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Title:
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR RELEASING THE SKIN FROM AN ANIMAL BODY OF A FURRED ANIMAL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/011084
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to an apparatus (1) for releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body (2). The apparatus comprises a control arrangement (10) for controlling the apparatus (1), a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70) for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus, a releasing device (5), and drive means (6) configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10). The drive means (6) are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement (M1) between the animal body and the releasing device (5) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body to move the releasing device (5) from a first position (POS1) outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end (2b) of the animal body to a second position (POS2) so as to release the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body. The apparatus (1) moreover comprises or or more releasing units (8a, 8b) to be displaced in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2). At least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b) may be configured to be operated to a releasing position (RP) so that it at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2), and drive means (6) are operated to provide a second releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing units (8a, 8b). The invention moreover relates to a method of releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2).

Inventors:
PEDERSEN, Kurt (Bøgevej 3, 7830 Vinderup, 7830, DK)
Application Number:
EP2017/067117
Publication Date:
January 18, 2018
Filing Date:
July 07, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EIKON TECHNOLOGIES HOLDING S.À.R.L. (6 rue Bech, 1222 Luxembourg, 1222 Luxembourg, 1222, LU)
International Classes:
A22B5/16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZACCO DENMARK A/S (Arne Jacobsens Allé 15, 2300 København S, 2300, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. An apparatus (1) for releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body (2), wherein said apparatus comprises:

a control arrangement (10) for controlling the apparatus (1),

a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70) for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus,

a releasing device (5), and

drive means (6) configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10), wherein said drive means (6) are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement (Ml) between the animal body and the releasing device (5) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body to move the releasing device (5) from a first position (POS1) outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end (2b) of the animal body to a second position (POS2) so as to release the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises releasing units (8a, 8b) configured to be displaced by moving means (17) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2) by a relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said releasing units (8a, 8b), wherein the moving means (17) are controllable by the control arrangement (10), wherein at least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b) is configured to be operated to a releasing position (RP) by means of said control arrangement (10) so that it at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2), and wherein the control arrangement (10) is configured to operate drive means (6) to provide a second releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing units (8a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP).

2. An apparatus (1) according to claim 1, wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP) by means of said operation of the at least one releasing unit(s) (8a, 9b), preferably by means of a rotational movement (RM).

3. An apparatus (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the releasing device (5) is separate to the releasing units (8a, 8b), and wherein the relative movement (M2) between the releasing units (8a, 8b) and the animal body (2) by the moving means (17) is configured to be provided while the releasing device (5) is in the second position (POS2). 4. An apparatus (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) comprises guided parts (12a, 12b), wherein the guided parts (12a, 12b) are longitudinal members such as rods, and wherein the longitudinal members are configured to be displaced by the moving means (17) in their longitudinal direction (LD1) to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs.

5. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) are configured to be moved in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body (2) towards the head end (2a) of said animal body to an operation position (OP) by a first relative movement (Ml) by the drive means (6), prior to and/or during said relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said releasing units (8a, 8b) from the belly of the animal body (2) by the moving means (17).

6. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises pulling means (11a, 1 lb, 23) configured for catching the rear end of the skin at the belly side during the first releasing operation and dragging the skin in a direction towards the head end of the animal body.

7. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the releasing units (8a, 8b) and the releasing device (5) are separate and are connected to the same guided element (16), and wherein said guided element (16) is arranged to be guided by a guiding element (15), preferably by a substantially linear movement (Ml), in order to provide the first releasing operation (Ml) and the second releasing operation (M3).

8. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b) comprises a hook part (11a, 1 lb), and wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to be operated so that the hook part (11a, 1 lb) is arranged to extend at the back side (22) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP), preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of the releasing unit (8a, 8b).

9. An apparats according to claim 8, wherein the tip end (19) of said hook part (11a, 1 lb) is configured to extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body (2) during the first releasing operation (Ml).

10. An apparats according to claim 8 or 9, wherein said hook part (11a, 1 lb) is configured to be arranged between the skin and the carcass during the first releasing operation, and thereby catch and pull a part of the skin (3) at the belly side of the animal body (2) from the rear end and towards the head end of the animal body (2), preferably by arranging the hook part (10a, 10b) at side edges (5a, 5b) of the releasing device (5) during the first releasing operation.

11. An apparatus according to any of claims 8-10, wherein the apparatus (1) comprises two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a hook part (11a, 1 lb), and wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) are configured to be operated so that the hook parts (11a, 1 lb) are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body from opposite sides in the releasing position (RP), preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of said releasing units (8a, 8b) by rotation means (30).

12. An apparatus according to claim 1 1, wherein the hook parts (11a, 1 lb) are configured to overlap when arranged in the releasing position (RP).

13. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprises a guided longitudinal part (12a, 12b) such as a rod, wherein said guided parts (12a, 12b) are displaceable arranged to be guided by guiding means (13a, 13b) arranged to guide the releasing units (8a, 8b) during the movement (M2) to arrange the said releasing units (8a, 8b) between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body. 14. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the movement direction (M2), when moving a part (11a, 1 lb) of the releasing units (8a, 8b) in ahead of the hind legs, is arranged to incline with an angle (al) towards the head end of the animal body. 15. An apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said releasing device (5) is separate to the releasing units, and wherein said angle (al) is provided between a movement plane (PL1) of the releasing device (5a) and the releasing unit (8a, 8b), and is preferably an acute angle (al), preferably between 50° and 88° such as between 60° and 85°.

16. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the movement directions (M2) of the respective releasing units (8a, 8b) when the releasing units (8a, 8b) are arranged to be moved in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side are arranged to be inclining (a3) towards each other.

17. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the releasing units (8a, 8b) are arranged with an mutual angle (a3) so that the parts (11a, 1 lb) to be moved in ahead of the hind legs inclines towards a vertical centre plane (PL2), wherein said angle (a3) is preferably between 3° and 110°, preferably between 5° and 90°, such as between 10° and 45°.

18. An apparatus according to claim 16 or 17, wherein the mutual angle (a3) is configured to be adjustable by angle adjusters 90a, 90b. 19. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first releasing operation is configured to be provided by moving the releasing device (5) relative to the animal body (2) and a frame (14) of the apparatus (1), and/or wherein the second releasing operation is configured to be provided by moving (M3) the releasing units (8a, 8b) by drive means (6) relative to the animal body and a frame part (14) of the apparatus (1).

20. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said holding arrangement (7a, 7b) is configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10) to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs (7a, 7b) of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set (7a) and a second jaw set (7b), and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement.

21. An apparatus according to claim 20, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises a paw cutting arrangement (50a, 50b) which is controllable by the control arrangement (10), and wherein the paw cutting arrangement (50a, 50b) is configured for cutting off the paws of the hind legs (9a, 9b), thereby releasing said animal body from said holding arrangement (7a, 7b) before, during or after the releasing units (8a, 8b) have been arranged in the releasing position (RP).

22. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said apparatus comprises body holding means (70), which body holding means (70) are configured to be operated by said control arrangement (10) to hold the animal body (2) at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs (9a, 9b) of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation (M3).

23. An apparatus according to claim 22, wherein said body holding means (70) comprises one or more jaws/clamps (71a, 71b) and an operating unit (72), and wherein said control arrangement (10) is configured to operate the operating unit in order to arrange the one or more jaws/clamps (71a, 71b) in a body holding position or an open position respectively.

24. An apparatus (1) according to claim 22 or 23, wherein said body holding means (70) comprises a first body holding arrangement (70a) and a second body holding arrangement (70b), wherein the first holding arrangement 70a is configured to be activated before said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) has been operated to the releasing position (RP), and wherein said second holding arrangement 70b is configured to be activated after said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) have been operated to the releasing position (RP) and preferably before the second releasing operation (M3) is initiated. 25. An apparatus (1) according to claim 24, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is positioned to be arranged closer to the rear end of the animal body than the first body holding arrangement (70b).

26. An apparatus (1) according to claim 24 or 25, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is configured to be arranged so that a part of the releasing unit

(8a, 8b) to be operated to the releasing position (RP) extends in between jaws/clamps (71a, 71b) of the second body holding arrangement (70b) after the first releasing operation and before the at least one releasing unit is operated to the releasing position (RP). 27. An apparatus (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said relative movement between the animal body (2) and the releasing units (8a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP) is arranged to be provided so that the releasing units (8a, 8b) are moved (M3) from a position in between the skin (3) and the carcass (4), away from the head end (2a) and towards the rear end (2b) of the animal body.

28. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said releasing units (8a, 8b) by the moving means (17) is configured to be provided by displacing the releasing units (8a, 8b) relative to a counter-hold part (5, 80) in their longitudinal directions (LD1), preferably by a linear movement, and wherein said counter-hold part (5, 80) is configured to be arranged between the skin and the carcass at the belly side.

29. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing device (5) is separate to said releasing units (8a, 8b), wherein the releasing device (5) is configured to provide a releasing of the skin at the belly side (21) of the animal body during the first releasing operation , and wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to provide a releasing of the skin from the carcass (4) at the back side (22) of the animal body when the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP).

30. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 1-28, wherein at least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b) are configured to provide the releasing device (5) in order to provide the first releasing operation. 31. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing device (5) is configured to be moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body (2) before said second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

32. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said releasing device (5) is configured to be moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body (2) after said releasing units (8a, 8b) have been displaced by moving means (17) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2). 33. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) are configured to be displaced by moving means (17) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2) with different, predefined displacement lengths (D2). 34. An apparatus according to claim 33, wherein said different, predefined displacement lengths (D2) are configured to be controlled by one or more controllable, mechanical blocking elements (501, 502), wherein at least one of said one or more mechanical blocking elements (501, 502) preferably is/are configured to be displaced between a blocking position (BPS) where said one or more blocking elements (501, 502) is arranged to mechanically prevent further movement (M2) of said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), and a second non-blocking position where the blocking element (501, 502) allows further movement of the releasing unit (8a).

35. A method of releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body, wherein the method comprises the steps of: arranging the animal body (2) in a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70), providing a first releasing operation where a releasing device (5) is moved (Ml) from a first position (POS1) outside the animal body and into an opening (18 ) at the rear end (2b) to a second position (POS2), thereby releasing the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body at the rear end (2b), providing a relative movement (M2) between the animal body (2) and releasing units (8a, 8b), so the releasing units (8a, 8b) are moved from the belly side and in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) of the animal body (2), operating at least one of the releasing units (8a, 8b) to a releasing position (RP) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2) between the skin (3) and the carcass (4) of the animal body (2), and providing a second releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing units (8a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP), thereby releasing the skin from the carcass (4) at the back side of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body.

36. A method according to 35, wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) extend transverse to the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP). 37. A method according to claim 35 or 36, wherein the relative movement (M2) between the releasing units (8a, 8b) and the animal body (2) is provided by moving means (17) while the releasing device (5) is in the second position (POS2), wherein the releasing device preferably is separate to the releasing units (8a, 8b).

38. A method according to any of claims 35-37, wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) comprises guided parts (12a, 12b) , wherein the guided parts (12a, 12b) are longitudinal members such as rods, and wherein the longitudinal members are displaced by moving means (17) in their longitudinal direction (LD1) to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs. 39. A method according to any of claims 35-38, wherein pulling means (11a, 1 lb, 23) catches the rear end of the skin at the belly side during the first releasing operation and drags the skin in a direction towards the head end (2a) of the animal body. 40. A method according to any of claims 35-39, wherein at least one of the releasing units (8a, 8b) comprises a hook part (11a, 1 lb), and wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is operated so that the hook part (11a, 1 lb) is arranged to extend at the back side (22) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP), preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of the releasing unit (8a, 8b).

41. A method according to claim 40, wherein the tip end (19) of the hook part (11a, 11) extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body (2) during the first releasing operation (Ml). 42. A method according to claim 40 or 41, wherein the hook part (11a, 1 lb) is arranged between the skin and the carcass during the first releasing operation, and thereby grabs and pulls a part of the skin (3) at the belly side of the animal body (2) from the rear end and towards the head end of the animal body (2), preferably by arranging the hook part (10a, 10b) at side edges (5a, 5b) of the releasing device (5) during the first releasing operation.

43. A method according to any of claims 35-42, wherein two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a hook part (11a, 1 lb) are utilized, and wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) are operated so that the hook parts (11a, 1 lb) are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body in the releasing position (RP) from opposite sides of the animal body, preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of said releasing units (8a, 8b) by rotation means (30).

44. A method according to any of claims 35-43, wherein the movement direction (M2) when moving a part (11a, 1 lb) of the releasing units (8a, 8b) in ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) incline with an angle (al) towards the head end (2a) of the animal body.

45. A method according to any of claims 35-44, wherein the movement directions (M2) of the respective releasing units (8a, 8b) when moving the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side incline (a3) towards each other.

46. A method according to claim 45, wherein the releasing units (8a, 8b) are arranged with an mutual angle (a3) so that the parts (11a, 1 lb) inclines towards a centre plane (PL2) when moved in ahead of the hind legs, wherein said angle (a3) is preferably between 3° and 110°, preferably between 5° and 90°, such as between 10° and 30°.

47. A method according to any of claims 35-46, wherein the releasing device is separate to the releasing units, and wherein the relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said releasing units (8a, 8b) by the moving means (17) is provided by displacing the releasing units (8a, 8b) relative to the releasing device (5).

48. A method according to any of claims 35-47, wherein the first and second releasing operations are provided by moving (Ml, M3) the releasing units (8a, 8b) and/or the releasing device (5) by drive means (6) relative to the animal body and a frame part (14) of the apparatus (1).

49. A method according to any of claims 35-48, wherein the holding arrangement (7a, 7b) is controlled by the control arrangement (10) to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs (7a, 7b) of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement.

50. A method according to claim 49, wherein a paw cutting arrangement (50a, 50b) cuts off the paws of the hind legs (9a, 9b), thereby releasing the hind legs of the animal body from the holding arrangement (7a, 7b) before, during or after the releasing units (8a, 8b) have been arranged in the releasing position (RP).

51. A method according to any of claims 35-50, wherein body holding means (70), are operated to hold the animal body (2) at a location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs (9a, 9b) of said animal body, at least during said second releasing operation (M3).

52. A method according to claim 51, wherein said body holding means (70) comprises a first body holding arrangement (70a) and a second body holding arrangement (70b), wherein the first holding arrangement 70a is activated before said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) has been operated to the releasing position (RP), and preferably also before said first relative movement (Ml) is initiated, and wherein said second holding arrangement (70b) is configured to be activated after said at least one releasing unit (8 a, 8b) have been operated to the releasing position (RP) and preferably before the second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

53. A method according to claim 52, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is arranged closer to the rear end of the animal body than the first body holding arrangement (70b). 54. A method according to claim 52 or 53, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is positioned so that a part (11a, 1 lb, 19) of the releasing unit (8a, 8b) to be operated to the releasing position (RP) extends in between jaws/clamps (71a, 71b) of the second body holding arrangement (70b) after the first releasing operation and before the at least one releasing unit is operated to the releasing position (RP).

55. A method according to any of claims 35-54, wherein the relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said releasing units (8a, 8b) by the moving means (17) is provided by displacing the releasing units (8a, 8b) relative to a counter-hold part (5, 80) in their longitudinal directions (LD1), preferably by a linear movement, and wherein the counter-hold part (5, 80) is arranged between the skin and the carcass at the belly side during this movement (M2).

56. A method according to any of claims 35-55, wherein said releasing device (5) is separate to said releasing units (8a, 8b), wherein the releasing device (5) provide a releasing of the skin at the belly side (21) of the animal body during the first releasing operation , and wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) provides a releasing of the skin from the carcass (4) at the back side (22) of the animal body when the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP). 57. A method according to any of claims 35-56, wherein at least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b) provides the releasing device (5) in order to provide the first releasing operation, preferably by means of a hook part (11a, 1 lb).

58. A method according to any of claims 35-57, wherein the method is provided by means of an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34.

59. A computer program product which, when installed in a data storage of a control arrangement (10) of an apparatus (1) according to any of claims 1-34, is configured to provide the method of any of claims 35-58.

60. Use of an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34 and/or a method according to any of claims 35-58 for releasing the skin at the rear end part of a dead furred animal body (2) such as a mink body. 61. An apparatus (1) for releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body (2), wherein said apparatus comprises:

a control arrangement (10) for controlling the apparatus (1),

a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70) for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus,

a releasing device (5), and

drive means (6) configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10), wherein said drive means (6) are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement (Ml) between the animal body and the releasing device (5) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body to move the releasing device (5) from a first position (POS1) outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end (2b) of the animal body to a second position (POS2) so as to release the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) configured to be operated to a releasing position (RP) by means of said control arrangement (10) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2), and wherein the control arrangement (10) is configured to operate drive means (6) to provide a second releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing unit (8a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (RP) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is moved (M3) from a position in between the skin (3) and the carcass (4), in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body, wherein said releasing device (5) is configured to be moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body (2) before said second releasing operation is initiated.

62. An apparatus (1) according to claim 61, wherein said releasing device (5) is configured to be moved (M4) towards the rear end of the animal body so that it will be substantially free from the animal body, before said second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

63. An apparatus (1) according to claim 61 or 62, wherein said movement (M4) of the releasing device (5) away from the head end of the animal body is configured to have a length (LTl) between 100 mm and 500 mm, preferably between 150 mm and 350 mm, such as between mm and 300 mm, e.g. between 230 and 280 mm.

64. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 63, wherein said releasing device (5) and said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to be moved towards the head end (2a) of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement (5) during said first releasing operation (Ml).

65. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 64, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), is configured to be displaced by moving means (17) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2) by a relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), wherein the moving means (17) are controllable by the control arrangement (10).

66. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 65, wherein said releasing device (5) is configured to be moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end

(2a) of the animal body (2) after said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), has been displaced by moving means (17) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2) by a relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), and before said second releasing operation is initiated.

67. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 66, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP), preferably by means of a rotational movement (RM).

68. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 67., wherein said apparatus comprises two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a guided part (12a, 12b), wherein the guided part (12a, 12b) is a longitudinal member such as a rod, and wherein the longitudinal member is configured to be displaced by moving means (17) in its longitudinal direction (LD1) to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs.

69. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 68, wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) and the releasing device (5) are connected to the same guided element (16, 301), and wherein said guided element (16, 301) is arranged to be guided by a guiding element (15, 300), preferably to provide at least said first releasing operation (Ml) and/or said second releasing operation (M3).

70. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 69, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) comprises a hook part (11a, 1 lb), and wherein the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to be operated so that the hook part (11a, 1 lb) is arranged to extend at the back side (22) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP), preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of the releasing unit (8a, 8b). 71, An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 70, wherein the apparatus (1) comprises two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a hook part (11a, l ib), and wherein said releasing units (8a, 8b) are configured to be operated so that the hook parts (11a, 1 lb) are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body from opposite sides in the releasing position (RP), preferably by a rotational movement (RM) of said releasing units (8a, 8b) by rotation means (30).

72. An apparatus according to claim 70 or 71, wherein the tip end (19) of said hook part (11a, 1 lb) is configured to extend in a direction towards the head end (2a) of the animal body (2) during the first releasing operation (Ml). 73. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 65 to 72, wherein said apparatus comprises two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a guided longitudinal part (12a, 12b) such as a rod, wherein said guided parts (12a, 12b) are displaceable arranged to be guided by guiding means (13a, 13b) arranged to guide the releasing units (8a, 8b) during the movement (M2) to arrange the said releasing units (8a, 8b) between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body.

74. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 61 to 73, wherein said holding arrangement (7a, 7b) is configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10) to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs (7a, 7b) of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set (7a) and a second jaw set (7b), and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement. 75. An apparatus according to any of claims 61 to 74, wherein said apparatus comprises body holding means (70), which body holding means (70) are configured to be operated by said control arrangement (10) to hold the animal body (2) at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs (9a, 9b) of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation (M3).

76. An apparatus according to claim 75, wherein said body holding means (70) comprises a first body holding arrangement (70a) and a second body holding arrangement (70b), wherein the first holding arrangement 70a is configured to be activated before said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) has been operated to the releasing position (RP), and wherein said second holding arrangement (70b) is configured to be activated after said at least one releasing unit (8 a, 8b) has been operated to the releasing position (RP) and preferably before the second releasing operation (M3) is initiated. 77. An apparatus (1) according to claim 76, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is arranged to be closer to the rear end of the animal body than the first body holding arrangement (70b), and wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is adapted to be activated after the releasing device (5) has been moved (M4) in the direction away from the head end and before the second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

78. An apparatus (1) according to claim 77, wherein said second body holding arrangement (70b) is positioned so that a part of the releasing unit (8a, 8b) to be operated to the releasing position (RP) extends in between jaws/clamps (71a, 71b) of the second body holding arrangement (70b) after the first releasing operation and before the at least one releasing unit is operated to the releasing position (RP).

79. A method of releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body (2), wherein said method comprises the steps of:

arranging said animal body in a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70), moving a releasing device (5) by drive means (6) to provide a first releasing operation (Ml) where a relative movement (Ml) between the animal body and the releasing device (5) is provided in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body so that the releasing device (5) is moved from a first position (POS1) outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end (2b) of the animal body to a second position (POS2) to release the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body, moving (M2, RM) at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) to a releasing position

(PvP) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2), and providing a second releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing unit (8 a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction

(LD) of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is in the releasing position (PvP) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is moved (M3) from a position in between the skin (3) and the carcass (4), away from the head end (2a) of the animal body thereby releasing the skin from the back side of the animal body and preferably also from the hind legs and/or tail of the animal body, wherein said releasing device (5) is moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end (2a) of the animal body (2) before said second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

80. A method according to claim 79, wherein said releasing device is moved (M4) away from the head end (2a) of the animal body so that is substantially free from the animal body, before the second releasing operation (M3) is initiated.

81. A method according to claim 79 or 80, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is moved towards the head end (2a) of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement (5) during said first releasing operation (Ml). 82. A method according to any of claims 79 to 81, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), is displaced in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b) from the belly side of the animal body (2) by a relative movement (M2) between said animal body (2) and said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b). 83. A method according to any of claims 79-82, wherein said releasing device (5) provides a counter hold at the belly side of the animal body (2) when displacing (M2) the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of the hind legs (9a, 9b). 84. A method according to any of claims 79-83, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) extends transverse to the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP).

85. An apparatus according to any of claims 61-78, wherein said apparatus is an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34, and/or wherein said apparatus is configured to operate according to the method of any of claims 35-58 and/or any of claims 79-84.

86. Use of an apparatus according to any of claims 61-78 and/or a method according to any of claims 79-84 for releasing the skin at the rear end part of a dead furred animal body (2) such as a mink body.

87. An apparatus (1) for releasing the skin (3) of a body (2) of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass (4) of the animal body (2) at the rear end of the animal body (2), wherein said apparatus comprises:

a control arrangement (10) for controlling the apparatus (1), and

a holding arrangement (7a, 7b, 70) for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus,

wherein said apparatus (1) comprises at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) adapted to be displaced by a moving arrangement (17) in a releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2) so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is displaced (M2) in between the animal skin (3) and the carcass (4) ahead of hind legs (9a, 9b) of the animal body (2) from the belly side of the animal body (2), wherein the control arrangement (10) is configured to control said releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2), wherein the control arrangement (10) is configured to operate drive means (6) to provide a releasing operation by a relative movement (M3) between the animal body (2) and the releasing unit (8a, 8b) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body so that the at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is moved (M3) from a position in between the skin (3) and the carcass (4), away from the head end (2a) of the animal body to release skin at from the carcass (4) at the rear end of the animal body (2) by means of said at least one releasing unit (8 a, 8b), and wherein said releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO) is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths (D2).

88. An apparatus (1) according to claim 87, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to be operated to a releasing positon (RP) where it at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body (2).

89. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 or 88, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises at least two releasing units (8a, 8b), and wherein at least one of said releasing units (8a, 8b), preferably both releasing units, comprises a hook part (11a, l ib) configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body in the releasing position (RP), preferably by means of a rotational movement (RM).

90. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 89, wherein said apparatus is configured so that a human operator can provide a selection between said different, predefined displacement lengths and/or wherein a selection between said different, said different, predefined displacement lengths (D2) is configured to be controlled by one or more controllable, mechanical blocking elements (501, 502).

91. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 90, wherein said one or more mechanical blocking elements (501, 502) is/are configured to be displaced between a blocking position (BPS) where said one or more blocking elements (501, 502) is arranged to mechanically prevent further movement (M2) of said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b), and a second non-blocking position where the blocking element (501, 502) allows further movement of the releasing unit (8a).

92. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87-91, wherein said or more mechanical blocking elements (501, 502) is/are adapted to be adjusted in a direction (AD) substantially parallel to the movement direction (M2) of said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) during the releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2).

93. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 92, wherein said releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2) is adapted to be provided by means of a linear actuator (17) such as a pneumatically controlled cylinder. 94. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 93, wherein said releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2) is configured to provide a displacement (M2) of said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) which is between 30 mm and 250 mm, preferably between 35 mm and 170 mm, such as between 40 mm and 150 mm. 95. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 94, wherein said apparatus comprises a releasing device (5) and drive means, wherein said drive means (6) are configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10), and wherein said drive means (6) are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement (Ml) between the animal body and the releasing device (5) in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body to move the releasing device (5) from a first position (POS1) outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end (2b) of the animal body to a second position (POS2) so as to release the skin (3) from the carcass (4) at the belly side of the animal body.

96. An apparatus according to any of claims 87 to 95, wherein said at least one releasing unit (8a, 8b) is configured to be moved towards the head end (2a) of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction (LD) of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement (5) during said first releasing operation (Ml) and/or wherein said at least one releasing unit comprises a hook part (11a, 1 lb) having a tip end (19), wherein said tip end of the hook part (11a, 1 lb) is configured to extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body (2) during said first releasing operation (Ml).

97. An apparatus (1) according to any of claims 87 to 96, wherein said apparatus comprises two releasing units (8a, 8b) each comprising a guided part (12a, 12b), wherein the guided part (12a, 12b) is a longitudinal member such as a rod, and wherein the longitudinal member (12a, 12b) is configured to be displaced by moving means (17) in its longitudinal direction (LD1) so as to provide said releasing unit displacement operation (RUDO, M2). 98. An apparatus according to any of claims 87-97, wherein said holding arrangement (7a, 7b) is configured to be controlled by the control arrangement (10) to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs (7a, 7b) of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set (7a) and a second jaw set (7b), and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement, and/or wherein said apparatus comprises body holding means (70), which body holding means (70) are configured to be operated by said control arrangement (10) to hold the animal body (2) at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs (9a, 9b) of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation (M3).

99. An apparatus according to any of claims 87-98, wherein said apparatus (1) is an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34 and/or wherein said apparatus is an apparatus according to any of claims 61-78.

Description:
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR RELEASING THE SKIN FROM AN ANIMAL BODY OF A FURRED ANIMAL

The invention relates to apparatus for and a method of releasing parts of the animal skin from the body of a furred animal such as a mink. The invention moreover relates to a computer program product, and use of an apparatus for releasing the skin at the rear end part of a dead furred animal body, such as a mink body.

Background

Handling the body of a dead furred animal such as a mink in order to obtain a tubular pelt from the animal body is known to be a complicated process as it requires several individual processing steps before the skin side of the fur is released from the carcass/body part of the dead animal body. Different solutions for providing an optimization of the process of freeing the pelt from the body have thus been provided.

Among such solutions is e.g. the pelting machine disclosed in EP 2 245 940 Bl which should be able to perform the whole pelting process as a continuous work process. This solution comprises among others knife units for making cutting operations between feet of the hind legs around the anus part of the animal body respectively, and a shovel shaped member to be guided into the abdomen through the opening provided by the cutting operations. A clamp tool and a gripping member pull the entire pelt of the animal body. The machine additionally provides several further processing steps including that a measuring tool determines the position of ears, eyebrows and nose of the body, and that incision tools cuts in the border area of the eyebrows and nose of the body based on commands from the measurement tool.

The above solution provides several drawbacks including being a rather complex and expensive solution which may also not be sufficiently reliable. Other solutions are likewise known, where e.g. a first operation by a first apparatus includes that a cutting operation between feet of the hind legs is provided, and that a shovel shaped member is subsequently guided into the abdomen part through the opening provided by the cutting operation to release the skin from the belly side of the animal body. This movement may also provide that a knife unit provide a cutting operation around the anus part of the animal body. When pulling out the shovel shaped member, a tail cutting arrangement cuts the tail open. Afterwards, the animal body is moved to another work station where a hook member manually is provided into the opening provided by the shovel in order to subsequently release the pelt from the back side of the body.

The above solution has shown to be time consuming and expensive as it requires manual work and may moreover require rather skilled personnel. Moreover, it may provide significant drawbacks from a working environmental point of view.

A still further solution is known where a shovel shaped member is guided into the abdomen part through an opening provided by a previously provided cutting operation to release the skin from the belly side of the animal body. The shovel member is then pulled out of the body, and claws then moved from the rear end in between the skin and carcass to grab around the hind legs and tail and are subsequently pulled away from the animal body to release the skin around the hind legs and tail. This solution may however among others provide drawbacks in relation the subsequent skinning operation. It may e.g. be an object of the present invention to provide a solution which overcome or reduces one or more of the above mentioned drawbacks.

The invention

The invention relates to an apparatus for releasing the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body. The apparatus comprises a control arrangement for controlling the apparatus, a holding arrangement for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus, a releasing device, and drive means configured to be controlled by the control arrangement. The drive means are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing device in the longitudinal direction of the animal body to move the releasing device from a first position outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end of the animal body to a second position so as to release the skin from the carcass at the belly side of the animal body. The apparatus comprises releasing units configured to be displaced by moving means in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body by a relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units. The moving means are controllable by the control arrangement. At least one of said releasing units is/are configured to be operated to a releasing position by means of said control arrangement so that it at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body. The control arrangement is configured to operate drive means to provide a second releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing units in the longitudinal direction of the animal body in a direction away from the head end of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position. The present invention as disclosed above provides several advantages. For example, it reduces the requirement of manual work needed to provide a releasing of the skin from the rear end of the animal body at the belly side and the back side. Moreover, it may reduce the need for more skilled personnel. Often, the step of having a device, such as a fixed hook device, arranged at the back side of the animal body in order to enable a releasing of the skin at the back side at the rear end of the animal body requires manual work to draw a hook around the back side of the animal body. This however entails a solution where repeated manual work is applied, which may be very wearing to the operator. The present invention however provides a solution to this issue. Moreover an efficient solution may be provided by the present invention where between 250 and 400, such as between 300-400 furred animal bodies per hour may be processed by the apparatus, and where the skin is released both at the back side and the belly side at the rear end of the animal body.

The present invention provides a solution where the skin is released from the carcass at both the belly side and back side by the same apparatus, and that a relatively large amount of skin is released also at the back side, also in front of or at least from the area where the hind legs are attached to/extends from the body of the animal. This is advantageous as this part of the skin is often used for grabbing later on during the skinning of the animal body, as the skin at the back part of the animal body, such as a mink body, is often stronger than the skin at the belly side of the animal body. By the present invention, the releasing units are arranged ahead of the rear legs and extends to the back side of the animal body in the releasing position. Thus, when providing the further releasing operation, the releasing units will release the skin at the back side during the movement towards the rear end of the animal body, hence leaving an advantageous amount of released skin at the back side at the rear end of the animal body. The displacing of the releasing units in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the rear legs of the animal body by the relative movement between said animal body and the releasing parts is preferably provided in a direction transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body. Preferably, the relative movement between the releasing units and the animal body to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs is configured to be provided during or after the first releasing operation. The releasing units are thus guided from a position at the belly side of the animal body, and in ahead of the respective hind leg, thereby providing that skin at the hind legs will subsequently be released during the second releasing operation as a part of the releasing units is hereby arranged at the right and left sides of the animal body respectively between the belly side and back side.

It is to be understood that by the term "ahead of the hind legs" is understood as the releasing units are arranged between the fore legs and the hind legs. This may e.g. be provided so that the releasing units substantially abuts the carcass part of the hind legs facing the head end, but it may also be provided a distance from the hind legs closer to the fore legs, e.g. in order to release more skin by the second releasing operation.

It is understood that the apparatus preferably comprises two releasing units, i.e. corresponding to the number of hind legs.

The releasing device is preferably arranged so that it, during the first releasing operation to release skin at the belly side of the animal body, releases the skin around the penis area of the animal body is released. This may require that the releasing device is moved at least 5 cm in between the skin and the carcass from the rear end, but the releasing device may also in embodiments of the invention be moved further in between the skin and carcass, such as between 5 cm and 20 cm into the animal body between the skin and the carcass from the opening in the rear end of the animal body. This may be the same for both male and female bodies from dead, furred animals such as mink.

The present invention may moreover provide advantages as the operations to release the skin may mainly be provided from the belly side of the animal, thus leaving space for an operator at the back side to e.g. arrange the animal body in the apparatus, and to e.g. provide other operations of the apparatus. This may also be an advantage from a safety point of view as movable parts are kept away from the operator. It may be understood that the relative movement between the animal body and the releasing units in the longitudinal direction of the animal body in a direction away from the head end of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position is provided so that the releasing units are moved from a position in between the skin and the carcass, away from the head end and towards the rear end of the animal body.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, the at least one releasing unit is configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body in the releasing position by means of said operation of the at least one releasing unit(s), preferably by means of a rotational movement.

This may provide an advantageous solution as the releasing unit(s), e.g. a hook part thereof, is thus arranged ahead of the hind legs and extends at the back side between the skin and the carcass at the rear end part of the body. Thus, the releasing units can free the skin from the animal body during the second releasing operation.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, the releasing device may be separate to the releasing units, and the relative movement between the releasing units and the animal body by the moving means is configured to be provided while the releasing device is in the second position.

This may e.g. provide a simple and reliable operation, and may e.g. also provide a faster operation of the apparatus, e.g. compared to if the releasing units are configured for and controlled to provide the first releasing operation. The releasing device may moreover act as a counter-hold during the movement of the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs and also provide that the releasing units may be ready to be displaced in ahead of the hind legs as they need not first provide the first releasing operation. Experiments have shown that this may be advantageous as it may provide an advantageous stretching of the skin between the releasing device and the releasing units, as the releasing device may help to provide a counter hold and thus a counter force. This may help to provide a reliable operation of the apparatus, as more soft animal bodies, e.g. bodies that are warmed up to the ambient temperature after being cooled or frozen may be more soft. The stretching may help to provide that such warmed up bodies may still be skinned in a reliable way by the apparatus, as it may e.g. provide an improved control of the skin. The releasing device may thus be arranged at the belly side due to the first releasing operation and provide an advantageous counter hold in order to hold the skin at the belly side while the releasing units are moved in ahead the rear legs, and preferably also during the arrangement of the releasing units in the releasing position. Advantageously, in aspects of the invention, the releasing units may comprise guided parts, wherein the guided parts are longitudinal members such as rods, and wherein the longitudinal members are configured to be displaced by the moving means in their longitudinal direction to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs. This may provide an advantageous, robust and yet simple solution where efficient control of the releasing units may be provided. The longitudinal, guided members provides the possibility of moving a part of the releasing unit(s) to be arranged at the back side of the body to be moved from the belly side to the back side and at the same time, the longitudinal members may provide a releasing at the right and left side of the animal body to e.g. release skin around the hind legs during the second releasing operation. The longitudinal members may preferably extend away from the belly side of the animal body, and thus away from the location of the operator who may be located at the back side of the animal body during the operation of the apparatus. The releasing units may in preferred embodiments of the invention be configured to be moved in the longitudinal direction of the animal body towards the head end of the animal body to an operation position by a first relative movement by the drive means, prior to and/or during said relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units from the belly of the animal body.

This may help to arrange the releasing units in the correct operation position.

Moreover, it may in embodiments of the invention help to provide that the releasing units are pulling a part of the skin at the rear end at the belly side towards the head end. This helps to assure that the area of the rear end of the body arranged for receiving the releasing units ahead of the hind legs, is exposed sufficiently so that the releasing units may be moved in between the skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs without risking that a part of the skin is getting in front of the releasing units so that the releasing units damages the skin.

Moreover, it may provide a more simple solution as the same drive means that are used for arranging the releasing device at the belly side may be used for arranging the releasing units in the operation position. This movement to the operation position is preferably provided together with the releasing device by means of the same drive means.

The apparatus may in advantageous embodiments of the invention comprise pulling means configured for catching the rear end of the skin at the belly side during the first releasing operation and dragging the skin in a direction towards the head end of the animal body.

The skin catching means may be provided by hook parts to be arranged at the back side of the body, it may be provided by a hook or the like at the releasing device and or the like. This may help to expose the areas ahead of the hind legs so that the releasing units can be moved in ahead of the hind legs.

The releasing units and the releasing device may in embodiments of the invention be connected to the same guided element, wherein said guided element is arranged to be guided by a guiding element, preferably by a substantially linear movement, in order to provide the first releasing operation and the second releasing operation.

This may provide a simple and efficient solution as it may e.g. reduce the number of needed movable parts and needed operations to release the skin from the rear end of the animal body. The releasing units are thus automatically arranged in an operation position by the first releasing operation, so that the releasing units can be moved in ahead of the hind legs. After one or more of the releasing units is arranged at the back side of the animal body, the second releasing operation is provided and hence, the releasing device is pulled out of the animal body again towards the first position while the releasing units provides a releasing at the rear end of the animal body at the back side and around the tail and the hind legs.

At least one of the releasing units may in preferred embodiments of the invention comprise a hook part and the at least one releasing unit may be configured to be operated so that the hook part is arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of the releasing unit. This may provide a simple and yet efficient and strong releasing unit. The hook part may e.g. be a fixed part at the releasing unit provided by one or more bends or the like at the respective releasing unit.

The tip end of the hook part may thus in embodiments of the invention configured to extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body during the first releasing operation. This may e.g. help to provide a space and simple solution. Moreover the hook part(s) may in embodiments of the invention provide pulling means configured for catching the rear end of the skin at the belly side during the first releasing operation.

When providing a rotational movement after the releasing units have been moved in ahead of the hind legs, the hook part is rotated so that the hook part extends in over the back side between the skin and the carcass at the back side. This rotational movement releases a part of the skin at the back side as the tip end is preferably moved in over the back side, the rotational movement may help to release even further skin at the back side that the skin that is released during the second releasing operation.

The hook part may in advantageous aspects of the invention be configured to be arranged between the skin and the carcass during the first releasing operation, and thereby grab/catch and pull a part of the skin at the belly side of the animal body from the rear end and towards the head end of the animal body, preferably by arranging the hook part at side edges of the releasing device during the first releasing operation.

This may help to assure that the releasing units and the skin at the belly side are in the desired position when moving the releasing units in between the skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs. The hook parts may thus in aspects of the invention be arranged to abut the side edges during the first releasing operation.

The apparatus comprises in preferred embodiments of the invention two releasing units each comprising a hook part, and wherein said releasing units are configured to be operated so that the hook parts are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body from opposite sides of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of said releasing units by rotation means.

This may provide an advantageous solution where the releasing units together provide a releasing at the back side during the second releasing operation. Moreover, it may help to provide a solution where the size/length of the hook part may be reduced, as the two releasing units together covers the back side from opposite sides of the animal body in the releasing position. Generally I is understood that the releasing units may extend in ahead of each their hind leg and thus extend from opposite sides and arranged so that the hook parts extend in over the back side of the animal body between the skin and the carcass.

The hook parts may in aspects of the invention be are configured to overlap when arranged in the releasing position., as this may help to reduce the risk of the skin getting stuck between the releasing units, thereby providing a more reliable apparatus.

The releasing units may in preferred embodiments of the invention each comprise a guided longitudinal part such as a rod, wherein said guided parts are displaceable arranged to be guided by guiding means arranged to guide the releasing units during the movement to arrange the said releasing units between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side. This may provide an advantageous solution where a sufficient movement range is obtained in order to provide that the releasing unit(s) may extend around of the animal body to the back side in between the skin and the carcass is provided.

The movement direction of the releasing units, when moving a part of the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs, may in embodiments of the invention be arranged to incline with an angle towards the head end of the animal body. This may e.g. be advantageous as the area where the releasing units are

guided/supported when moving the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs does not need to be in a position opposite to the front (i.e. the part of the animal hind legs facing the head end of the body) of the hind legs. This may be advantageous as the belly skin may not be pulled sufficiently without damaging the skin, as the skin may not yet have been released from the hind legs at this point.

It may also help to provide even further releasing of the skin at the back side, as it may provide that the releasing units will be arranged closer to the head end when they are moved in ahead of the hind legs than if the movement direction when moving the part of the releasing units that is to be moved in ahead of the hind legs is e.g. substantially perpendicular to the movement plane of the releasing device. In other embodiments of the invention, the releasing units may however be substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the animal body or a (separate) releasing device.

The releasing device may in preferred embodiments of the invention be separate to the releasing units, and said angle may hence be provided between a movement plane of the releasing device and the releasing unit(s). This may preferably be an acute angle, preferably between 50° and 88° such as between 60° and 85°.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, the movement directions of the respective releasing units when moving the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side may be arranged to be inclining towards each other.

This may help to provide that the skin is not damaged as it may provide that the skin is not stretched too much at the back side of the animal body when moving the releasing units in between the skin and the carcass from the belly side. It lay also provide advantages in relation to obtain an increased amount of loosening of the skin at the back side of the animal body by the movement of the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs. However, in other embodiments of the invention, the movement directions when moving the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side may be substantially parallel.

The releasing units may in advantageous embodiments of the invention be are arranged with an mutual angle so that the parts to be moved in ahead of the hind legs inclines towards a centre plane such as a vertical centre plane when moved in ahead of the hind legs, wherein the mutual angle is preferably between 3° and 110°, preferably between 5° and 90°, such as between 10° and 45°.

This may preferably be achieved by providing that the guided parts of the releasing units are arranged with a mutual angle. The movement directions of the respective releasing units when moving the part of the releasing units in ahead of the hind are thus arranged inclining in relation to each other.

Preferably, the mutual angle between the releasing units is an acute angle.

The mutual angle between the releasing units may in further embodiments of the invention be configured to be adjustable by angle adjusters. This may e.g. provide advantages if the releasing units are arranged to provide the releasing device to release the skin at the belly side, as this may require further adjustment possibilities of the releasing units to provide an arrangement of e.g. hook parts of the releasing units in a position to be able to provide the first releasing operation.

The relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units by the moving means may in preferred embodiments of the invention be configured to be provided by displacing the releasing units relative to the releasing device r longitudinal directions, preferably by a linear movement, in embodiments where the releasing device for providing the first releasing operation is separate to the releasing unit(s). This may e.g. provide a simple solution as the releasing device, holding arrangement and the like need not be arranged movable in the direction transverse to the movement provided during the first releasing operation in order to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs. In preferred embodiments of the invention, the first releasing operation is configured to be provided by moving the releasing device relative to the animal body and a frame of the apparatus. This has shown to provide a reliable, simple and efficient solution for releasing the skin at the belly side. Additionally, the Second releasing operation may in preferred embodiments of the invention also be configured to be provided by moving the releasing units by drive means relative to the animal body and a frame part of the apparatus. This may be the preferred solution as it may e.g. provide a simple and efficient solution. It may be especially advantageous in embodiments where the releasing units are moved by the same drive means as the releasing device in the longitudinal direction of the animal body, as it e.g. may provide a simple and efficient solution for providing the first and second releasing operation.

Alternatively, body holding means may in other aspects of the invention be arranged to be movable in the longitudinal direction of the animal body, thereby providing that the animal body is pulled relative to the releasing units in the longitudinal direction of the animal body, to obtain the second releasing operation

The holding arrangement may in preferred embodiments of the invention be configured to be controlled by the control arrangement to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set and a second jaw set, and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement. This has shown to provide a reliable and advantageous way of holding the animal body during releasing of the skin at the belly side of the animal body. However, it may also be advantageous to continue holding the animal body by such a holding arrangement during the second, relative rotational movement.

The jaw sets are preferably arranged to be moved away from each other by a stretching arrangement, e.g. before a cutting operation is provided by the apparatus to provide an opening into which the releasing device may be moved to release the skin at the belly side.

The apparatus may moreover, in embodiments of the invention comprises a paw cutting arrangement which is controllable by the control arrangement, and wherein the paw cutting arrangement is configured for cutting off the paws of the hind legs, thereby releasing said animal body from said holding arrangement before, during or after the releasing units have been arranged in the releasing position. It may be needed or advantageous to let the hind legs go in order to allow a releasing of the skin around the hind legs during the movement towards the rear end of the animal body. Cutting off the paws may be advantageous to provide by means of the apparatus as this may omit the need of a previous cutting operation to cut off the paws before the animal body is arranged in the apparatus as a more efficient processing of the furred animal body may hereby be provided.

The apparatus may in referred embodiments of the invention comprise body holding means, which body holding means are configured to be operated by said control arrangement to hold the animal body at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation.

The body holding means may in preferred aspects comprise one or more jaws/clamps and an operating unit, and the control arrangement may be configured to operate the operating unit in order to arrange the one or more jaws/clamps in a body holding position or an open position respectively. In advantageous embodiments of the invention, said body holding means may comprise a first body holding arrangement and a second body holding arrangement, wherein the first body holding arrangement is configured to be activated before said at least one releasing unit has been operated to the releasing position, and preferably also before said first relative movement is initiated, and wherein said second holding arrangement is configured to be activated after said at least one releasing unit have been operated to the releasing position and preferably before the second releasing operation is initiated.

Test results has shown that the second releasing operation may expose the animal body to a substantial force in the longitudinal direction of the animal body, order to provide a releasing of the skin at the back side of the animal body. This provides high demands to the body holding arrangement during the second releasing operation to assure that the body is not forced to slip between the body holding means, thereby spoiling the second releasing operation and/or damaging the fur. By operating the second body holding arrangement to be activated after said at least one releasing unit have been operated to the releasing position and preferably before the second releasing operation is initiated, this provides, together with the first body holding means, an enhanced holding force, thus reducing the risk of failed releasing of the skin/fur from the back side of the body and/or damaged fur.

The second body holding arrangement may in aspects of the invention be positioned to be arranged closer to the rear end of the animal body than the first body holding arrangement. Tests has shown that it is advantageous to provide the controllable, second body holding arrangement closest to the rear end of the animal body when compared to the position of the first body holding arrangement.

In preferred embodiments of the invention where the body holding means comprises both a first and a second body holding arrangement, said second body holding arrangement is preferably configured to be arranged so that a part of the releasing unit to be operated to the releasing position extends in between jaws/clamps of the second body holding arrangement after the first releasing operation and before the at least one releasing unit is operated to the releasing position. The relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units by the moving means may in preferred embodiments of the invention be configured to be provided by displacing the releasing units relative to a counter-hold part in their longitudinal directions, preferably by a linear movement, and wherein said counter- hold part is configured to be arranged between the skin and the carcass at the belly side.

Generally, the counter-hold part may help to provide a reliable operation of the apparatus, as e.g. more soft animal bodies, e.g. bodies that are warmed up to the ambient temperature after being cooled or frozen may be more soft. The counter hold part may help to provide a stretching functionality on the skin, and this may help to provide that such warmed up bodies may still be skinned in a reliable way by the apparatus, as it may e.g. provide an improved control of the skin. The counter-hold part may in embodiments of the invention be provided by a releasing device separate to the releasing units and intended for providing the first releasing operation at the belly side, or it may be provided by a counter-hold part which is not intended for providing the first releasing operation, e.g. in embodiments of the invention where the releasing units may substantially alone provide the first releasing operation, before being moved in ahead of the hind legs. The releasing device may in preferred embodiments of the invention be separate to said releasing units, and the releasing device may be configured to provide a releasing of the skin at the belly side of the animal body during the first releasing operation, while the at least one releasing unit may be configured to provide a releasing of the skin from the carcass at the back side of the animal body when the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position. Experiments have shown that this may provide an advantageous and rather simple apparatus for releasing the skin at the back and belly side respectively.

However, in other embodiments of the invention, at least one of said releasing units may be configured to provide the releasing device in order to provide the first releasing operation.

In preferred aspects of the invention, the releasing device may be configured to be moved (M4) in a direction away from the head end of the animal body before said second releasing operation is initiated.

This may help to e.g. frees more space between the skin and the carcass during the second releasing operation. Thereby, the carcass and skin can move more freely relative to each other, thus reducing the chances of damaging the skin during the second releasing operation when releasing skin at the back side of the body during the second releasing operation.

Advantageously, said releasing device may in aspects of the invention be configured to be moved in a direction away from the head end of the animal body after said releasing units have been displaced by moving means in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body.

The releasing device may thus help to provide a "counter hold" at the belly side when moving the releasing unit(s) ahead of the hind legs, before removing the releasing device.

The releasing units may in aspects of the invention be configured to be displaced by moving means in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body with different, predefined displacement lengths. This may e.g. reduce the risk of subjecting the animal body to an unsuccessful releasing of the skin from the body, which might damage the skin or require a further subsequent releasing of the skin from the body, as a human operator may adjust the releasing unit displacement operation to the individual mink body, e.g. dependent on if it is a male or female body.

The different, predefined displacement lengths may in aspects of the invention be configured to be controlled by one or more controllable, mechanical blocking elements, wherein at least one of said one or more mechanical blocking elements preferably is/are configured to be displaced between a blocking position where said one or more blocking elements is arranged to mechanically prevent further movement of said at least one releasing unit, and a second non-blocking position where the blocking element allows further movement of the releasing unit.

The invention moreover relates to a method of releasing the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body, wherein the method comprises the steps of

arranging the animal body in a holding arrangement, providing a first releasing operation where a releasing device is moved from a first position outside the animal body and into an opening at the rear end to a second position, thereby releasing the skin (3) from the carcass at the belly side of the animal body at the rear end, providing a relative movement between the animal body and releasing units, so the releasing units are moved from the belly side and in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs of the animal body, operating at least one of the releasing units to a releasing position so that the at least one releasing unit at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body between the skin and the carcass of the animal body, and providing a second releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing units in the longitudinal direction of the animal body in a direction away from the head end of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position, thereby releasing the skin from the carcass at the back side of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body.

In embodiments of the method, the at least one releasing unit may extend transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body in the releasing position.

In advantageous embodiments of the method, the relative movement between the releasing units and the animal body is provided by moving means (while the releasing device (5) is in the second position (POS2), and the releasing device may preferably be separate to the releasing units.

Preferably, the releasing units are in embodiments of the invention moved in the longitudinal direction of the animal body towards the head end of said animal body to an operation position by a first relative movement by the drive means, prior to and/or during said relative movement between the animal body and the releasing units from the belly of the animal body.

The releasing units may in embodiments of the method comprise guided parts, wherein the guided parts are longitudinal members such as rods, and wherein the longitudinal members are displaced by moving means in their longitudinal direction to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs.

In embodiments of the method, pulling means catches the rear end of the skin at the belly side during the first releasing operation and drags the skin in a direction towards the head end of the animal body. At least one of the releasing units comprises in preferred embodiments of the method, hook part, wherein the at least one releasing unit is operated so that the hook part is arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of the releasing unit.

The tip end of the hook part may thus in advantageous embodiments of the invention extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body during the first releasing operation. The hook part may advantageously, in embodiments of the method be arranged between the skin and the carcass during the first releasing operation, and thereby grab and pull a part of the skin at the belly side of the animal body from the rear end and towards the head end of the animal body, preferably by arranging the hook part at side edges of the releasing device during the first releasing operation.

In advantageous embodiments of the invention, two releasing units each comprising a hook part may be used, wherein said releasing units are operated so that the hook parts are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of said releasing units by rotation means.

The movement direction when moving a part of the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs may in advantageous embodiments of the invention incline with an angle towards the head end of the animal body.

In embodiments of the method, the movement directions of the respective releasing units when moving the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side may incline towards each other. The releasing units may here in embodiments of the invention preferably be are arranged with an mutual angle so that the parts inclines towards a centre plane when moved in ahead of the hind legs, wherein said angle is preferably between 3° and 110°, preferably between 5° and 90°, such as between 10° and 30°.

In preferred embodiments of the method, the releasing device may be separate to the releasing units, and the relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units by the moving means is provided by displacing the releasing units relative to the releasing device.

The first and second releasing operations may in advantageous embodiments of the method be provided by moving the releasing units and/or the releasing device by drive means relative to the animal body and a frame part of the apparatus.

The holding arrangement is in embodiments of the method controlled by the control arrangement to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement.

A paw cutting arrangement may subsequently, in embodiments of the method, cut off the paws of/from the hind legs, thereby releasing the hind legs of the animal body from the holding arrangement before, during or after the releasing units have been arranged in the releasing position.

In embodiments of the method, body holding means, are operated, e.g. by a control arrangement, to hold the animal body at a location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs of said animal body, at least during said second releasing operation.

The relative movement between said animal body and said releasing units by the moving means may in embodiments of the method be provided by displacing the releasing units relative to a counter-hold part in their longitudinal directions, preferably by a linear movement, and wherein the counter-hold part is arranged between the skin and the carcass at the belly side during this movement.

In preferred embodiments of the method, the releasing device is separate to said releasing units, wherein the releasing device provides a releasing of the skin at the belly side of the animal body during the first releasing operation, and wherein at least one of the releasing units provides a releasing of the skin from the carcass at the back side of the animal body when the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position.

In other embodiments of the method, at least one of said releasing units may provide the releasing device in order to provide the first releasing operation, preferably by means of a hook part.

Generally, it is understood that the method in embodiments of the invention may be provided by means of an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34.

The invention moreover relates to a computer program product which, when installed in a data storage of a control arrangement of an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34, is configured to provide the method of any of claims 35-58.

Additionally, the invention relates to use of an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34 and/or a method according to any of claims 35-58 for releasing the skin at the rear end part of a dead furred animal body (2) such as a mink body.

In a second aspect of the invention, the invention relates to an apparatus for releasing the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body, wherein said apparatus comprises: a control arrangement for controlling the apparatus,

a holding arrangement for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus,

a releasing device, and drive means configured to be controlled by the control arrangement, wherein said drive means are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing device in the longitudinal direction of the animal body to move the releasing device from a first position outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end of the animal body to a second position so as to release the skin from the carcass at the belly side of the animal body, wherein said apparatus comprises at least one releasing unit configured to be operated to a releasing position by means of said control arrangement so that the at least one releasing unit at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body, and wherein the control arrangement is configured to operate drive means to provide a second releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing unit in the longitudinal direction of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position so that the at least one releasing unit is moved from a position in between the skin and the carcass, in a direction away from the head end of the animal body. The releasing device is configured to be moved in a direction away from the head end of the animal body before said second releasing operation is initiated.

The inventor has found out that moving the releasing device in a direction away from the head end of the animal body before the second releasing operation is initiated is advantageous as it frees more space between the skin and the carcass during the second releasing operation where the at least one releasing unit at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body. Also, the carcass and skin can hereby move more freely relative to each other. This may e.g. help to reduce the risk of damaging the skin during the second releasing operation when releasing skin at the back side of the body during the second releasing operation.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the releasing device is configured to be moved towards the rear end of the animal body so that it will be substantially free from the rear end of the animal body, before the second releasing operation is initiated. This may advantageously help to reduce the risk of damaging the skin during the second releasing operation. However, in further aspects, the second releasing operation may be initiated after the releasing devices has started to move away from the head end, but before the releasing device it is fully free from the animal body.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the movement of the releasing device away from the head end of the animal body may be configured to have a length between 100 mm and 500 mm, preferably between 150 mm and 350 mm, such as between mm and 300 mm, e.g. between 230 and 280 mm.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, said releasing device and said at least one releasing unit is configured to be moved towards the head end of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement during said first releasing operation. This may e.g. help to provide a faster releasing process when using the apparatus. Moreover, it may help to arrange the releasing device(s) in a correct position before it/they are moved to the releasing position, preferably by first displacing the releasing unit(s) in ahead of the hind legs and then rotating the releasing unit(s) to the releasing position.

In advantageous aspects of the second aspect of the invention, said at least one releasing unit, is configured to be displaced by moving means in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body by a relative movement between said animal body and said at least one releasing unit, wherein the moving means are controllable by the control arrangement.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the releasing device may be configured to be moved in a direction away from the head end of the animal body after said at least one releasing unit has been displaced by moving means in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body by a relative movement between said animal body and said at least one releasing unit, and before said second releasing operation is initiated.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the at least one releasing unit may be configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by means of a rotational movement.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, said apparatus comprises two releasing units each comprising a guided part, wherein the guided part is a longitudinal member such as a rod, and wherein the longitudinal member is configured to be displaced by moving means in its longitudinal direction to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs.

The at least one releasing unit and the releasing device are in aspects of the second aspect of the invention connected to the same guided element, and said guided element is arranged to be guided by a guiding element, preferably to provide at least said first releasing operation and/or said second releasing operation.

In preferred aspects of the second aspect of the invention, said at least one releasing unit comprises a hook part, and wherein the at least one releasing unit is configured to be operated so that the hook part is arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of the releasing unit. In aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the apparatus comprises two releasing units each comprising a hook part, and wherein said releasing units are configured to be operated so that the hook parts are arranged to extend at the back side of the animal body from opposite sides in the releasing position, preferably by a rotational movement of said releasing units by rotation means. Preferably, in aspects of the second aspect of the invention, the tip end of the hook part may be configured to extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body during the first releasing operation. Preferably, the apparatus, in aspects of the second aspect of the invention, may comprise two releasing units each comprising a guided longitudinal part such as a rod, wherein said guided parts are displaceable arranged to be guided by guiding means arranged to guide the releasing units during the movement to arrange the said releasing units between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body.

Preferably, said holding arrangement, in embodiments of the second aspect, may be configured to be controlled by the control arrangement to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set and a second jaw set, and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement.

Preferably, in embodiments of the second aspect, the apparatus comprises body holding means configured to be operated by said control arrangement to hold the animal body at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation. The body holding means may advantageously, in aspects of the second aspect of the invention, comprise a first body holding arrangement and a second body holding arrangement, wherein the first holding arrangement is configured to be activated before said at least one releasing unit has been operated to the releasing position, and wherein said second holding arrangement is configured to be activated after said at least one releasing unit has been operated to the releasing position and preferably before the second releasing operation is initiated. Preferably, in aspects, said second body holding arrangement is arranged to be closer to the rear end of the animal body than the first body holding arrangement, and wherein said second body holding arrangement is adapted to be activated after the releasing device has been moved in the direction away from the head end and before the second releasing operation is initiated.

This helps to provide space for the said second body holding arrangement, and experiments have shown that this solution provides an advantageous holding of the body during the second releasing operation, as the second releasing operation may subject the skin to substantial forces when releasing the skin from the carcass at the back side and preferably also hind legs and/or tail.

The second body holding arrangement may advantageously, in aspects, be positioned so that a part of the releasing unit to be operated to the releasing position, e.g. the tip end of a hook part, extends in between jaws/clamps of the second body holding arrangement after the first releasing operation and before the at least one releasing unit is operated to the releasing position at the back side of the animal body.

The invention moreover relates to a further method of releasing the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body, wherein said method comprises the steps of:

arranging said animal body in a holding arrangement, moving a releasing device by drive means to provide a first releasing operation where a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing device is provided in the longitudinal direction of the animal body so that the releasing device is moved from a first position outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end of the animal body to a second position to release the skin from the carcass at the belly side of the animal body, moving at least one releasing unit to a releasing position so that the at least one releasing unit at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body, and providing a second releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing unit in the longitudinal direction of the animal body while the at least one releasing unit is in the releasing position so that the at least one releasing unit is moved from a position in between the skin and the carcass, away from the head end of the animal body thereby releasing the skin from the back side of the animal body and preferably also from the hind legs and/or tail of the animal body, wherein said releasing device is moved in a direction away from the head end of the animal body before said second releasing operation is initiated.

In aspects of the further method, said releasing device may be moved away from the head end of the animal body so that is substantially free from the animal body, before the second releasing operation is initiated. In preferred aspects of the further method, said at least one releasing unit is moved towards the head end of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement during said first releasing operation.

Said at least one releasing unit may preferably, In aspects of the further method, be displaced in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs from the belly side of the animal body by a relative movement between said animal body and said at least one releasing unit.

Preferably in aspects of the further method, said releasing device provides a counter hold at the belly side of the animal body when displacing the at least one releasing unit in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of the hind legs. In aspects of the further method, the at least one releasing unit extends transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body in the releasing position, so as to extend between skin and carcass at the back side.

The apparatus according to the second aspect may in aspects be an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34, and/or be configured to operate according to the method of any of claims 35-58 and/or any of claims 79-84. The invention may moreover relate to use of an apparatus according to any of claims 61-78 and/or a method according to any of claims 79-84 for releasing the skin at the rear end part of a dead furred animal body such as a mink body.

Additionally, the invention in a third aspect relates to an apparatus for releasing the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body, wherein said apparatus comprises: a control arrangement for controlling the apparatus, and

a holding arrangement for holding the dead animal body in said apparatus, wherein said apparatus comprises at least one releasing unit adapted to be displaced by a moving arrangement in a releasing unit displacement operation so that the at least one releasing unit is displaced in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of hind legs of the animal body from the belly side of the animal body, wherein the control arrangement is configured to control said releasing unit displacement operation, wherein the control arrangement is configured to operate drive means to provide a releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing unit in the longitudinal direction of the animal body so that the at least one releasing unit is moved from a position in between the skin and the carcass, away from the head end of the animal body to release skin at from the carcass at the rear end of the animal body by means of said at least one releasing unit, and wherein said releasing unit displacement operation is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths. It has appeared that the optimal displacement length when displacing the releasing unit in between the animal skin and the carcass ahead of hind legs of the animal body from the belly side of the animal body might vary dependent on the size of the animal body, e.g. dependent on the gender of the animal body. For example, a body from a dead female mink might be significantly smaller than a body from a dead male mink. Also, different species of mink might have different sizes. Accordingly, the inventor has recognized that by adapting the apparatus so that the releasing unit displacement operation is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths, and enabling that a human operator can provide a selection between the different, predefined displacement lengths, several advantages may be achieved. For example, it might reduce the risk of subjecting the animal body to an unsuccessful releasing of the skin from the body, which might damage the skin or require a further subsequent releasing of the skin from the body, as the operator can adjust the releasing unit displacement operation to the individual mink body.

Additionally, it might help to provide increased speed as the user can select between predefined displacement lengths. Moreover, it might help to increase the yield of animal bodies which comprises skin successfully released at the back side at the rear part of the animal body.

In aspects of said third aspect, said at least one releasing unit is configured to be operated to a releasing positon where it at least partly extend at the back side of said animal body.

In aspects of said third aspect, said apparatus may comprise at least two releasing units, and wherein at least one of said releasing units, preferably both releasing units, comprises a hook part configured to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body in the releasing position, preferably by means of a rotational movement.

A selection between different, predefined displacement lengths may in aspects of the third aspect be configured to be controlled by one or more controllable, mechanical blocking elements.

The one or more mechanical blocking elements may preferably, in aspects, be configured to be displaced between a blocking position where said one or more blocking elements is arranged to mechanically prevent further movement of said at least one releasing unit, and a second non-blocking position where the blocking element allows further movement of the releasing unit.

The one or more mechanical blocking elements may preferably, in aspects, be adapted to be adjusted in a direction substantially parallel to the movement direction of said at least one releasing unit during the releasing unit displacement operation. This may provide the possibility of fine tuning the position of the blocking elements so that the respective position of the blocking elements in the movement direction provides blocking of the movement at the optimal/desired position.

In preferred aspects of said third aspect, the releasing unit displacement operation may be adapted to be provided by means of a linear actuator such as a pneumatically controlled cylinder. In aspects of said third aspect, said releasing unit displacement operation is configured to provide a displacement of said at least one releasing unit which is between 30 mm and 250 mm, preferably between 35 mm and 170 mm, such as between 40 mm and 150 mm. In preferred aspects of said third aspect, the apparatus may comprise a releasing device and drive means, wherein said drive means are configured to be controlled by the control arrangement, and wherein said drive means are configured for providing a first releasing operation by a relative movement between the animal body and the releasing device in the longitudinal direction of the animal body to move the releasing device from a first position outside said animal body, into an opening at the rear end of the animal body to a second position so as to release the skin from the carcass at the belly side of the animal body. The releasing device may preferably be separate to the releasing unit(s).

In aspects of said third aspect, said at least one releasing unit may be configured to be moved towards the head end of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement during said first releasing operation.

In preferred aspects of said third aspect of the invention, said at least one releasing unit may comprises a hook part having a tip end, wherein said tip end of the hook part preferably is configured to extend in a direction towards the head end of the animal body during said first releasing operation.

In preferred aspects of said third aspect of the invention, said apparatus comprises two releasing units each comprising a guided part, wherein the guided part is a longitudinal member such as a rod, and wherein the longitudinal member is configured to be displaced by moving means in its longitudinal direction so as to provide said releasing unit displacement operation. In preferred aspects of said third aspect of the invention, said holding arrangement is configured to be controlled by the control arrangement to a holding position to provide a holding operation of the animal body at the hind legs of the animal body, at least while the first releasing operation is provided, preferably by means of a first jaw set and a second jaw set, and preferably so that the animal body hangs downwards from the holding arrangement, In preferred aspects of said third aspect of the invention, said apparatus comprises body holding means, which body holding means are configured to be operated by said control arrangement to hold the animal body at location ahead of the hind legs, preferably between the head end of said animal body and the hind legs of said animal body, preferably at least during said second releasing operation, and/or during arranging the releasing unit(s) at the releasing position by a rotational movement to e.g. arrange a hook part to extend transverse to the longitudinal direction of the animal body. In aspects of said third aspect of the invention the apparatus is an apparatus according to any of claims 1-34 and/or an apparatus according to any of claims 61- 78.

Generally, it is to be understood that one or more of the aspects described in relation to the second or third aspect, and/or the further method, may provide advantages described above in relation to the first aspect and/or method or vice versa. Moreover, it is to be understood that the aspects/embodiments mentioned in relation first aspect and/or method in further embodiments of the invention may be utilized in relation to the second or third aspect, and/or the further method.

Figures

Aspects of the present disclosure will be described in the following with reference to the figures in which: fig. 1 : illustrates an apparatus according to embodiments of the

invention, seen in perspective, fig. 2 : illustrates an embodiment of the invention where a releasing device is arranged in a first initial position outside the animal body, fig. 3 : illustrates embodiments of the invention where a releasing device and in a second position in between carcass and skin, respectively, : illustrates embodiments of the invention seen from the side where a releasing device is in a second position in between carcass and skin at the belly side and releasing units are in an operation position,

: illustrates embodiments of the invention where releasing units are moved in ahead of hind legs of the animal body between the skin and the carcass

: illustrates embodiments of the invention where releasing units are operated to a releasing position at the back side of the animal body

: illustrates an embodiment of the invention where a paw cutting arrangement is utilized

: illustrates another embodiment of the invention where a releasing unit is operated to a releasing position at the back side of the animal body,

: Illustrates a flow chart according to embodiments of the invention,

: schematically illustrates embodiments of a control arrangement,

: illustrates embodiments of the invention where the apparatus comprises pulling means, 13 : illustrates an embodiment of the invention where the movement direction of releasing units inclines in a direction towards the head

30 end of the animal body, : illustrates an embodiment of the invention where a mutual angle is provided between releasing units,

: illustrates embodiments of the invention wherein releasing units may provide a releasing device for releasing the skin at the belly side if a furred animal body, illustrates embodiments of the invention where the apparatus comprises a first and a second body holding arrangement, illustrates embodiments of the invention wherein a releasing device is configured to be moved away from a head end before releasing units are moved, illustrates further embodiments of the invention where a releasing device is configured to be moved away from a head end before releasing units are moved, illustrates an embodiment of the invention where a releasing device is moved to an initial position to be ready for a new operation, illustrates an embodiment of the invention where releasing units are adjusted to an initial position to be ready for a new operation, illustrates embodiments of the invention where a releasing device is configured to be moved relative to releasing units in a substantially linear movement, illustrates embodiments of the invention, wherein a releasing unit displacement operation is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths, and figs 24a-24c illustrates further embodiments of the invention, wherein a releasing unit displacement operation is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths.

Detailed description

Fig. 1 illustrates an apparatus 1 according to embodiments of the invention, seen in perspective. The apparatus 1 is configured to be used during releasing of the skin of a body of a dead, furred animal, such as a mink, from the carcass of the animal body at the rear end of the animal body.

The apparatus comprises a frame part 14, which may be arranged to support on a floor (not illustrated) or alternatively attached to a wall.

A guiding element 15 is attached to the frame part 14, and is arranged to guide a guided element 16, which is displaceable in the longitudinal direction of the guiding element. Preferably, as illustrated in fig. 1 , the guiding element and the guided element may be provided by a telescopic solution, but any other suitable solutions may be provided in other embodiments of the invention.

The guiding element 15 and the guided element 16 may be provided by a telescopic extension solution where the guided element 16 is moved relative to the guiding element in a linear movement, e.g. internally (as illustrated) in the guiding element to provide a substantially linear movement Ml .

The apparatus moreover comprises a releasing device 5. The releasing device 5 is attached to the guided element 16, and will this be displaced together with the guided element 16. The releasing device 5 comprises a lower edge 5a to be moved in between the skin and the carcass of the animal body. The releasing device 5 is connected to the guided element 16 by means of a spacer 25 part which provides a space between the releasing device and the guided element 16 wherein the released belly skin can be arranged during the first releasing operation Ml .

The apparatus also comprises a holding arrangement comprising jaws 7a, 7b. These are attached to the frame 14 (not illustrated), so that a relative movement between the jaws 7a, 7b and the releasing device 5 can be provided by displacing the guided element 16 relative to the guiding element 15 by drive means 6 such as an electric motor, e.g. connected to a spindle or a chain (not illustrated) in the guided part. The drive means 6 may also comprise a linear, e.g. pneumatic actuator and/or the like, e.g. arranged above the releasing device 5. When the guided part 16 is displaced downwards by the movement M 1 , the releasing device 5 is thus displaced downwards with the edge 5 a leading, and will thus be moved in between the skin and the carcass of the animal body from the rear end towards the head end of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction of the animal body.

Moreover, the apparatus comprises releasing units 8a, 8b, comprising guided parts 12a, 12b in the form of rods 12 which extend into guiding means 13 a, 13b configured for guiding the rod during a movement M2 in the longitudinal direction LD 1 of the releasing units 8 a, 8b.

The apparatus comprises moving means 17 are arranged to displace the releasing units 8a, 8b in the longitudinal direction LD1 relative to the guided part 16, so that the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved past the releasing device 5. At least one of the releasing units comprises a hook part 1 la, 1 lb. The hook part(s) 11a, l ib are configured to be operated in order to be moved in a direction M2 by the moving means 17 to a position ahead of hind legs of the animal body by guiding the guided parts 12a, 12b in the guiding means 13 a, 13b. The relative movement M2 between the releasing units 8a, 8b and the animal body by the moving means 17 is a movement M2 transverse to the relative movement direction Ml between the animal body and the releasing device 5 in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body.

The guiding means 13a, 13b are arranged at support parts 24a, 24b such as a pair of support arms extending from the guided element 16 and the releasing units are thus guided in the directions Ml, M3 together with the releasing device 5.

After this, the releasing units 8a, 8b may be rotated around the longitudinal direction LDl by moving means 17 so that the hook part 11a, 1 lb is moved in between the skin and the carcass at the side of the animal body facing away from the releasing device.

For that purpose, the hook part 11a, 1 lb is provided by a bend 26 at the releasing unit 8a, 8b in order to obtain that the hook part 11a, 1 lb extends in a direction different from the longitudinal direction LDl of the guided part 12a, 12b, so that a rotational movement around the longitudinal direction LD 1 will rotate the hook part to extend e.g. in over the back side of the animal body between the skin and the carcass at a releasing position as described in more details later on.

The same moving means 17 may be arranged to both provide the movement of the releasing units 8a, 8b in the longitudinal direction LDl, as well as the rotation around the longitudinal direction LD 1 , or these operations may be provided by separate moving means (not illustrated), see e.g. fig 11 where first rotation means 30 are arranged to provide the rotation of at least one releasing unit 8a, 8b around its longitudinal direction, and the moving means 17 for moving the releasing units in the longitudinal direction LDl . The hook part 11a, l ib may be arranged to be substantially parallel to side edges 5b, 5c during the downwards movement Ml, e.g. to abut the side edges, and the hook parts 11a, l ib may thus be moved in between the skin and the animal carcass during this movement M 1.

The releasing device 5 may in preferred embodiments of the invention be separate to the releasing units 8a, 8b as illustrated, and may preferably comprise a plate such as a metal plate or alternatively a plastic plate or a fibre plate such as a glass fibre plate having a front side surface 5d and a back side surface 5e. The back side surface 5e is arranged for facing the flesh side of the released belly skin at the belly side of the animal body when it is moved in between the carcass and the skin at the belly side. The front side surface 5d will face the belly side of the carcass during the first releasing operation. Alternatively, the releasing device 5 may in other embodiments of the invention comprise a rod with a T or U shape at the free end 5a, e.g. as described and illustrated in the Danish utility models DK 2007 00111 U3 or DK 2007 00064 U4.

In still further embodiments of the invention as described in relation to e.g. fig. 15 and/or 16a- 16b, one or both of the releasing units 8a, 8b may provide the releasing device 5 for providing the first releasing operation.

Embodiments of the apparatus 1 and the operation thereof according to embodiments of the invention are described in more details in the following. Fig. 2 illustrates schematically the releasing device arranged in a first initial position POS1 outside the animal body.

The jaws 7a, 7b of the holding arrangement holds the animal body 2 in the hind legs 9a, 9b. The jaw arrangements 7a, 7b or other suitable holding arrangements, may be arranged to be moved away from each other in embodiments of the invention, e.g. horizontally, in order to provide a spreading/stretching operation SO, to spread the hind legs 9a, 9b away from each other. This exposes the rear end 2b of the animal body, so that the releasing device 3 can be moved into the opening 18 at the rear end 2b. The opening 18 may in embodiments of the invention be provided by a cutting unit 60 of the apparatus 1 arranged to be moved from one hind leg to the other to provide a cutting operation CO. It is to be understood that the apparatus 1 may comprise such a cutting unit 60, such as a circular saw or the like, in embodiments of the invention. In other embodiments, the cutting operation CO may have been provided before the animal body 2 is arranged in the holding arrangement 7a, 7b.

The releasing device 5 is then moved into the opening 18 at the belly side of the animal body, between the belly part of the carcass 4 and the skin 3 at the belly side. As can be seen from fig. 2, the hook part(s) of the releasing units 8a, 8b comprises a free tip end 19 which is arranged to point towards the head end during the movement Ml .

After the movement, the releasing device 5 and the hook part(s) 11a, 1 lb of the releasing units 8a, 8b by the drive means 6 is arranged in between the skin and the belly side of the animal carcass 4 as illustrated schematically in fig. 3

The hook parts 11a, l ib may a grab and pull a part of the skin 3 at the belly side of the animal body 2 from the rear end and towards the head end of the animal body 2, so that the skin at the belly side will not be in the way when the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved in ahead of the hind legs. The hook parts may also in embodiments of the invention help to provide a releasing of the skin at the belly side by thus pulling functionality. In embodiments of the invention, the apparatus 1 may comprise a body holding arrangement 70 for holding at least partly around the animal body 2, e.g. by one or more jaws/clamps 71a, 71b which are moved between an open position and a holding position by an operating unit 72 such as a an electric motor, a linear actuator or the like of the holding arrangement. The body holding arrangement is controlled by the control arrangement 10 which transmits control signals to the operating unit 72 of the body holding arrangement in order to arrange the jaws/clamps 71a, 71b in a body holding position to hold the body 2 between the fore legs and the hind legs 9a, 9b. When the control arrangement transmits a second control signal, the operating unit of the body holding arrangement moves the jaw(s)/clamp(s) to an open position to release the animal body, after the second releasing operation. The holding by the body holding arrangement 70 is provided below the lowest edge 5 a of the releasing device 5 when the releasing device 5 is in the second position POS2 and arranged in between the skin 3 and the carcass 4 at the belly side 21 of the animal body 2. The control arrangement 10 can thus control the operating unit 72 to control the holding and releasing of the body 2. The operating unit 72 may in embodiments of the invention be a hydraulic or pneumatic actuator, it may be an electric motor or the like.

Fig 4 illustrates an embodiment of the invention seen in perspective, where the releasing device 5 is arranged in the second position as in fig. 3. The holding arrangement 7a, 7b, and the skin 3 has been omitted from figs. 4-7 in order to enhance the understanding of the drawings.

During the movement Ml as illustrated in figs 1-2 to provide the first releasing operation by the releasing device, the releasing units 8a, 8b are also moved in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body 2 towards the head end 2a of the animal body to an operation position OP by the first relative movement Ml . In the operation position OP, the releasing units 8a, 8b can be moved in between the hind legs 9a, 9b.

The following movement M2 as illustrated in fig 5 between the animal body 2 and the releasing units 8a, 8b from the belly side of the animal body 2 by the moving means 17 (not illustrated) may in embodiments of the invention be provided prior to and/or during the movement Ml .

Fig. 5 illustrated the embodiment of fig. 4 where the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved in in ahead of the respective hind legs at the side of the legs 9a, 9b facing the head end 2a. It is generally understood that the animal body in preferred embodiments of the invention may be arranged to hang with the head facing downwards, thereby providing that the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved in under the hind legs 9a, 9b. of the animal body.

The movement M2 between the animal body 2 and the releasing parts 8a, 8b by the moving means 17 is configured to be provided by displacing the releasing units 8a, 8b relative to the releasing device 5, so that the releasing units 8a, 8 are moved past side parts of the animal body between the front legs 20a, 20b and the hind legs 9a, 9b in a direction transverse to the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body 2.

The movement M2 is in preferred embodiments of the invention provided while body holding means 70, hold the animal body 2 at location between the head end 2a of the animal body 2 and the hind legs 9a, 9b, of the animal body. This is described in more details in relation to fig. 6.

The movement M2 between the releasing units 8a, 8b and the animal body 2 by the moving means 17 is provided while the releasing device 5 is in the second position POS2, and thus the releasing device will provide a counter hold at the belly side of the animal body as the releasing device 5 is arranged between the belly side of the animal body and the skin (not illustrated in figs. 4-7).

Figs 6-7 illustrates embodiments of the invention where the releasing units 8a, 8b are operated to a releasing position RP by means of the control arrangement 10 so that they at least partly extend at the back side 22 of the animal body 2. This is provided by performing a rotational movement RM around the longitudinal direction of the respective releasing unit 8a, 8b, to move the hook parts 11a, 1 lb so that they extend transverse to the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body 2 in the releasing position RP. This will provide a releasing of the skin from the carcass 4 at the back side during the rotation as the hook parts 11a, 1 lb are moved during the rotational movement RM in between the skin and the carcass at the back side 22.

As illustrated in figs 6-7, one of the releasing units 8b may be rotated to the releasing position (see fig. 6), and the other releasing unit 8b may then subsequently be rotated (see fig. 7) so that the hook parts 11a, 1 lb overlap at the back side 22. After the rotational movement RM, the releasing units extend transverse to the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body in the releasing position RP at the back side of the animal body.

The releasing units and the releasing device 5 are then moved upwards to provide a second releasing operation in a direction away from the head end 2a of the animal body while the releasing units 8a, 8b are in the releasing position RP. This is provided relative to the body holding means 70, thereby providing that the releasing units 8a, 8b are displaced between the skin and the carcass 4 towards the rear end 2b of the animal body. Thereby, as the releasing unit(s) extend at the back side 22 of the rear part of the body 2 in between the skin and the carcass 4, the releasing units will release the skin from back part at the rear end of the body, and around the hind legs 9a, 9b and tail 2c of the animal body.

It is to be understood that the apparatus may comprise a tail cutting arrangement (not illustrated) which is operated to cut the tail open in the longitudinal direction of the tail during the second releasing operation M3, so that the releasing units 8a, 8b are able to release the skin from the tail 2c when they reaches the tail.

The apparatus 1 may in embodiments of the invention as illustrated schematically in fig. 8 comprise a paw cutting arrangement 50a, 50b with one or more cutting devices 51 such as a knife, saw or the like for cutting off the paws of the hind legs 9a, 9b before the second releasing operation is provided, or alternatively, the holding arrangements 7a, 7b may in other embodiments of the invention be moved to an open position if the paws have been cut off before the hind legs are arranged in the apparatus 1. This cutting may be provided to allow the second releasing operation so that the pelt/skin is also released around the hind legs during the second releasing operation by the releasing units 8a, 8b in the releasing position during the movement M3 to provide the second releasing operation at the back side of the animal body 2.

After the releasing device 5 has been moved to the first position again, the releasing units may be moved by the moving means 17 to their initial position as illustrated in fig 1 and 2 in order to be ready for a new releasing process.

It is understood that in fig. 8, the releasing device 5 extend at the belly side 21 of the body 2 while the releasing units 8a, 8b in the releasing position RP extend at the back side 22 of the animal body 2, see e.g. figs. 4-7.

Fig. 9 illustrates an embodiment of the invention, seen in perspective, where only one 8b of the releasing units comprises a hook part l ib. The other releasing unit 1 may not comprise a hook part and may e.g. be substantially linear. The hook part 1 lb is thus longer than if both of the releasing units 8 a, 8b should be moved to the releasing position at the back side 22, as it is preferred that the hook part 1 lb can extend in over the back side between the skin and the back side of the carcass 4 to overlap the releasing unit 8a at the other side of the animal body, transversely to the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body in the releasing position RP.

Fig. 10 illustrates a flow chart for the operation of the apparatus 1 by means of a control arrangement 10 according to embodiments of the invention.

In step SI the control arrangement 10 provides instructions to one or more holding arrangements 7a, 7b, 70 in order to fix the animal body in the apparatus 1, preferably after a user has arranged the body and/or the hind legs in a suitable position and activated one or more start buttons or the like of the apparatus 1.

In test Tl the control arrangement may test if the holding arrangement(s) have closed. If it has the control arrangement goes to the next step S2. Alternatively, test Tl may be omitted and the user may manually activate a button or the like in order to activate step S2.

In step S2 the control arrangement 10 moves the paw holding arrangements 7a, 7b so as jaws as previously described away from each other to stretch the hind legs away from each other, e.g. horizontally, and activates a cutting unit 60 to be moved from one hind leg to the other to provide a cutting operation CO to provide an opening at the rear part of the animal body. Alternatively, this cutting operation may have been pre-performed before the animal body is arranged in the apparatus 1.

In test T2 the control arrangement may test if the stretching and/or cutting operation has been provided, e.g. by sensors or the like. Alternatively, a user may activate a button or the like in order to activate step S3. In step S3 the control arrangement provides a movement Ml of the releasing device 5 in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body by drive means 6 in order to provide the First Releasing Operation (FRO) at the belly side at the rear end of the animal body 2. In test T3 the control arrangement 10 may test the first releasing operation at the belly side has been provided, e.g. by a sensor or the like. Alternatively, a user may activate a button or the like in order to activate step S4.

In step S4, the control arrangement 10 operates moving means in order to move the releasing units 8a, 8b in between the animal skin 3 and the carcass 4 ahead of the hind legs 9a, 9b from the belly side of the animal body 2 by a relative movement M2 between the animal body 2 and the respective releasing unit 8a, 8b. In test T4 the control arrangement may test if the movement M2 has been done, e.g. by means of input from an end stop or another sensor, a stepper motor (if the moving means 6 comprises a stepper motor) and/or the like. Alternatively, a user may activate a button or the like in order to activate step S5.

In step S5, the control arrangement provides output signals in order to arrange the releasing unit(s) in the releasing position RP as e.g. previously described, so that the releasing unit(s) is/are arranged at the back side of the animal body.

In step S6, the control arrangement may control a paw cutter arrangement for cutting off the paws of the hind legs, by controlling a cutting arrangement 5a, 50b with one or more cutting devices 51, e.g. comprising one or more saws, knives or the like. Alternatively, step S6 may comprise that jaws of the holding arrangement releases the hind legs again, as the paws of the hind legs may have been cut off previously.

In test T6 the control arrangement may test if the cutting off of the hind legs has been done, e.g. by means of input from the cutting arrangement. Alternatively, a user may visually see that the hind legs have been cut and hence press a button or the like in order to activate step S7.

In step S7 the control arrangement activates drive means 6 in order to provide a further, relative movement M3 so that the releasing device 5 and the releasing unit(s) in the releasing position RP are pulled out of the animal body again, thereby providing the Second Releasing Operation (SRO) in order to release skin at the back side of the animal body.

In test T7, the control arrangement may test if the second releasing operation at the back side of the animal pelt has been performed, e.g. by testing if the releasing arrangement has been moved from the second position POS2 to the first position POS l again, see e.g. figs. 1,2. Alternatively, this test may be provided by a user who may press a button in order to activate step S8.

The control arrangement may then release body holding means 70 (in embodiments where the apparatus 1 comprises body holding means) (step S8), and hereby release the body from the apparatus 1.

The apparatus 1 has thus, by the above mentioned steps (of which e.g. step S2, and S6 in embodiments of the invention may be omitted) have released the skin from the animal body at the rear end of the belly side of the animal body and from the back side at the rear end of said animal body so that the animal body is now ready for skinning by a skinning apparatus.

Fig. 11 schematically illustrates an embodiment of the control arrangement of the apparatus 1. The control arrangement 10 comprises one or more input/output arrangements 10a for controlling the operation of the apparatus 1 by means of the control unit 10b in accordance with the program code stored in a data storage 10c.

As illustrated the control arrangement 10 may by control signals CS control one or more of the following:

• the holding arrangement 7a, 7b, for holding the paws/hind legs of the animal body in the apparatus. This may comprise controlling displacement means 41a, 41b such as a linear actuator, a chain drive, a tooth wheel drive or the like to stretching the hind legs away from each other and/or to open and close jaws of the holding arrangement 50a, 50b by jaw control means 42a, 42b,

• a drive 72 such as a motor, an actuator or the like for controlling the body holding arrangement 70 for holding at least partly around the animal body 40, e.g. by jaws, movable brackets or the like 71a, 71b,

• a cutting unit 60 configured to be moved from one hind leg of the animal body to the other to provide a cutting operation in order to provide an opening 18 a the rear end of the animal body between the hind legs drive means 6 for providing the relative displacement Ml between the releasing device 5 and the animal body (not illustrated in fig. 11) in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body, to provide the first releasing operation at the belly side of the animal body,

moving means 17 for moving the releasing units 8a, 8b in between the animal skin 3 and the carcass 4 ahead of the hind legs 9a, 9b from the belly side of the animal body 2 by a relative movement M2 between the animal body and the releasing units 8a, 8b,

rotation means 30 such as an electrical motor or any other suitable arrangement for providing a rotational movement RM so that at least one of the releasing units 8a, 8b is/are operated to a releasing position RP to partly extend at the back side of said animal body 2, e.g. by a hook part 11a, 1 lb extending at the back side.

drive means 6 for providing the displacement M3 between the animal body 40 and the releasing arrangement 2 in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body to provide the second releasing operation, thereby releasing the skin from the rear end of the animal body at back side towards the rear end of the animal body,

one or more cutting device controllers 52a, 52b such as an pneumatic or hydraulic actuator, an electric motor or the like for controlling the cutting devices 51 for cutting off the paws of the hind legs before the second releasing operation

a tail cutting arrangement (not illustrated) for cutting the tail open, preferably during the second releasing operation before the releasing unit(s) reaches the tail,

A cutting unit (not illustrated) for cutting around the anus part of the dead animal body 40. Such a cutting unit may be provided together with the tail cutting arrangement so that during the first movement Ml towards the head end of the animal body, the cutting unit for cutting around the anus part will provide this cutting operation, and during the second movement M2, the tail cutting arrangement cuts the tail open in the longitudinal direction of the tail to provide that a releasing device or devices 5 a, 5b can release the skin from the tail part.

The control is preferably provided based on one or more user inputs UI such as start/stop instructions provided by an operator/user activating one or more mechanical buttons, buttons visualized at a touch screen (not illustrated) and/or the like.

The control arrangement 10 may in embodiments comprise be a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), or any other suitable type of analog and/or digital computer suitable for controlling an automation system.

As illustrated, The cutting device controllers, the guiding part 15, the displacement means 41a, 41b, the body holding arrangement 70, the holding arrangement 50a, 50b for paws of hind legs, the drive means 6, the drive of the body holding arrangement (and/or the jaws/brackets 71a, 71b) and/or the like may in embodiments of the invention be connected directly or indirectly to a fixed frame part 14 of the apparatus 1 and are arranged at suitable positions in order to provide the task for which they are provided/intended. The releasing units and the moving means 17, 30 may however be connected to the guided part 16 in order to provide that the releasing units 8a, 8b moves in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body together with the releasing device 5 during the first and/or second releasing operations.

Fig. 12 illustrates an embodiment of the invention seen in perspective where the apparatus comprises pulling means 23 arranged at the releasing device 5 or alternatively they could be arranged at the guided part 16 connected to the releasing device 5.

The pulling means 23 may comprise one or more hooks, protrusions or the like the like which will grab the skin at the side of the releasing device 5 facing away from the animal body, and pull this "belly side skin" towards the head end of the animal body in order to provide an improved space for moving the releasing units ahead of the hind legs as previously described.

It is understood that the pulling means 23 may however be omitted in embodiments of the invention, and that releasing units 8a, 8b, e.g. by means of hook shaped members 11a 1 lb may provide the pulling operation at the belly side skin to be arranged to be moved ahead of the hind legs by movement M2 as previously described. Fig. 13 illustrates an embodiment of the invention seen from the side, where the releasing units (8a, 8b) - only one is shown in fig. 13 - are arranged with an angle al in relation to the releasing device 5 and/or the guided part 16 so that the movement direction M2 when moving the releasing units 8a, 8b in ahead of the hind legs, inclines in a direction towards the head end 2a (not illustrated in fig. 13) of the animal body.

The angle al may preferably provide an acute angle al between the upwardly facing surface of the longitudinal guided part 12a and the movement plane PLl in which the releasing device and preferably also releasing units 8a, 8b are moved during the first and second releasing operations by movements Ml and M3. An obtuse angle is thus provided between the downwardly facing surface of the guided part 12a and the plane PLl is thus provided.

The angle al is preferably an acute angle al, preferably between 50° and 88° such as between 60° and 85°. The angle al may as illustrated measured at the upper surface of the guided part 12a, 12b and the side of the plane PLl facing away from the animal body.

The releasing units 12a, 12b may in embodiments of the invention be arranged with an angle a2 to incline in relation to horizontal, e.g. with an angle between 2° and 50° such as between 5° and 25° so that the end of the releasing device (preferably comprising a hook part) to be moved in ahead of the hind legs points downwards . This may however depend on the orientation of the plane PLl (which may preferably be substantially vertical). It is generally to be understood that in preferred embodiments of the invention the first releasing operation by movement Ml is provided in the downwards direction towards a floor/ the ground, and the second releasing operation is provided upwards away from the floor/ground.

Fig. 14 illustrates an embodiment of the apparatus seen from above, where the releasing units 8a, 8b are arranged with a mutual angle a3 so that the parts 11a, 1 lb of the releasing units 8a, 8b to be moved in ahead of the hind legs inclines towards each other.

The end of the releasing units 8a, 8b to be moved in ahead of the hind legs preferably inclines towards a vertical centre plane PL2. The planes PLl and PL2 are in embodiments of the invention substantially perpendicular. The guided parts 12a, 12b are arranged with a mutual angle a3, such as an angle between 3° and 110°, preferably between 5° and 90°, such as between 10° and 45°, preferably at least when arranged to move the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs. The angle a3 may preferably be provided by the guiding means 13a, 13b comprising a through hole for guiding the guided part 12a, 12b (see dashed lines in fig. 14) such as a rod of the releasing units 8a, 8b, and these through holes may be arranged with the angle a3. The guided part 12a, 12b of each releasing unit 8a, 8b is preferably, as illustrated arranged with an obtuse angle a4 between the longitudinal direction LD / movement direction M2 and the movement plane Ml of the releasing device 5. It is understood that the releasing units 8a, 8b may be arranged with both the angle al and the angle a3 as e.g. illustrated in the previous figures such as e. fig. 1 and several other figures.

However, it is also to be understood that the angle a3 in other embodiments of the invention may be omitted and that the releasing units 8a, 8b, may thus be arranged essentially parallel. Also, it is understood that in other embodiments of the invention, the releasing units 8a, 8b may be arranged substantially perpendicular to the plane PL1 , and thus the angle al may be around 90°

Fig. 15 illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the first releasing operation by the movement Ml may be provided by means of the releasing units 8a, 8b, and that these (or alternatively one of the releasing units which is however not shown in fig. 15), thus may provide the functionality of the releasing of the skin at the belly side of the animal body during the movement Ml from the rear end towards the head end of the animal body.

For that purpose, the releasing units 8a, 8b comprises a hook part 1 1a, l ib as previously explained. The tip end 19 of the hook parts are arranged to point towards each other during the first releasing operation, preferably to substantially abut, and the hook parts points towards the head end of the animal body. Accordingly, when moving the releasing units 8a, 8b in the first direction by the drive means 6, the releasing units will be moved in between the skin and the carcass at the belly side, and thus release the skin at the belly side. After this movement, the releasing units may be rotated by the moving means 17 or the like around their longitudinal direction LD 1 in order to arrange the hook parts at the position so that they can be moved in ahead of the hind legs and rotated to the releasing position RP at the back side between the skin and the carcass, before the movement as illustrated to the as illustrated in e.g. figs. 4-7. The rotation of the releasing units may generally be controlled by the control arrangement as previously described. At least the tip end 19 of the hook parts 11a, l ib are in fig. 15 arranged to point towards each other during the first releasing operation and towards the head end of the animal body, e.g. by rotation around the longitudinal direction LD1 to be near to each other to e.g. substantially abut, but more of the hook parts 11a, 1 lb may also in other embodiments of the invention be arranged close to each other,

The releasing units 8a, 8b thus in the embodiment described in fig. 15 provides the releasing device 5 for releasing the skin at the belly side by the first releasing operation as explained in relation to e.g. figs. 1-9, where the releasing device 5 is a member separate to the releasing units 5 a, 5b.

Fig. 15 moreover illustrates a further embodiment of the invention wherein the apparatus 1 comprises a counter-hold part 80 arranged to be moved in between the skin and the carcass at the belly side to provide a counter hold during the second movement M2 as explained above to arrange the releasing units 8a, 8b in ahead of the hind legs. The counter-hold part 80 is in the present embodiment is separate to the releasing units 8a, 8b, and is, the tip ends 19, arranged behind the tip ends 19. The counter hold part 80 is thus moved in between the skin and the carcass at the belly side in the space provided between the skin and the carcass by the tip ends 19 and hook parts 11 during or alternatively subsequent to the first releasing operation, before the movement M2 to arrange the releasing units in ahead of the hind legs is provided. Fig. 16a- 16b also illustrates an embodiment of the invention, wherein the releasing units may provide the releasing device 5. The apparatus 1 is seen from above, and the hook parts points downwards. The mutual angle a3 (see also fig. 14) between the releasing units 8a, 8b may be amended, e.g. so that the angle a3 is larger when providing the first releasing operation (see fig. 16b) by the hook part of the releasing units 8a, 8b. The angle a3 may then be reduced (see fig. 16a) by angle adjustment means / angle adjusters 90a, 90b for adjusting the angle a3 in order to provide a (larger) space between the hook parts 11a, 1 lb so that the releasing units 8a, 8b may be moved in ahead of the hind legs from the belly side before being adjusted to the releasing position as previously described. This angle adjustment may be provided while the hook parts 11a, l ib are arranged in between the skin and the carcass and the releasing device (provided by the hook part(s)) are in the second position POS2. at the belly side as previously described.

The angular adjustment may e.g. as illustrated be provided by arranging the guiding means 13a, 13b so they are movable/rotatable around an axis AX2 which may e.g. be parallel to the movement direction Ml, see previous figures such as fig. 1.

In embodiments of the invention, the releasing units 8a, 8b may be configured to be adjusted in the longitudinal direction LD1 dependent on the angular setting of the mutual angle a3.

The angle adjustment by the angle adjusters 90a, 90b may preferably be controlled by the control arrangement 10 as described previously, and the amount of angular displacement may e.g. be controlled by mechanical means /such as e.g. end stops or the like) and/or software settings in the control arrangement.

The counter-hold part 80 has been omitted from fig. 16a- 16b to provide a more simple drawing, but is naturally understood that a counter holding element 80 may also in embodiments of the invention be present e.g. as described and/or illustrated in relation to fig. 15.

In the present embodiment, the angle adjustment means 90a, 90b such as one or more linear actuators, a motor or the like is configured to displace a part of the support arms 24a, 24b so that they are rotated around the axes AX2, as the support arms 24a, 24b comprising the guiding means 13 a, 13b for guiding the guided part 12a, 12b of the releasing units may be connected to the guided element 16 by means of a hinge connection 91a, 91b providing the rotation axes AX2. This may naturally also be provided by one or more guiding trails in a guiding plate, or any other suitable setup for facilitating the amendment of the angle a3 in further embodiments of the invention. In general it is to be understood that in further embodiments of the invention, the releasing units 8a, 8b may be adjusted so that the tip end 19 of the hook part(s) 11a, l ib points towards each other by e.g. a rotation around the longitudinal direction LDl, e.g. by the rotation means as e.g. previously described, in combination with the angular amendment of the mutual angle a3 by the angle adjusters 90a, 90b.

Fig. 17a- 17b illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the apparatus a body holding arrangement 70 including a first holding arrangement 70a and a second holding arrangement 70b. The first and second body holding arrangements 70a, 70b each comprises one or more jaws/clamps 71a, 71b and are configured so that the second body holding arrangement 70b is controllable separate from the controlling of the first body holding arrangement 70b.

When the releasing device 5 is in the second position POS2 and thus extends in between the skin 3 and the carcass/body remains 4, and the releasing units 8a, 8b (or unit 8b if a configuration as illustrated e.g. in fig. 9 is utilized) points downwards towards the head end of the animal body, the second body holding arrangement 70b is arranged so that it is near the tip end 19 of the releasing unit(s) 8a, 8b, or so that the hook part 11a, 1 lb of the releasing unit(s) 8a, 8b extends in between the second body holding arrangement 70b e.g. as illustrated in fig. 17a.

The first body holding arrangement 70a is however arranged closer to the head end 2a of the animal body than the second body holding arrangement 70b, and is thus free from the hook part of the releasing units 11a, 1 lb and e.g. also the releasing device 5, thus enabling the first body holding arrangement 70a to clamp/hold the animal body 2. During the movement Ml to the second position POS2 without being in the way for the releasing device 5 and/or the releasing unit(s) 1 la, 1 lb. When the releasing device 5 and the releasing units 8a, 8b are arranged in the second position, and the releasing units 8a, 8b have been operated to the releasing position RP so that their hook part 11a, 1 lb at least partly extend at the back side of the animal body 2, the second holding arrangement 70b is activated to provide a further holding of the body, preferably by operating one or more clamps/jaws 71a, 71b of the second holding arrangement 70b towards each other to clamp the body 2.

The second holding arrangement 70b thus, preferably together with the first holding arrangement 70a clamps the body when the second releasing operation is initiated to provide a relative movement M3 (not illustrated in figs 17a- 17b) between the animal body 2 and the releasing units 8a, 8b in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body so that the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved in a direction away from the head end 2a of the animal body while the releasing units 8a, 8b are in the releasing position.

Generally, it is understood that the first and second holding arrangements 70a, 70b may be controlled substantially described in relation to e.g. fig. 2, and thus comprise Jaws/clamps 71a, 71b and (e.g. each their) operating unit for controlling the respective body holding arrangement. The controlling of the first and second holding arrangements 70a, 70b may e.g. be provided as described in relation to fig. 10 and/or 11.

However, in relation to fig. 11, a further, optional step (not illustrated) for activating the second body holding arrangement 70b may be provided after step S5 and before step S7 in embodiments of the invention.

Moreover, in relation to fig. 11, Step S8 may in embodiments of the invention be configured to release both the first and further holding arrangements 70a, 70b. However, in relation to fig. 11, a further step for activating the second body holding arrangement 70b may be provided after step S5.

The second holding arrangement 70b may in embodiments of the invention be activated to provide a holding of the body after the releasing device 5 is moved in a direction towards the rear end 2b of the animal body 2, and before the releasing unit(s) 8a, 8b is are moved M3 from the position in between the skin 3 and the carcass 4, towards the rear end 2b of the animal body. Preferably, the paws/hind legs are released before the movement of the releasing unit(s) towards the rear end 2b.

Fig. 18 a- 18b illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the releasing device 5 is configured to be moved by a movement M4 in a direction away from the head end 2a and towards the rear end 2b of the animal body 2 before the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved M3 from the position in between the skin 3 and the carcass 4, towards the rear end 2b of the animal body 2.

Accordingly, after the releasing units 8a, 8b have been arranged in the releasing position RP so that they at least partly extend at the back side of the animal body 2, see e.g. one or more of figs. 6-8 and/or fig. 9 and/or the related description thereto, the releasing device 5 is moved away from the head end of the animal body, relative to the releasing unit(s) which are in the releasing position RP, preferably so that the releasing device 5 will be substantially free from the rear end of the animal body, before the second releasing operation M3 is initiated to release the skin at the back part of the animal body.

In alternative embodiments of the invention, the releasing device 5 may not necessarily be moved M4 all the way to be substantially free from the animal body before the second releasing operation M3 is initiated. Instead, it may be sufficient that the releasing device 5 is only moved a part of the way, away from the head end 2a of the animal body so as to e.g. provide that a body holding arrangement may engage with the body without the releasing device 5 being in the way, for example as described in relation to figs 17a- 17b.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, the movement M4 of the releasing device 5 towards the rear end of the animal body before the second releasing operation M3 is initiated may e.g. be configured to have a length LT1 between 100 mm and 500 mm, preferably between 150 mm and 350 mm, such as between 190 mm and 300 mm, e.g. between 230 and 280 mm. The movement M4 may preferably be substantially linear.

It is however understood that the releasing device 5 and the releasing units 8a, 8b, may preferably be configured to be moved towards the head end 2a of the animal body, in the longitudinal direction LD of the animal body together with the releasing arrangement 5 during the first releasing operation Ml to place the releasing device at the belly side of the animal body, before the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved in ahead of the hind legs as previously described and explained in relation to e.g. one or more of figs. 1-4.

The apparatus as disclosed in figs. 18a- 18b preferably comprises two releasing units 8a, 8b each comprising a guided part 12a, 12b, wherein the guided part 12a, 12b is a longitudinal member such as a rod, and wherein the longitudinal member is configured to be displaced by moving means 17 in its longitudinal direction LD1 to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs as e.g. illustrated in figs. 4-5 and/or 13-16b in and/or described previously in relation to e.g. one or more of these figures.

In Figs. 19a- 19b illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the releasing device 5 is configured to be moved by a movement M4 in a direction away from the head end 2a in the longitudinal direction LD of the body 2, before the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved M3 from the position in between the skin 3 and the carcass 4, towards the rear end 2b of the animal body 2, so that the releasing units 8a, 8b leave the position between the skin and the carcass while releasing the skin from the carcass at a part of the back side, and preferably also the tail and the hind legs.

In this embodiment, the releasing device provides the Movement M4 before the movement M3, but the movement M3 provides both that the releasing device 5 and the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved together away from the head end 2a, preferably by means of the same movement arrangement, see e.g. fig. 22a-22b.

Fig. 20 illustrates an embodiment of the invention, where the releasing device 5 is moved downwards M5 to the first, initial position POS 1 after it has been moved away from the animal body by means of movement M3 and/or M4 to be ready for a new releasing operation at a new animal body 2.

Fig. 21 illustrates an embodiment of the invention, where the releasing units 8a, 8b are operated to point downwards again preferably in a direction towards the end edge 5 a to be ready for a new releasing operation at a new animal body 2 from the first position POS1.

Figs. 22a-22c illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the releasing device 5 is adapted to initiate a movement M4 in a direction upwards, away from the head end 2a (not illustrated), before the releasing units 8a, 8b are moved M3 from the position in between the skin 3 and the carcass 4, towards the rear end 2b of the animal body 2, so that the releasing units 8a, 8b leave the position between the skin and the carcass while releasing the skin from the carcass at a part of the back side, and preferably also the tail and the hind legs.

The apparatus 1 is seen from the side and e.g. holding arrangements 70 and/or 7a, 7b, and the animal body 2 are not illustrated in the figures to enhance the understanding of the figure. As can be seen in the figures, the releasing units 8a, 8b are arranged in the releasing position RP as e.g. previously described.

The releasing units 8a, 8b are configured to be displaced Ml, M3 while being guided by a first guided part 301 which is configured to be guided by a guiding part 300 by means of a substantially linear movement Ml, M3.

When displacing the first guided part 301 relative to the guiding part 300, e.g. by a linear movement Ml, M3, the releasing units 8a, 8b and the releasing device 5 are displaced together in the same direction, thereby e.g. providing the first releasing operation Ml and/or the second releasing operation M3 respectively, as e.g.

previously explained.

The releasing device 5 is movably connected by a connector 303 to the guided part 301. Thereby, the releasing device 5 is moreover configured to be moved, preferably linearly, upwards M4 (see e.g. fig. 19b) relative to the first guided part 301 and thus also relative to the releasing units 8a, 8b by means of a displacer 400 such as a linear actuator, a chain drive arrangement, a pulley arrangement, a toothed wheel solution, a rail arrangement and/or or the like. The displacer 400 may also be adapted to provide the Movement M5 as illustrated and described in relation to fig. 20.

Fig. 23 illustrates an embodiment of the invention, the apparatus comprises one or more releasing unit 8a, 8b which is/are adapted to be displaced M2 in a releasing unit displacement operation RUDO, M2 where the releasing unit or units 8a, 8b is/are displaced M2 in between the animal skin 3 and the carcass 4 ahead of hind legs 9a, 9b of the animal body 2 from the belly side of the animal body 2. The releasing units comprises guided parts 12a, 12b which are longitudinal members such as rods, and the longitudinal members are configured to be displaced by in their longitudinal direction LD1 to arrange the releasing units ahead of the hind legs by the movement M2, which preferably is a linear movement, but it may also in other embodiments comprise a curved movement. The releasing unit displacement operation RUDO, M2 is configured to be provided with different, predefined displacement lengths D2 which may be selected by a human operator, or automatically to fit the size of the animal body.

The movement M2 in the longitudinal direction of the guided parts 12a, 12b is accordingly adjustable to assure that the length of the movement D2 may fit the respective animal body. In preferred embodiments of the invention, as e.g. illustrated in fig. 24a-24c, the predefined displacement lengths D2 is configured to be controlled by one or more pre-set/pre-adjusted, controllable, mechanical blocking elements 501, 502.

The apparatus 1 may thus comprise blocking elements 501, 502 configured to prevent movement further M2 of the releasing device 8a in ahead of the hind leg (not illustrated in fig. 24a-c) by engaging with a stop part 503 such as a protrusion or a recess of the releasing unit 8a.

The first blocking element 502 is configured, when set to a blocking position BPS as illustrated in fig. 24b, to prevent further movement in ahead the hind legs, compared to the movement allowed by the second blocking element 501.

The blocking elements 501, 502 are thus positioned with a distance D3 to each other in the longitudinal direction LD1 of the guided part of the releasing unit 8a, and this distance D3 provides the predefined difference of the displacement lengths D2 which may be selected by a human operator, or be set automatically to fit the size/type of the animal body.

The human operator may actuate/operate a handle or the like in order to provide an adjustment of the movement length D2, which will be longer by deactivating the blocking element 502. In Fig. 24a, the releasing unit 8a is in a retracted position, e.g. corresponding to the position in which it will be before the releasing device 5 (not illustrated in figs 24a- 24c) is moved in between the skin and carcass at the belly side of the animal body.

In fig. 24b and 24c respectively, the length of the movement M2 is set to the predefined, different displacement lengths M2 by the blocking elements 501, 502 respectively. In the present example, the first blocking element 502, as illustrated in fig. 24b is activated by being moved to the blocking position BPS, thereby preventing a further movement of the releasing unit 8a in ahead of the hind legs.

As illustrated in fig. 24c, the first blocking element 502 is deactivated, thereby allowing a longer movement M2 of the releasing unit in ahead of the hind legs till the stop part 503 engages with the second blocking element 501.

In embodiments of the invention, the apparatus might comprise just one blocking element adapted to be moved into and away from a blocking position. The other blocking element may, which allows for the longest movement M2 might be substantially fixed so that it will substantially always be in a blocking position.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, The releasing unit displacement operation RUDO/M2 is arranged to be provided by means of a displacer/moving means 17 such as a linear actuator. It might preferably be a pneumatically controlled cylinder, but it might also be an electrically controlled, linear actuator, a spindle arrangement with a nut connected to a threaded spindle or the like.

In embodiments of the invention, the blocking elements 501, 502 may be adjustable in an adjustment direction AD substantially parallel to the movement direction M2 of the releasing unit(s) 8a, 8b. This is to provide the possibility of fine tuning the position of the blocking elements 501, 502 so that the respective position of the blocking elements 501, 502 in the movement direction M2 provides blocking of the movement M2 at the optimal position. This adjustment may be provided by a tool such as a screw driver, a spanner, a handle at the apparatus and/o the like (not illustrated) Generally, it is preferred that the releasing unit displacement operation M2 is configured to provide a displacement of the releasing unit 8a, 8b which is between 30 mm and 250 mm, preferably between 35 mm and 170 mm, such as between 40 mm and 150 mm. The different, predefined displacement lengths D2 are preferably controlled/set to be within one or more of these ranges.

The displacement lengths D2 may be selected based on e.g. the gender of the animal body, for example, a female mink body may be substantially smaller than a male body, thereby needing a shorter movement M2 of the releasing unit, and this, for female bodies the first blocking element 502 may be adjusted to the blocking position BPS for female bodies, while it may be deactivated when releasing skin of male bodies by the apparatus, to allow a longer, predefined movement M2 of the releasing unit 8a.

In other embodiments of the invention, which are not illustrated, the different, predefined displacement lengths may be configured to be selectable by means of an electronic user interface based on parameter settings defining the respective, pre-set length D2. The apparatus may in embodiments of the invention thus comprise a user interface controllable by a human operator to enable the human operator to select between said first and second parameter settings which may be pre-set software parameters. For example the predefined parameter settings may be are configured to be selected when selecting between predetermined profiles selectable by means of the user interface, e.g. by means of selecting between "male" or "female" by the user interface which may comprise a touch screen, one or more electrically wired buttons and/or the like. In general, it is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the particular examples described above but may be adapted in a multitude of varieties within the scope of the invention as specified in e.g. the claims.

References

1 : Apparatus

2 : Animal body

2a : Head end of animal body

2b : Rear end of animal body

2c : Tail of animal body

3 : Skin of animal body

4 : Carcass of animal body

5 : Releasing device

5a : End edge of releasing device

5b, 5c : Side edges of releasing device

5d : Front surface/side of releasing device

5e : Back side of releasing device

6 : Drive means

7a, 7b : Jaws of holding arrangement

8 a, 8b : Releasing units

9a, 9b : Hind legs of animal body

10 : Control arrangement

10a : Input/output arrangement

10b : Control unit

10c : Data storage

1 la, 1 lb : Hook part of releasing unit(s)

12a, 12b : Guided parts of releasing units

13 a, 13b : Guiding means

14 : Frame

15 : Guiding element

16 : Guided element

17 : Moving means for operating releasing units in the longitudinal direction

LD1 of guided part of releasing unit

18 : Opening at rear end 2b of animal body

19 : Tip end of hook part 20a, 20b : Front legs

21 : Belly side of animal body

22 : Back side of animal body

23 : Pulling means for pulling belly skin during first releasing operation 24a, 24b support arms extending from the guided element 16

25 : Spacer connecting releasing device and guided element

26 : Bend at releasing unit providing hook part 11a, 1 lb

30 : Rotation means for rotating releasing units

41a, 41b, : Displacement means of holding arrangement

42a, 42b, : Jaw control means for controlling holding arrangement

50a, 50b : Paw cutting arrangement

51 : Paw cutting device of paw cutting arrangement

52a, 52b : Cutting device controllers

60 : Cutting unit for providing opening 18

70 : Body holding means

71 a, 7 lb : Jaws/clamps of body holding arrangement

72 : Operating unit for controlling body holding arrangement

80 : Counter hold part

90a, 90b : angle adjustment arrangement for adjusting angle a3

91a, 91b : Hinge connection

400 : Displacer for moving releasing device relative to releasing unit(s) and/or guiding part

300 : Guiding part

301 : Guided part

303 : Movable connector which connects releasing device 5 to guided part

301

501, : second mechanical blocking element

502 : first mechanical blocking element

503 : stop part for engaging with the mechanical blocking element