Vets Ensure Extra Layer of Responsible Animal Care

February 13, 2017

vet with pigs

In my experience as a veterinarian, farmers want consumers to have confidence that the food they raise is safe. It’s a fair expectation to have farm animals well cared for and raised in a responsible, ethical way and one I take seriously. Meeting that expectation starts with a close working relationship with the farm family we’re helping.

I’m a member of a six-vet team that helps farmers care for sows (momma pigs) on 15 farms across Illinois. We fill a lot of roles, including monitoring overall health, helping farms hire and train employees and working with farms on welfare questions.

 

Keeping a clean house means healthy pigs

I think the term “factory farm” has created this perception that animals are just being raised – hold the “responsibly.” People might think barns are overcrowded and dirty, leading to illness and disease.

Most people would likely be surprised by the conditions and layers of biosecurity that ensure animals stay healthy and safe. Much like a medical doctor that scrubs before surgery, there’s a process for entering one of our client’s sow farms to reduce the chance of me bringing in anything that could affect the animals’ health.

  • I sign in on a visitor log that tracks who comes in and out of the barn each day.
  • After spraying sanitizer on my hands, I sit at a bench in an area similar to a locker room and take my shoes off.
  • Then, I swing my legs over to the other side of the bench.
  • Some farms have a “shower-in, shower-out” policy, so I’ll take a quick shower and then change into clothes and shoes provided by the farm.
Inside the barn, there are even more layers of protection. Barns are washed and cleaned frequently. Farmers treat these animals’ homes like their own house. We work together to keep pigs healthy right from the start, because caring for sick pigs costs more for farmers and ultimately consumers. And, just like you, I want to keep pork affordable, too.

 

Wesley Lyons, DVM

Dr. Wesley Lyons is currently a veterinarian at Bethany Swine Health Services in Sycamore, IL. He started in mixed animal practice for a few months with his father, Dr. Chuck Lyons, before joining Pig Improvement Company as a Health Assurance Veterinarian.

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