Friday, December 5, 2014

In For A "Treat"! Antibiotics on the Farm

Three weeks ago I came down with an awful cough and chest congestion.  I “stuck it out” for just about as long as I could stretch it but finally broke down and went to the doctor late on a Thursday afternoon.  It turns out there was some fluid building up in my lungs and I was put on an antibiotic (that I should have been on three days before if I wasn’t so stubborn.)  By Friday night I could breathe again, the pain of coughing was gone, and I was able to get some decent sleep.  I’m sure this story isn’t much different from anyone else’s early wintertime woes.  

Our vet and I share a selfie in the pig barns
So let’s turn the tide and apply this story to the pigs on our farm. The big difference in between the farm and the people situation is that we do not allow that animal to “stick it out” to see if it will get better.  We want to keep that animal comfortable and healthy and not allow it to develop into a more painful problem (much like I foolishly did).  If an animal on our farm shows signs of becoming ill we do exactly the same as we would do for ourselves, but rather than calling a doctor we consult our veterinarian.  Our veterinarian is an extremely important part of our farm and really is like a part of the family!  He is the one person that we can call on at any time of the day, on any day of the week, with questions about the health of our herd.  We work with him so closely that at times I think I talk to him more than I talk to my own family members!  

An "Animal Treatment Card" 
Once the health issue with a pig is discussed, our veterinarian prescribes the proper course of antibiotic to be used.  After we administer the medicine to the animal, that animal is then identified individually with a special marking.  In the sow farm, we also use “treatment cards”.  These are special cards that are placed with a sow once she has been treated with something that describes several things for us.   We are able to keep track of the animals treated and make it simple for everyone on the farm to identify them.  On the card we record the type of product used, the amount administered, the route we gave it to her (intramuscular, subcutaneous, orally, etc.), the date it was given, and the proper withdrawal date for that particular product according to the date it was given.  This card then stays with the animal until that withdrawal date is met.  This way of recording treatments is and extremely effective way for us to treat and monitor each animal on an individual basis.   Remember that all animals that are sold to the packer must have all proper withdrawal dates met.  

It is important to remember that pigs get sick just like you or I might get sick.  We as farmers are committed to being outstanding animal caretakers as well as being responsible with the tools that we use to raise a healthy pig on our farm.

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