Farmscape for September 5, 2012 (Episode 4230)
A device developed at the University of Guelph is helping relieve some of the stress that's caused when swine barn workers are forced to euthanize compromised piglets.
The Zephyr, developed at the University of Guelph as an alternative to blunt force trauma, uses a non-penetrating captive bolt to cause a traumatic impact with the skull rendering the pig immediately insensible.
To help validate the device researchers with the Prairie Swine Centre tested it on compromised piglets at the centre's research barn and in commercial operations.
Research scientist in ethology Dr. Jennifer Brown reports the device was 100 percent effective.
Clip-Dr. Jennifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre:
We were studying 50 piglets in each of four weight categories, so ranging from three to nine kilos so up to a 20 pound weaner pig.
These were pigs that were destined for euthanasia because they were compromised for what ever reason at the commercial barns and we used the device and then monitored signs of sensibility to ensure the device was working properly.
Certainly it delivers a quick trauma to the skull and renders the pigs immediately insensible.
We also monitored breathing and heart rate to ensure it was effective.
We used it in a large commercial herd, a Big Sky Farms barn, and we also used it in our Prairie Swine Centre barn.
We found it basically 100 percent effective in all cases and we actually have retained one of the Zephyr guns here in our barn and are using it currently for euthanasia.
Certainly we find that barn staff find it to be a much more acceptable method in terms of it's very reliable and more aesthetically pleasant than the previous methods.
The Zephyr's designers at the University of Guelph are now seeking a company capable of taking on commercial scale manufacturing of the device.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council