New chute improves vaccination accuracy and lessens stress on pork operations
In an effort to improve vaccination accuracy and efficacy on pork operations, while also reducing stress and other issues that come with vaccinating pigs, Brad Hennen of Ghent, Minn., former president of the Minnesota Pork Board and account manager for Fast Genetics, has created a new device for the industry.
During the Minnesota Pork Congress Feb. 20-22, Hennen introduced and displayed the Hennen Pig Chute, which recently gained attention as one of the top 10 finalists in the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, earning Hennen $10,000 in startup funds.
Today, the Hennen Pig Chute is manufactured by a Hutterite colony west of Watertown, S.D., and can be purchased for $7,000, which includes delivery, setup and operational training.
Creation of the chute
In an article published by The Minnesota Mascot, authored by Scott Thoma, Hennen explains he came up with the idea for the Hennen Pig Chute while helping his dad and brother work cattle.
“I started thinking about this project after attending the National Pork Board task force meeting on Feb. 1, 2018,” says Hennen in the article. “They were discussing a way to prevent broken needles in pork during vaccination, and it got me thinking. It’s funny, but pork producers have never been able to come up with a way to restrain pigs during vaccination.”
After presenting his idea to the task force, Hennen was directed to a packing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, where they utilize a conveyor belt to stun pigs. With this in mind, Hennen began creating components for what would later become the Hennen Pig Chute.
He took these components and his idea to Doug Anderson at the Marshall Machine Shop in Marshall, Minn., and Anderson created a prototype.
How it works
Hennen explains the chute works by channeling 10 to 40 pound pigs through an aluminum chute via poly panels and a pair of conveyor belts, which lifts pigs off of the ground and transports them along the length of the chute.
Since pigs don’t naturally move in a single file line, Hennen says the chute has been designed to make them come through one at a time, which makes it much easier to vaccinate them.
“It’s all designed to get the pig’s feet up off of the ground. Once the pig is lifted up slightly, it has nowhere to go until after it’s out of the chute,” he says.
Hennen also explains the chute can be set up in a pen or alleyway, entering or exiting a building or room within a barn or wherever a producer is already moving pigs.
Hennen’s new device provides a multitude of benefits including improving vaccination accuracy and efficacy, ensuring correct dosage, reducing stress on both animals and people, reducing bent and broken needles and saving on time and labor.
“A typical vaccine given to a young pig costs roughly one dollar, and I want to make sure producers get a full return on their investment,” Hennen says. “This return is much more likely to be high if they get the vaccine right where it’s supposed to be, which is behind the ear in the muscle.”
Traditionally, vaccinating pigs requires several people – one to hold the pig and one to administer the vaccination. However, as pigs get bigger, it becomes much more difficult, time consuming and exhausting for producers. Because pigs move and squirm, it is also fairly common for needles to break off in pigs as well.
Since the Hennen Pig Chute conveyor is controlled by a foot pedal, it allows a single individual to start and stop the belts while adjusting speed and administering vaccinations. The chute also sits at slat level, which allows the individual who is administering the vaccination to sit down while pigs are channeled along in front of them.
“The pig chute alleviates many problems, while also putting less stress on the pig. It creates more effective disease control, better management of dosage of vaccines and less workman’s compensation claims,” notes Hennen.
“Farmers are also able to vaccinate more pigs this way in a shorter period of time than ever before, and it’s a lot less strenuous this way,” he adds.
In fact, Hennen notes at top speed, if pigs are coming through the chute nose to tail, producers can process as many as 3,000 pigs per hour.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.