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Pig chute improves vaccination accuracy

Device lessens stress on pigs as well as producers.

Kevin Schulz

March 9, 2023

3 Min Read
Man next to pig chute device
HANDLE WITH EASE: Brad Hennen created the Hennen Pig Chute to remove stress for pigs and producers during the vaccination process.Kevin Schulz

Born out of a National Pork Board task force searching for ways to eliminate broken needles in pork, Brad Hennen thinks a device he has designed answers that, as well as improves vaccination accuracy.

“A typical vaccine that a farmer is giving to a young pig costs roughly $1, and I want to make sure that they get a full return on that investment of $1,” he says, “and that return is much more likely to be high if they get that vaccine right where it’s supposed to be — that’s behind the ear in the muscle.”

The Hennen Pig Chute can be set up in a pen or in an alleyway, wherever a producer is already moving pigs, entering or exiting a building or room within a barn. “That’s the easiest way to achieve throughput because you’re not doing an extra handling of the pigs,” Hennen says. “You’re just doing it as your normal handling process.”

Pigs from 10 to 40 pounds are channeled to the aluminum chute via attached poly panels, and a pair of parallel conveyor belts comfortably moves the pigs through the chute.

“I’m trying to help facilitate that restraint of the pig for those vaccination purposes,” Hennen says, while displaying the chute at the recent Minnesota Pork Congress. He adds that the pigs are restrained only while the pig is being vaccinated, “rather than a whole group being crowded into a corner, so it’s less stressful on the pig. It’s less stressful on the producer.”

Hennen, from Ghent, Minn., is past president of the Minnesota Pork Board, and his day job is as an account manager for Fast Genetics.

Adjusts to operator comfort

The chute is at slat level, allowing the one administering the vaccinations to sit down while the pigs are channeled along in front of them. The conveyors are controlled by a foot pedal, allowing the producer to easily start and stop the belts, which also have speed adjustments.

“You can accommodate the learning curve of the operator, to train them to achieve accuracy, first of all, since that is the first priority,” he says. “Then, as they become more comfortable with it, you can up the speed.” At top speed, if pigs are coming through the chute nose to tail, producers can process as many as 3,000 pigs per hour, Hennen adds.

Depending on the vaccination system currently implemented by a producer, Hennen says this device may save time and labor needed for the vaccination process.

“There are some operations that are doing all vaccination with one person now, and they may or may not be adequately addressing the aspect of accuracy,” he says. “So, chances are in that situation what I’m going to save them mostly — or help them with — is efficacy of the vaccine.”

Visit to watch a video of the Hennen Pig Chute in action, or see it below:

In a testimony on Hennen’s website, a Colorado producer says he paid for the device in 45 days strictly due to labor savings, “so it depends on what process they are using as far as the benefits you’ll see,” Hennen says.

The Hennen Pig Chute also gained attention as it was one of the top 10 finalists in the Farmer Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, earning Hennen $10,000 in startup funds.

A Hutterite colony west of Watertown, S.D., manufactures the Hennen Pig Chute, which costs $7,000 including delivery, setup and training of the receiving crew. More information can be found at or by contacting Hennen at 507-828-0276 or [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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