A ramp designed by pork company HyLife for vaccinating weanlings has potential to improve animal care across the industry, the company says.
The ramp was created by HyLife’s Continuous Improvement Team (CI), and has received approval from renowned animal behaviouralist, Dr. Temple Grandin. Grandin was brought in by HyLife to tour its farms and processing facility at Neepawa, Man.
The company says it designed the ramp (pictured below) in response to employee feedback that picking up piglets and bringing them to another employee performing vaccination placed a strain on both the staff and the animals.
The system works by moving weanlings up the ramp in groups. Once they are up the ramp, a gate using a pulley system is lowered. Employees can then begin picking the piglets from waist height to be vaccinated. The animals are then gently placed on a slide, depending on their sex. Gradual sloping slides — off each side of the station — bring the piglet back down slowly and safely to ground level.
“This innovative system should be in every sow farm for vaccinating weaned piglets…I can’t say enough good things about it. It should go industry-wide. I was amazed how well those little pigs used the ramp; that’s the kind of stuff that makes handling easier,” says Grandin.
The ramp project has received honours on a national stage, including the Dr. F.X Ahern Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2023 Banff Pork Seminar. HyLife is now investing in the ramps across all sow barns and continues to look for creative ways to improve animal care and employee safety, the company says.