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Purdue invention to improve health and welfare of farrowing sows is licensed to Canadian company

A patented Purdue University invention designed to cool sows and lower their respiration rate while farrowing has been licensed to Innovative Heating Technologies for further beta testing and commercialization.

Company President Chris Grant said Innovative Heating Technologies has more than 25 years of experience producing energy-efficient equipment for the agricultural industry. He said licensing the sow cooling pads is a perfect fit and the next logical step for the company.

Robert Stwalley shows a cooling pad designed to keep sows more comfortable during farrowing Robert Stwalley shows a cooling pad designed to keep sows more comfortable during farrowing

"Our primary focus is working with pork producers in a very narrow application: We manufacture the most energy-efficient heat mat for farrowing and nursery applications," Grant said. "Introducing a cooling product specifically designed to reduce stress and improve animal welfare is a direct complement to our existing business."

The cooling pads, developed by Allan Schinckel, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, and Robert Stwalley, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, are 2-foot-by-4-foot aluminum tread plates on top of copper pipes that circulate water. Since there is only room for the sow on the pad, piglets that need to stay warm are off the edge while they feed. Sensors in the pad can determine if the sow is getting too hot and circulate new water, cooling the pad again.

Schinckel, Stwalley and their students have published several peer-reviewed papers on sow lactation heat production, feed intake and the technology in journals including Applied Engineering in Agriculture, Journal of Animal Science, The Professional Animal Scientist and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

"These published papers show the sound science around our design for efficient, effective heat removal," Schinckel said. "We have recently published data that demonstrate how the cooling pads increase the piglet weaning weights during times of higher temperatures."

A selection of papers can be found at these links:

Grant said Innovative Heating Technologies will beta test the pads through partnered research trials at Purdue and select producers' test facilities.

"Conversations on heat stress and sow cooling have been prioritized by producers and veterinarians. They are eager to implement new technology related to animal welfare," Grant said. "We're looking forward to participating in continued research with Purdue and have set a goal to introduce a commercial-ready cooling pad into hog facilities as soon as possible."

Grant said the hog market is changing. Producers are driven to adopt and integrate new technologies related to improving sustainably and animal welfare.

"When the sow cooling pads are tested, our main goal will be to verify the efficiency and performance of the pads and the impact they have on the sows' welfare and performance over time," Grant said. "This is the data our customers will want to see."

Schinckel and Stwalley's research received funding from a Purdue AgSEED grant, Trask Innovation Fund grant, National Pork Board Student Research or Extension Experience grant and the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in the Discovery Park District at Purdue, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies sighed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact for more information.

About Innovating Heating Technologies

Innovative Heating Technologies is committed to providing energy-efficient heating and lighting solutions for a wide range of agricultural and commercial applications. We care about animal health, welfare and offering reliable equipment manufactured to save our customers time on maintenance and money on their electric bills. With over 25 years of experience in manufacturing equipment for the agricultural industry, IHT is committed to researching new innovative technologies and providing reliable customer support.

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