Farrowing crate solution helps reduce preweaning losses

Heat/light supplementation platform creates draft-free microclimates for two neighboring litters.

January 17, 2020

3 Min Read

Iowa-based agricultural technology startup FarrPro Inc. was named one of this year's recipients of the Dr. F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production with its Haven product.

The award was presented at the 2020 Banff Pork Seminar to FarrPro chief executive officer and co-founder Amos Petersen, by Dr. Ben Willing, University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne Prize committee.

The prize is named after the late Frank Aherne, a scholar and major contributor to science-based progress in the Canadian pork industry.

"The Aherne Prize recognizes individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology," Willing explained.

FarrPro's Haven is a heat and light supplementation platform for use in farrowing crates that creates draft-free microclimates for two neighboring litters. Its design delivers highly efficient heat energy to piglets and promotes healthy creep behavior while significantly reducing preweaning mortality and energy use, the company said in an announcement.

"In Iowa, we understand the importance of supplemental heat for newborn pigs and recognize that our friends to the north have many of the same environmental challenges we have here," FarrPro co-founder Chris Hanson said. "We are thrilled that the prize committee recognized our Haven as being an innovative solution to an age-old problem in the industry. As we look to expand sales outside of the U.S., the most logical place to go considering climate, proximity and large number of farrowing operations is Canada."

According to information from the Banff Pork Seminar, Iowa State University's agricultural and biosystems engineering department recently completed a pilot study of Haven units on a commercial farrowing farm in Ogden, Iowa.

The result of that study showed a significant reduction in preweaning mortality, which was 12.04% in heat lamp litters and 9.67% in Haven litters -- a 20% reduction. With the U.S. average born alive litter size being approximately 13.5 pigs, this translates into 0.32 more pigs weaned per litter. The study also showed that Haven units used an average of 3.25 kWh per day, while the heat lamp averaged 6 kWh per day -- a 46% reduction in energy use.

In preparation for additional sales and wider distribution, FarrPro has added to its team by recently hiring veteran Des Moines, Iowa, businessman Sheldon Ohringer to serve as president. Ohringer has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of sales, acquisitions, mergers, initial public offerings and billion-dollar valuations.

FarrPro currently has Haven units in more than 300 commercial farrowing crates in three midwestern states and is now taking orders for new units to be delivered in late February.

Also receiving an F.X. Aherne Prize was South West Ontario Veterinary Services in Stratford, Ont., for its Hammock swine restraint.

Developed by Tess Faulkner and Gillian Greaves, the Hammock restrains the pig to allow both the operator and the animal to relax. Instead of using a sorting board or their body to restrain the animal, animal care staff can place the piglet into the restraint, keeping both hands free to safely operate euthanasia devices such as a captive bolt gun, thus ensuring accurate placement of devices.

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