Watching pigs may not be glamorous or stimulating, but it’s a responsibility that Bob Blomme, DVM, takes very seriously.
“We can learn a lot just by spending time in the barns observing the pigs,” says the veterinarian at AMVC Veterinary Services, Audubon, Iowa
He concedes that walking into a barn of 16 pens of 75 to 100 pigs each can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t take much time or effort to recognize the ones that need extra care, he told Pig Health Today.
“If he catches your attention, if something’s not right, if that pig lays down quickly when all others are milling about…don’t try to ‘look him well’,” he says, implying that hope is not an option.
“If he catches your eye, he caught your eye for a reason: hair coat, posture, motility, whatever,” he added.
The next step is to do something about it — specifically, pull those pigs immediately move them to a fallout pen where they can get the treatment and rest they need to recover.
“Sometimes that pig just needs a place where he can compete,” Blomme explained. “It’s kind of like that PE (physical education) class where you have the ninth-grade boy who weighs 115 pounds in class with the senior football boys and they’re going to play dodgeball. That kid just can’t compete.”
The sick pig faces the same challenge.
“He’s at a real disadvantage. They never get good rest. They’re always getting picked on, bullied. I’m a big advocate that you have to have a place for that pig to recover. We’ve got to get them with contemporaries where they can compete again. We’re trying to stack the deck in his favor as best we can.”