Pig health care systems

I had planned to write this blog last Friday but I ended up spending the majority of the afternoon at the doctor’s office with my handicapped daughter. While waiting to be called in to see the doctor I got to thinking about the access to medical care we have in the US even if it is expensive for those with limited options for health insurance.

While not talked about much, the level of health care we give our pigs has improved greatly over the years, just as human medical practices and opportunities have improved. I think back to my early days at the University of Nebraska when my research emphasis was on starting co-mingled feeder pigs. These pigs arrived from unknown sources with unknown health status or age. We priced the pigs based on weight but didn’t know anything about ages associated with the weight. Health problems were many and we often reacted to problems, rather than prevented them.

Contrast that with today’s health discussions. If SEW’s are purchased from an unknown source, we insist on a vet-to-vet consultation so we have the correct health care plan in place. This plan may involve vaccines and/or feed and water medications if they are arriving with a known problem.

While each practicing swine veterinarian oversees many more pigs than in the past, we now routinely use all-in/all-out pig flows and most often have knowledge of the herd health of the source herd. Field staff for production systems are trained on disease surveillance and we routinely now collect oral fluid samples as a way to quickly assess herd health.

Yes we have new health challenges versus the old days with many of these challenges population based. However, we now talk eradication from a site, versus disease management at a site.

It may not seem like it some days but our pigs today are generally grown to slaughter under very good health management systems that rank at the top of any in the world.

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