WPX ’15 New Product Tour: Porky’s Pick Up aims to save stress

Loss of a pig in a finishing facility is tough. There’s that cash income you were counting on and, of course, now you have to get in that pen to remove the pig. Chains and drags have been common, but Ro-Main, a company founded by Canadian hog farmers, has found a new German-built product that offers an innovative solution.

They’re calling it Porky’s Pick Up, and it caught the eye of the New Product Tour panel for its innovative approach to a challenging problem. Jack Labrecque, product manager, explained that his company would not have chosen to distribute the product unless it met key criteria, including safe handling and an innovative approach.

Essentially, the product is a powered sled you can walk behind, or you can attach a rolling trolley so you can ride along with the machine, if necessary. Top speed is 3.1 miles per hour moving forward, which is great when moving from inside the building to another location. Slower speeds are possible. In reverse, the machine travels at 1.6 mph.

Labrecque said he discovered the product when he saw new products from EuroTier, a major European livestock show. “I saw the video showing this. I had my list and my hand sketches. This fills in all my criteria,” he said.

Distribution rights

Built by Meier-Brakenberg, a German firm, the machine has rollers with teeth on its front half that can be used to grab a dead animal and pull it onto the sled. The power is not sufficient to just pull the animal up. The action, Labrecque explained, involves starting the rollers and essentially driving forward. You are levering the animal up onto the sled for transport. To unload you simply reverse the rollers.

The machine is 21 inches wide, 3.7 feet long, and the handle is 3.3 feet off the ground.

The New Product Tour panel members asked about battery life for the electric motor.

“You can remove many dead pigs,” Labrecque said. “You don’t want as many dead pigs as you can remove with this machine on a charge.” He added that it will recharge overnight and seldom would a user need to run the machine all day, so he asserts the machine has adequate battery life.

He noted that when the pig is fully loaded on the cart, most of the weight is over the axle for better handling when you move the animal from barn to disposal area.

Maximum weight that’s been tested is up to 330 pounds, with no problem. It’s not recommended for sows, but for feeder pigs.

“For sows we’re using the Hercules’ Arm because it is more suitable for all types of housing in sow farms,” Labrecque noted. Hercules’ Arm is Ro-Main’s own design and has been one of the company’s best sellers in the United States. Porky’s Pick Up completes the product line by offering a solution for removing dead feeder pigs.

Labrecque said interest at the show was very high. He also noted that there are no real competitors for the product, and a patent has been applied for in the North American market.

The machine’s balance means it can handle gravel and other level farm surfaces for moving pigs. In addition, it can move from barn to barn.

“My idea is to use it on our own farm,” Labrecque said. “All our products are tested on our farms. For the one on our farm I want to add a little basket because the buildings are bigger and bigger. When I go around my farm once a day, I can go around with medications and use it as a Segway. If there’s a dead pig, I just open the pen and take out the animal and finish my rounds.”

Order time for the product is about six weeks. Labrecque noted that at World Pork Expo on opening day they sold five of the units.

Panel member Dale Stevermer said the machine is quiet, and it would not be much different entering the pen at a walk. In larger pens, there could be issues with curious pigs crowding the machine, but that would be a rare problem.

Ro-Main is a family owned company with Labrecque’s father and uncles. It’s based in Quebec, Canada. For more information, visit ro-main.com.

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