Pig farmer proves that great ideas can come from anywhere
Canadian pig farmer Mary Haugh had a problem; multiple heart attacks put her husband out of commission, and she alone had to somehow control and herd their 3,000 hogs through the barn. Traditional methods of getting pigs to move are to use a stick, an electric prod or a "chase board," a length of wood the farmer wields horizontally to angle the pigs in a particular direction.
Haugh then came up with a roller that dispenses a swath of red cloth--a sort of farm version of the retractable "lane guides" that movie theaters use. Working with her brother Peter Jones, a mechanical engineer, she developed a 30-pound stainless steel prototype that retracted fabric like a windowshade and could unspool 50 feet of material. The pair also designed it so one end could attach to existing stabling, enabling one-person operation.
The resulting product rolls up neatly, can easily be carried and deployed by one person, and meets Canadian standards for biosecurity as it can be washed with the pressure washers most farmers already own to clean other equipment. More importantly, it works far better than anything that came before it--testing trials reveal it saves 70% of the time needed to herd hogs, which translates to hours per week.