Author Archives: Kendra

Keeping It Clean

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by Kendra

When you have livestock, you’re bound to have manure – or with any animal for that matter! Because we keep all our pigs indoors, it means that they also defecate indoors; and as you can imagine, that means work for us!

 

In our farrowing rooms, all our sows are kept in farrowing crates (I will talk more about these in the future!), which have a slated floor (meaning the floor has narrow holes in it – similar to a concrete grate you might see on a city sidewalk). The slated floor allows the manure to drop between the slates and into themanure pit beneath the barn. The slates keep the farrowing crates free of manure, and much cleaner for the sow and her piglets.

However, before the pregnant sow even enters the farrowing rooms, the crates and entire room must be washed and sanitized completely. Washing and sanitizing properly is extremely important to reduce the risk of spreading any diseases or bugs that may have been in the room. Think about it like going to a hotel; after someone’s stay is over, the towels and bed sheets are replaced. Essential, that is what we are doing. We are cleaning and disinfecting the farrowing crate for the new sow, just like the hotel staff would have done for you!

To wash and disinfect the farrowing rooms, we use a high powered pressure washer, much like one you may use for washing your vehicle with – but much stronger! The pressure washer allows us to get off all the dust and manure as quickly and easily as possible. While washing, we are sure to wash the top, bottom, sides, floor, walls, feed trough, and every little inch of each farrowing crate! It is essential to be very thorough, otherwise you run the risk of the sow or piglets getting sick with something that the sow or piglets who had previously been in that crate had. One good example of this is a case of scours (diarrhea). If a litter of piglets has scours, and the crate is not properly cleaned and sanitized, the next litter of piglets that areborn in that crate will likely get scours; the cleaner, the better!

Pigs are clean animals, much to the contraire of what most people think, and we do our best to ensure that they are kept that way. A clean crate to farrow in and a clean trough to eat and drink out of are extremely important – it’s our job to make sure each sow’s need for a clean environment is met.

 

 

You have to shower BEFORE going into the barn?

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 by Kendra

When you walk into a hospital, the first thing you do is wipe your hands down with hand sanitizer, right? Well, essentially, that’s biosecurity.

The reason you use hand sanitizer when you go into a hospital, is so you don’t bring in new bugs into the hospital. As pig farmers, we take the same sort of steps to insure that our pigs stay healthy and no new bugs or illnesses are brought into the barn.

Most pig farms require that you shower in before entering the barn. By removing all outside clothing, showering and putting on clothes that do not leave the barn, means that the chance that new bugs or diseases will enter the barn is low. It’s very important that anyone entering the barn shower and change into barn clothes, whether they have been around pigs before or not.

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Another step in our biosecurity protocols is that all vehicles must park at least 15 feet from the perimeter of the barn. This also helps keep any bugs or dirt that may have been picked up by tires on the roadway, away from the barn. Vehicles that have been to another pig barn are recommended to be washed prior to visiting just as an added step of protection.

One last very important step that all visitors must take, is signing into the barn and guaranteeing they have not been around any other pigs within the past 48hours. By waiting 48 hours, it ensures that any bugs you may have brought from another barn are no longer lingering on your skin. It’s also very important that you do not wear any clothes that you may have worn to another barn.

Besides all the steps that we as people take to ensure proper biosecurity in the barn, we also need to worry about what animals & rodents are bringing into the barn! No cats or dogs are allowed in the barn, because unlike people, they do not follow all our biosecurity protocols each time they enter the barn! We set and bait rodent traps on a regular basis, as rodents are a major carrier of disease (no one said they couldn’t go in that pig barn down the road this morning before coming to visit us!).

By having such strict biosecurity, we as pig farmers can be sure that we keep the pigs as healthy as possible. No farmer likes to give their animals medication, and the best way to keep from doing that is preventing illness in the barn in the first place. Prevention is key to healthy animals! Even with such strict biosecurity, most pig farms welcome visitors, so long as you follow all biosecurity protocols. 

Pick on Someone Your Own Size!

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 by Kendra

When sows farrow (give birth), they have a litter of piglets – sometimes up to 20+! Out of those piglets, most will be about the same size; but that’s not always the case.

Most sows have 14 teats, which means they can nurse up to 14 piglets comfortably. So what do we do with the rest of the piglets? We cross-foster!

 

Cross-fostering (which I will, from here on out, refer to as just fostering) means that we will take piglets off of a sow if she has more than 14, or give a sow a couple piglets if her own litter was less than 14 piglets. We also ensure that all piglets in a litter are the same size, giving each piglet a fair chance at nursing (drinking the sow’s milk)! If there is a tiny little piglet in a litter of larger piglets, we will swap the small one with a larger piglet. This way we will have litters of 14 small piglets, and 14 large piglets – this way, they pick on someone their own size!

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Getting piglets fostered is a very essential task, and needs to be done soon after the piglets have been born and have begun nursing. Pigs are smart animals, within 72 hours of being born each piglet will have chosen a teat to nurse on and it will only nurse on that teat! For this reason, it’s very important to foster piglets as soon as possible. Stay tuned to learn more about farrowing sows and their piglets, & of course all the cute piglet pictures!