Pig farmer's invention wins national innovation award

Harry Wiseman, from Beeston, won the Innovation of the Year trophy at the National Pig Awards

Harry Wiseman, from Beeston, with his mobile vaccination machine which won the Innovation of the Year trophy at the National Pig Awards - Credit: Lucy Wiseman

A Norfolk pig farmer's invention to make vaccinating animals easier has been celebrated with a national industry innovation prize.

Harry Wiseman, of Dykewood Farm in Beeston, near Dereham, won the Innovation of the Year trophy at the National Pig Awards.

He said the need to take the heavy lifting out of vaccinating five-week-old piglets became clear when when his only member of staff was eight months pregnant.

So Mr Wiseman, who also works part-time as a self-employed farm machine designer, started drawing up computer-aided designs to automate the process - and the prototype machine was built about six weeks later.

Pigs are loaded onto a conveyor which lifts them off the ground to be injected by a single operator, while the exit gates allow the male and female animals to be separated.

"It is a mobile machine that the pigs walk onto, with two angled conveyors in a V formation, and the floor falls away so their feet are lifted off the ground," said Mr Wiseman, 42.

"Jobs like vaccinating are not the most enjoyable, so it is nice to find a way which is less stressful for the animals and easier for the people doing it.

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"I have been designing farm-related machinery for about 15 years or so, but I am doing it part-time now that I have started working back on the family farm. 

"This initial design probably took about one month to draw up and a couple of weeks to build - but it is still ongoing, and now it is a case of testing and modifying it.

"We have got two batches of 2,000 pigs going through it each year, so we can only really test once every six months.

"It is much faster, and we don't have to lift up the pigs - when you are lifting 2,000 times six or seven kilos, it soon adds up to a lot of manual labour."

Mr Wiseman said while he is "not sure about going down the patent route" he has spoken to several other people who are potentially interested in the machine.

Other Norfolk winners at the National Pig Awards included outdoor producers LSB Pigs, based at East Rudham near Fakenham, which won three awards including the overall Producer of the Year title, while two trophies went to the Mellor family at Grange Farm in King's Lynn.