This past week I did 2 radio interviews about the impact of the PED virus on the swine industry. While much has been written about the tremendous numbers of pig deaths when it strikes a farrowing site, little has been written about the impact on the people working at a unit when the virus hits.
The pork industry hires people for their skills in keeping pigs alive. We reward employees at farrowing sites for these skills and provide them with tools and skills to save challenged pigs. It is really hard on these employees when the PED virus hits their unit.
Imagine being such an employee and when the virus hits being told to expect to not be able to save any newborn pigs for approximately 3 weeks. In spite of your best efforts there is nothing we can give you as a tool that will help you prevent the newborn pigs from getting the virus and dying within a few days of birth. You will spend you days during this period watching healthy pigs being born, watching the pigs get the virus and watching the pigs scour and die.
The only good news – once the sows develop immunity as a result of the feedback programs currently being used in the face of an outbreak you will see pigs survive the challenge at birth and survive and thrive.
However, it is a long and extremely frustrating 3 week or so time period for people who really care about the well being of the pigs under their direct care. Until we figure out either a vaccine or effective newborn interventions this frustration will continue.