A new HyLife weaning ramp has the potential to improve animal care across the industry. The in-house invention has even captured the interest of renowned animal behavioralist, Dr. Temple Grandin.
"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," shared Dr. Temple Grandin.
Grandin is a leading expert in her field, and as part of HyLife's ongoing commitment to animal welfare, the company recently engaged the professor of animal science and distinguished author. She traveled to Canada to extensively tour operations, including HyLife farms and a processing plant in Neepawa, Manitoba. During her evaluation, Grandin paid close attention to animal handling practices and was extremely impressed with the uniqueness of a recently invented HyLife ramp.
"It gets rid of the back-breaking work. It's also going to improve good treatment of the pigs as the job is so much easier. And you make a job easier, and people are going to like it a whole lot better. That is something the whole industry should have," said Grandin.
The ramp was created by HyLife's Continuous Improvement Team (CI), a group of engineers dedicated to solving challenges while improving animal welfare. After listening to farm employees, it was discovered that picking up piglets and bringing them to the employee performing the vaccination placed a strain on both the staff and animals.
"We knew there was a better way. We prioritize animal care and lean on our in-house experts and CI team to develop a creative solution. The result is a ramp that eliminates the need to pick up piglets. This means less stress and more safety for both our animals and employees," shared Lyle Loewen, Senior Vice President of Farms Division, HyLife.
The innovative ramp works as follows:
1. Piglets enter the alleyway and towards the ramp.
2. Piglets move up the ramp in groups.
3. Once up the ramp, a gate using a pulley system is lowered. Employees can easily begin picking the piglets from waist height to be vaccinated. The animals are then gently placed on a slide, depending on their sex.
4. Gradual sloping slides off each side of the station bring the piglet back down slowly and safely to ground level.
The accolades for this project keep coming. Hylife Engineers Robert Lafrenière and Barak Doell accepted the Dr. F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2023 Banff Pork Seminar. The prestigious award honours original solutions to pork production challenges in North America.
"This is a proud day for HyLife. The ramp project is an example of how we collectively prioritize animal welfare. Receiving top honours on a national stage and Dr. Grandin's endorsement of the concept, design, and execution reaffirm our efforts," said Loewen.
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.
HyLife is a fully integrated producer of premium pork. They run feed, barn, fleet, and pork plant operations in Canada, USA, and Mexico. HyLife employs more than 4,000 people globally who support one mission to take care of our communities, animals, employees, and customers.