I'm ready to delve into week two of Holly Spangler's 30-day blogging challenge and this time I am going to wade a little deeper into a pool of controversial water. Thank goodness I was thankful last week for insulated rubber boots, because I might need them this week.
We are a farrow-to-finish hog operation, mostly confinement with just a few sows on outdoor lots. I often wish that all our sows were inside, for their comfort and care. I believe modern hog production works and here are seven reasons why.
1. Gestation Stalls: Stalls provide an individual environment for every animal, improving health and nutrition. They also reduce injury that occurs in group housing.
2. Farrowing Crates: Crates allow farrowing sow a safe place to give birth, reduce crushing of newborn pigs, and still allow access between sows and piglets. They also help to eliminate injury to caretakers attending to the needs of the animal when in distress or in need of medical attention.
3. Antibiotics in Feed: Antibiotics allow growers to target use by need due to herd history. They also promote a healthy gut for digestion.
4. The Slap Shot: It's an ingenious tool; a clear flexible tubing that is designed to facilitate easier administration of injectable medicines and vaccines, as well as less needle damage. This tool reduces stress and pain for the animal during administration.
5. Confinement Barns: While a hog peacefully grazing clover on a 70-degree day in June might seem dandy, we have to care for hundreds/thousands of animals twelve months out of the year. That includes when it rains for three straight weeks, freezes and thaws, snows, or is 105 degrees. The clover field doesn't cut it then. Barns protect animals from their manure, regulate their environment, protect them from harsh weather and predators and improve the ability of growers to care for the animals.
6. Artificial Insemination: AI allows control of insemination, quality of service and the number of services required along with timing. It allows greater access to superior genetics.
7. Bacon: Because bacon is awesome and readily available thanks to modern hog production.
Until next week, be thankful and be careful.
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.