Weigh scale and handling system win F.X. Aherne hog innovation awards

The two innovations awarded prizes boost profitability and reduce stress

Two hog innovations were recognized with the F.X. Aherne Prize at the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar.

Ontario producers Lyle and Maaike Campbell of Birnam Pork won for an innovative piglet weigh scale which boosted profitability in that operation. And Greg Feenstra and Dave Uttecht of Heartland Pork LLC in Alpena, South Dakota, won for their “E Z Tub” hog-handling innovation, which significantly reduces stress on animals and people.

The award is named after industry icon, the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta.

The Campbells’ innovative and low-cost scale was built onto a lightweight base that is easily transportable and washable. A lightweight container on top is tall enough that 18-day-old piglets won’t jump out, but low enough to be reachable. The scale design allows for numbers on the scale to be viewable from all sides.

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photo: Birnam Pork

The E Z Hog Tub hog handler helps reduce stress on pigs and people during loading, produced faster loading and lower plant losses. The primary cause of stress when moving animals through an alleyway is that handlers have a tendency to move too aggressively, crowding pigs to encourage movement. That causes animals to bunch up and balk at transitions such as doorways.

The E Z Tub circular tub-style design works with pigs’ natural response patterns to aid in the loading of market hogs. The pen and gate configuration lets the handler work where hogs can see them and uses the pigs’ circling behaviour to set up a flow onto the trailer. That reduces stress and produces fewer discounts for injured animals at the packing plant.

Additional information on the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar website.

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