2023 WPX: Osborne Industries launches new welfare-friendly products

Osborne features new turnaround farrowing crate, longer heating pads with color-changing element
calendar icon 28 June 2023
clock icon 4 minute read

George Eakin, President and CEO of Osborne industries, recently spoke to The Pig Site’s Sarah Mikesell at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

New turnaround farrowing crate

“This has been an interesting year, we have three new products that we are introducing that were results of last year's World Pork Expo,” said George Eakin, President, and CEO. “The first item is our new turnaround farrowing crate.”

This product was the result of a challenge from a producer who asked if there was a way to make an animal-friendly farrowing crate with Proposition 12 under question. The Osborne team developed this farrowing crate based upon animal-behavior studies as well as research that was complete in the past.

“Essentially, it allows the sow to turn around in the crate,” Eakin said. “The bottom distance inside the crate is approximately the distance from the front of their legs to their back of their legs.”

The obtrusive area allows relief for the head and the rearend of the animal as the sow turns around. It's got curved sides so that when the sow lays down, it protects the piglets from being crushed.

“It's all plastic and washable so there's no place for disease and other types of debris to get hung up,” he added. “It gives the animal comfort because it's more of a darkened den, so the animal doesn't have a lot of exposure. Pigs have natural instincts of being in a den when farrowing. We would love to have Temple Grandin, world renowned animal behaviorist, evaluate our new product and confirm that is indeed the situation.”

Osborne has performed some testing on this new farrowing product.

“This crate design is the first prototype, but it's an answer to one of the challenges that our producers have given us,” said Eakin.

New heating pad sizes

“The second thing that's new is with today's genetics having 17 to 19 piglets per litter, we wanted to extend the size requirements for heat lamps and heating pads,” Eakin said. “This past year, we developed a 6 ft. long heating pad that’s 2 ft. wide for split crates so that you can put one foot on one side and one on the other, or you can cut it in half.”

The extended size heating pads can cover more area and provide the heat that's needed for the baby piglets.

Color-changing feature for heating pads

“The third new feature of our new heating pads that we've developed involves a visual color-changing element,” said Eakin.

“I love to tell the story that inspired our new product design, because it's based on a beer 30 commercial,” he said. “It came from a customer who said, ‘Have you ever taken a cold beer out of the refrigerator and saw the blue mountains? Then when it warms up, the mountains turn white. Is there any way that you can do that for your heating pads?’”

Osborne Industries has been manufacturing heating pads since 1973 with a very low failure rate.

“The customer insisted that people wanted to know if the product is working,” said Eakin. “With a heat lamp, you can see the light but with a heating pad, you can't see anything.”

Osborne went to work and developed a color-changing element that allows the heating pad to give a visual signal of color change when it is heated.

“If you look at the product, when the product is cold, it shows up black, but when the heating pad warms up, it turns to green,” he explained. “So there’s a visual signal that the product is working. “

“We're excited to show these products to our customers and help make improvements,” said Eakin. “The key to our new product designs and features are they are all responses to what our producers have requested.”

Innovative solutions work in new or existing facilities

“Our goal with this new crate was to make it so it's retrofittable into the existing 5 ft. wide by 7.6 ft crate area or we can expand it to 6 ft. by 8 ft. which is what some people are wanting to do,” said Eakin. “Primarily, it's more about being able to adjust for existing facilities. There are no requirements from Proposition 12 in regard to farrowing space at this point,” he said. “This new crate is ahead of the curve.”

For more information visit osbornelivestockequipment.com.

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