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August 7, 2013

It's Because We Aren't Lazy

There is a lot of controversy these days about livestock care and products we use to maintain and improve their health-one of the tools we use to keep a healthy herd is vaccination.

Yesterday, the last day of summer for my kids, was spent with friends swimming and hanging out for several hours but before they could call it a day they spent 2 hours working nursery pigs with me-then they were allowed to sit down, eat supper, get stuff ready for the first day of school and call it a day.

In January when our vet was here doing a routine herd health visit we discussed some concerns with the health of our finishing hogs-specifically the possibilities of them getting pneumonia, circovirus and the flu.  Three of the more common illnesses that can obviously be devastating to the health of the animal but economically devastating to our farm as well.  Dr Powers suggested a vaccination program involving 2 doses of Red Triangle.

Red Triangle is blend of three vaccines-so that each pig only receives one shot per round instead of three separate shots to be protected from each of these illnesses-pneumonia, circovirus and flu.

We give Red Triangle to each hog twice- once at weaning, when the piglets are four weeks old and then they receive a booster 2 weeks later, at six weeks of age.  Each shot is 2cc's.






Now these three vaccines are not anti-biotics but the goal here is to prevent the hogs from needing anti-biotics in the future.  Now that is not to say that that means we don't use anti-biotics because have no doubt if our hogs get sick and anti-biotics are what they need for their health you better bet we will use them and wouldn't think twice about it.  What happens to an animal being raised antibiotic free when it gets ill? Our antibiotic use is targeted to specific growth stages of the animal by recommendation of our veterinarian targeting specific health challenges.  Anti-biotics for livestock is an expense that  unless deemed necessary for the health of the animal or the herd is not something farmers dole out like candy.

We carefully monitor withdrawal periods on this farm with all drugs that we use - not only because it is the law but for the safety of the US food supply (because farmers and their family's eat this food as well) and because it is financially and socially responsible for our farm to maintain our credibility as a producer.

A herd health program has many elements; prevention, sanitation, security, treatment. But still we cannot get away from stockmanship. Livestock cannot tell you that they are ill. One must learn to observe the animals behavior to identify which ones are sick, and need treatment. The caretaker element is essential.

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