It’s winter time and it’s cold outside! This isn’t my favorite time of the year, I don’t like being cold. Farmers who care for livestock normally spend quite a bit of time in the cold weather. You might be saying, “wait, I thought your pigs lived inside warm barns?” They do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have work to do outside when caring for the pigs.
For instance, on our farm, every time we haul pigs in the trailer, we have to wash, sanitize and dry the trailer before it can haul more pigs. My dad hauls the weaned pigs for us, he takes the pigs to the nursery barns. One of his most important jobs is making sure he keeps the trailer clean and dry. If he doesn’t, we could track germs into our herd and it could cause the pigs to get sick. My dad takes this very seriously, he doesn’t want to be the reason our pigs get sick. When he is finished with the trailer it will be clean enough you could eat a meal off of it!
Each weaning day, my dad will bed down the trailer with wood chips. Before he steps inside the trailer he puts on clean boots. These boots can never touch the ground so he has to be very careful that once the boot is on, he only steps inside the trailer. Luckily dad has pretty good balance. Once he has the trailer bedded, they begin to load pigs on the trailer. Dad counts each pig as it comes on the trailer. When the last pig is on, dad has to change his boots again so his clean boots don’t touch the ground. He then takes the pigs to the nursery where he once again changes his boots again, making sure the boots never touch the ground. Once this is done he begins to unload the pigs. Once he is done counting each pig as it leaves the trailer, he has to complete some paper work for me. That’s the easy part of his job. After the paperwork is complete, his fun really begins.
It doesn’t matter how cold or hot it is outside, the trailer always has to be washed after hauling pigs. There is no exception to this rule, ever! Dad will scoop up the wood chips and put them in a composting pile. Next he floods the trailer with water to loosen up anything that may be stuck down on the trailer. Then the power washing begins, inside the trailer and outside of the trailer, from top to bottom. The truck even gets washed. Once the trailer is clean, he has to rinse the trailer again with sanitizer from top to bottom. He even sanitizes the wheels. Next we park the trailer in an enclosed shed so birds, cats and wildlife don’t track inside of the trailer. He then turns a heater on inside of the trailer to help dry the trailer out. Now the trailer is ready for the next delivery of pigs to be loaded up!
This may seem extreme to some people but we want to make sure we never track germs to our hogs or our hog barns; we don’t want to make our livestock sick. On our farm, we focus on prevention; we want to prevent problems from occurring. By preventing the spread of germs, we are able to help ensure our pigs and hogs don’t get sick. Healthy animals produce healthy food!
This prevention plan is another reason we all change our clothes and shoes once we get inside of our barns, we don’t want to track any germs into our hogs. This is also another reason we don’t allow lots of people to go inside of our barns. By preventing germs being spread, we are able to keep our hogs healthy. This prevention plan has helped us reduce the amount of medication we use on our farm. We use less medication today now that our hogs are housed in barns than we did when our hogs were housed outside on dirt lots. Thirty years ago we didn’t go to such great lengths to prevent the spread of germs. This is just one example of how much thought goes into caring for our pigs and hogs.