Loose housing improvement for sows wins Aherne prize

Isolation crates collapse and can be stored against the pen wall when not needed.
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An isolation crate developed for an Alberta sow farm is one of two winners of this year’s F. X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production.

The prize, named in honour of the late Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition at the University of Alberta, is awarded for innovative solutions to production challenges. Sunterra Farms production manager Scott Hyshka was named co-winner at the Banff Pork Seminar last month for developing an isolation crate for loose housing system.

The device is used at Mountain Vista Farm, a 4,000-sow operation near Drumheller that uses competitive feeding shoulder stalls in its open housing pens. However, this feeding system can cause problems because aggressive sows can result in others not getting enough feed.

The collapsible crate can be opened to house an animal that requires segregation for additional nutrition or as a refuge. When not needed, it can be folded up against the pen wall. A sow can rejoin the group when fit.

The other co-winner of the Aherne prize was Ontario’s Birnam Pork for a “ghost gate” that can be placed behind animals while breeding them.

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