Maple Leaf barn manager Helmut Janz of Zhoda, MB said he was working in his office one day recently when two of his staff had to book off to see their doctors.
Both women said they were suffering carpal tunnel injuries from the large number of piglets they were processing every day.
One of them said the pigs were dropping out of her hands, raising concern for safety and comfort of both the animals and the staff.
When Janz asked how they thought the problem could be resolved, his staff told him they needed a better way to hold the piglets steady while they did necessary procedures.
“I banged my head against the wall for a couple of days and came up with a PTO shaft on a knuckle – there’s a knuckle on a PTO shaft that gets me the motion I needed.”
Janz built a cradle on the top of the assembly and welded a bracket at the bottom, so it can be attached to a wall or a processing cart.
The adjustable tool allows workers to strap the piglet into the cradle, holding it securely and comfortably while they work.
The piglet processing arm is making their job so much easier, the workers have threatened to quit if he ever took it away, said Janz, whose creative solution earned him the 2014 F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production, presented at Banff Pork Seminar on Jan. 22.
Presenter Michael Dyck, a swine production researcher and professor at the University of Alberta, said the award was created to honour the legacy of nutritionist Frank Aherne, who had played a major role in the development and growth of Banff Pork Seminar up until his passing late in 2005.
Also presented during the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar were the finalists in the R.O. Ball Young Scientist Award, named for retired nutritionist Ron Ball, also a professor and researcher at the U of A and a long-time organizer of the seminar.
First and second place this year were both awarded to U of A graduate students, Xun Zhou and Natalie May.
May earned second place, including a grant of $250, for her research on analyzing proteins to determine fertility in boars. May’s work adds a tool that can be used in combination with existing methods of sire evaluation to select boars for fertility.
Zhou was awarded first place with a grant of $500 for his work on using air-classified canola meal to manage digestibility and fibre content in swine diets.
Air classification separates components of solvent extracted canola, enabling the producer to reduce fibre while retaining energy in the ration.
Judges reviewed four finalists out of 10 entries, whose research projects were described on posters displayed during the 2014 seminar and published in the proceedings, Advances in Pork Production, Vol. 25.
Copies of the proceedings can be ordered online at •
— By Brenda Kossowan