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Two winners share the Aherne innovation prize at 2018 Banff Pork Seminar

Article-Two winners share the Aherne innovation prize at 2018 Banff Pork Seminar

Meristem Land & Science Aherne Prize winners
Two winners shared the F. X. Aherne Prize at the 2018 Banff Pork Conference. Left to right Lyle and Maaike Campbell, Birnam Pork, Arkona, Ont., Dr. Ben Willing, University of Alberta and Scott Hyshka, Mountain Vista / Sunterra Farms, Drumheller, Alta.

By Meristem Land & Science

A simple "ghost gate" and an innovative, collapsible, protective pen-within-a-pen were both winners of the 2018 F. X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2018 Banff Pork Seminar, Jan. 9 to 11, Banff, Alta.

Meristem Land & Science

 Photo: Ghost gate

Winner for what they term the ghost gate were Lyle and Maaike Campbell, Birnam Pork, Arkona, Ont. Winner of the loose housing pen-within-a-pen innovation was Scott Hyshka, Mountain Vista / Sunterra Farms, Drumheller, Alta.

Meristem Land & Science

 Photo: Isolation gates

The Aherne Prize has developed quite a reputation in the pork industry says Dr. Ben Willing, of the University of Alberta, chair of the F. X. Aherne Prize committee. He says the quality and number of applicants is strong each year.

The prize is named after industry icon, the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta and a major force for science-based progress in the western Canadian pork industry.

"This prize recognizes individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology," says Willing. "Innovation is a powerful word today in any industry and we are pleased at Banff Pork Seminar to acknowledge these grassroots innovations in the pork industry."

The ghost gate slips in place behind gilts in the crate at a breeding time giving more control over the animal and preventing interruption from other animals in the pen area nearby. The result is improved productivity, profitability and working conditions.

The collapsible pen is in every loose pen. It can be opened to house an animal that requires segregation for additional nutrition or refuge from aggression. When not in use it folds up against the pen wall. The isolated animal remains in the loose pen with her pen mates. This allows the sow to re-enter the group when fit. The pen design does not require additional space in the farm to be set aside for sick or poor sows.

The Banff Pork Seminar is coordinated by the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, in cooperation with Alberta Pork, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and other pork industry representatives from across Canada. A Special Report on the 2018 Seminar is available at

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