wonder why it's not being used. There's this huge divide between those people. We have to work on bridging that gap, not just at the implementation support phase, but also, at the idea phase, 'cause they're gonna help contribute to how that technology is put together in a way that they can actually use it.
There's gaps in perspective, there's gaps in communication, how we communicate to those folks is different than how you may communicate to other groups as well. Kinda on that note of communicating with people and understanding the people that are involved in using your technology, within The Maschhoffs, we have widely adopted the use of DISC profiles. For those of you who don't or aren't familiar, which I'm sure most of you are, D stands for dominance, which those folks that are high D are typically results-oriented and really driven. I stands for influence. And those people are really outgoing and very people-focused.
S stands for steadiness. And those people are your steady-eddies. They're very consistent and don't like change. And C stands for compliance. Very data-oriented and fact-driven.
So, if we look at those personality types and how they deal with change, the D's tend to drive change. This can be a really good thing. If you wanna get something done, you convince them and they'll go get it done. However, if your technology gets in the way of them accomplishing their goal, they may be one of your biggest adversaries in terms of getting something accomplished. I's also tend to be very accepting of change. They like new and exciting things.
However, they may push something before it's even ready and before they understand all the facts. So, again, you need to know who you're talking to and know how to communicate with those folks. S's, those are the people that may not tell you to your face that you're crazy, but they're thinking it inside. (chuckles) (audience laughs) They hate change and they are gonna do everything they can to resist change. C's are typically very skeptical for change.
You have to provide data, you have to provide facts. And if you do that, you can usually convince them to make a change. So, where does this fit into the adoption curve? In my opinion, we have way more D's and I's on this side of the curve, and way more S's and C's on that side of the curve. The problem is, if you were to look at our leadership structure, we got a whole bunch of D's. If we go back to look at the distribution of the US, it's fairly balanced. Actually, the number one is I's.
If you were to look at our leadership structure, it's mostly D. And if you're looking at our production teams and the people who are actually taking care of the pigs, mostly S's and mostly C's. So, for us Ds, and I'm actually a little bit weird, I'm high D and high C. So, the way I communicate to people, I'm gonna send them an email and say, go get this done and show a data table and here's why you gotta go do it.
That doesn't work for everybody because they don't communicate in that way. So, if we're gonna implement technology, the high D's, high I's have to figure out how to communicate to the high S's and high C's. And we have to tailor the message to the people that we're working with. And we have to understand that they're not gonna wanna change in some cases. So, we have to be very persistent and work with them throughout that process. Okay, so I do think that smart technologies represent a tremendous opportunity for a number of reasons.
However, in my opinion, there's still a ton of questions. I don't want you to read all these questions. I kinda put a bunch of them up there, just to illustrate the point that there's a bunch of questions. We need to understand the value that they bring.
We need to under understand, if we can get them outta cost, that's affordable. We need to understand, what are we gonna do with all this data once we collect it? How do we turn that information into action? How do we change the behaviors of the people, once we have actions, to actually use the actionable information? So, a ton of questions that remain. Oh, by the way, do the technologies actually work in the barns that we raise pigs in? And how do we do this across a Midwest, or at least in our case, seven states with barns and unconnected locations? There's a lot of issues that we have to address. But I do think there's a ton of opportunity in this space and the industry is right for adoption. Just to go through a few examples of smart technology that we've looked at. Electronic data capture seems very basic.
I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that we still collect a lot of papers on clipboard. So, step one on this journey is just converting our clipboard information into tablets, so we can get data on a daily basis. So, a lot of question marks there is still about how we do this scale, but I think we're starting to answer a lot of those questions. We're gonna flip those question marks to yeses in the near future. Health monitoring, there's a lot of options, whether it be cough sensors, or behavior observations, I think, are coming down the pipeline.
Camera pig weight estimation is another one that's getting closer and closer, whether it be individual pigs or populations, to getting a solution for our industry there. Environmental monitoring, air quality, other types of sensors are getting better and better. Bin inventory monitoring is another one that if we can avoid feed outages and keep feed in front of our pigs and also manage bin inventory, so we don't have a bunch of feed leftover at the end of turns, there's clear value there, if we can figure out how to do it.
And technology's advancing in that space as well. Robotic washing is obviously one that, nobody likes power washing in sow farms. So, that's a low-hanging fruit if we can figure out how to do that well and that's advancing. Lastly, workflow of tools.
Sow farms, there's a lot of things that are moving, a lot of moving pieces on sow farms and in our wean-to-market systems. So, the more that we can track processes and provide tools to those people to help get the job done and track who's getting the job done and when, I think is extremely interesting opportunity. And there's some technologies in that space that are showing a lot of promise. So, just one quick example of a company that I think is doing it the right ways. And Summit SmartFarms, they've rolled up their sleeves and really got down with our production teams and understood the resources they need. And also, they're not starting with bringing a bunch of gadgets to test and plug in, they've started with an integration platform that's robust and actually was developed in the can manufacturing industry called Acumence.
So, they've started with that in mind, or with the end in mind, but we're, again, starting to collect data just off of clipboards in the barn or adding kinda sensors that do that real-time for us, whether it be temperature or other air quality or cough monitoring. We're in the process of evaluating what metrics we actually need to collect on a real-time basis to help improve our management. I think that's still a question mark. But we've figured out how to get tablets and barns and work through those connectivity solutions to get data out of our barns, so we can see it, at least daily or more real-time fashion. We're also have the capability then to look at that and receive alerts.
We're in the process of working with them to develop an index that is more predictive of future mortality events, rather than just relying on measuring dead pigs, which is obviously lagging. And then have future plans to leverage that information for analytical folks like myself or other entities to turn that information into usable actions. So, just a couple of examples of how that's working. Sounds, again, rudimentary. But we only had 10 to 20% of our barns. Probably closer to 10% that were web-based controller, so we didn't have any transparency into temperatures up until this at a large scale.
We've identified a shockingly high percentage of sites that have events where we have 10 degrees below set point occurring. And in many cases, in young pigs. And we've analyzed some of that data and already showed that we get a statistical increase in mortality during that nursery period, when these low-temperature events occur, versus when they don't occur. So, that's just one thing that we can go chase and put actions around.
Visibility to mortality and treatment trend, I think, is another one. We had no visibility into how many pigs were getting treated. Now, for these barns, we know, one, if the people have went into the barns, 'cause they've gotta submit the information daily. And then two, are they treating pigs, and with what medication? So, there's a lot that we can learn moving forward and get a lot smarter in the future.
Just a quick summary, I know I'm probably over time, but successful technology adoption requires investment in both the what and the how. We can't just focus on the what. We really need to spend more time thinking about the how and how it impacts people, so that it becomes an enabler and not a distraction.
Lastly, and it really ties into to what Kent's presentation was. I don't think we're always measuring the right things. We need to do less benchmarking off of metrics that are lagging and more benchmarking off of leading indicators. And in my opinion, we need to measure process execution as leading indicators because we have, I think, a lot of opportunities to get better at measuring execution and using those as metrics. So, that's all I've got, thank you. And I don't know if we have any time for questions.
MODERATOR WILL TAYLOR- Let's start with a round of applause for our presenter. (audience applauding) We've got a couple minutes, so if anybody has a question, raise your hand and I can get you the mic. - [audience member off camera] Caleb, what was an example of a technology where it actually, where it made their job more enjoyable? Could you just take us through that one again? PRESENTOR CALEB SHULL - Yeah, so I pointed out a few, like the gilt training pen divider is one that was a huge success.
Everybody, as soon as they heard of that, they wanted it because it took time out of their day and was a physical task of pushing gilts through those dividers. So, that's just one that I went through. PCAI was another one 'cause they can change their process and inseminate sows maybe a little more efficiently and a little more coordinated. So, there's examples that, if you think about what those people struggle with, if we can take some of those struggles away or at least bolt some benefits on technologies that capture value in other ways, I think we can get better buy in from technologies. - [audience member off camera] It's almost like that enjoyment was connected with their ability to execute well. It's like they enjoyed doing their job load as much as they want, but didn't necessarily make it fun.
PRESENTOR CALEB SHULL - Yeah, I think there's an element of, some of the work that we do is very labor-intensive, and so I think there's an element of that. But I also think, yes, most people want to do well. So, if we can help them do well and help them achieve results, then those are gonna be well received as well.
- [audience member off camera] Caleb, at the beginning, you made a comment that if you look at our industry on productivity trends, we're lagging others. I've always thought US sort of led the pack on productivity. When I look at sow herd, pork production pounds divided by sow herd, I didn't find anybody that beat the US, but I'm interested if you think there's countries that are beating the US industry. PRESENTOR CALEB SHULL - Yeah, I think we're not lagging, but I do think there's other countries that are certainly getting more pigs per sow per year.
Certainly, the weight at which we harvest factors into to what you described there. We're typically heavy harvest weights than other countries. If you look at feed conversion on a weighted basis, there's opportunities to improve our productivity, versus other countries. It was the point I was trying to make.
(Man coughs lightly) - [audience member off camera] One of the last slides that you showed indicated sometimes a disconnect between the people developing the technology and the people using the technology. So, expand a little bit upon that ways that you've maybe tried to tackle that divide, when you're implementing technologies? Thank you. PRESENTOR CALEB SHULL - Yeah, so I think it's engaging the end users getting a select group of caretakers, depending on what technology and how it's gonna be implemented, getting those folks, that are using the technology, engaged early, because how I would develop the technology is not gonna be how they would develop it and what they exactly wanna see. So, I think it's a blend of coaching them to think differently, but also, listening to the people that are using it and adapting your technology to fit their needs. - [audience member off camera] So, you kinda have to do the interpreter? PRESENTOR CALEB SHULL - (Caleb chuckles) Yeah, I think the more that you can, companies that are developing technologies can have that resource, so they can speak to the needs of the barn people and interact with people that are working with our pigs, so I think the more successful they're gonna be.
MODERATOR WILL TAYLOR - All right, I believe we're out of time for your presentation. Once again, let's thank our speaker one more time, please. (audience applauding) - Thank you.