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Beds For Baby Pigs Made From Crop Residue
It was April Fool's Day 2004, when Darryl Metcalfe's veterinarian diagnosed scours in a litter of pigs and wondered out loud why someone hadn't invented a one-time use, biodegradable mat.
  Metcalfe jumped on the idea right away. He contacted his friend, Tony Schmitt, an experienced ag business entrepreneur and marketer.
  With 5 1/2 million sows in the U.S., Schmitt recognized the potential. He immediately started the patent process and began looking for a manufacturer. After making about 80 calls, he connected with a company in his own state - Mat, Inc. in Floodwood, Minn. The company manufactures wood and corn fiber mulch to create hydroseeding mats that are used along highways, as well as other biodegradable wood and corn byproduct mats. Owners and workers at Mat, Inc. were excited about developing a new product.
  About 200 trials and nine months later, Compost-A-Mat was born. Mat, Inc. supervisor Mike Clark mixed various resins and biocomponents to come up with a durable, inexpensive product. The mats last 10-14 days - enough time to allow pigs to get a healthy start in the farrowing pen. The mat weighs about 2 pounds and measures 30 by 36-in. by about 1/4-in. thick. Metcalfe and Schmitt expect to have stronger and larger mats on the market soon for nursery and wean-to-finish areas. New mats are used for each batch of pigs. Made of at least 50 percent corn byproducts plus wood byproducts, the mulch is heated to eliminate bacteria. It is roller pressed, cut to size and stacked on pallets for shipment.
  Rubber mats have been standard for years, but producers know that despite washing between litters, bacteria builds up after time, which can spread disease from litter to litter.
  Mats retail for $2.35 apiece for pallet quantities (400 per pallet). Once discarded, the mats decompose in about two weeks.
  Metcalfe and Schmitt created USA Solutions to market and sell Compost-A-Mat. They plan to sell directly to large operators as well as find agriculture business owners to be dealers for the mats.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, USA Solutions, P.O. Box 303, Waite Park, Minn. 56387 (ph 320 250-7687; email: buyit@ cloudnet.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2