Better yourself through learning

The more I learn, the more I discover that I didn’t know.

I am not alone. Ignorance is rampant, it’s everywhere. I was at Zinpro’s FeetFirst Swine Symposium last week, absorbing technical presentations on everything from gilt selection to pig hoof health to nutrition’s impact on all of the above.

Some of the research presented was a refresher for me, but there was so much that had never fallen on my ears before. The more I tried to absorb, the more seemingly was seeping out of my cranium. Sure the digital recorder was capturing all that pen and paper could not catch up to, but there was just so much information to take in.

This admission of ignorance is not admitting a weakness. I’m actually stealing a line from Zinpro’s Russ Wyllie, vice president of sales in the Americas, as he closed the symposium with the same admission.

He is correct in saying that ignorance is rampant, it’s everywhere. Ignorance does not have to be a bad thing or a weakness. How you handle that ignorance can set you apart. If you are ignorant, but choose to play Pokémon GO all day, ignorant you shall remain.

But if you are ignorant, and choose to improve yourself by learning something about your profession or an interest that you may have, you are bettering yourself and the world around you.

Next week will present another opportunity to once again prove how ignorant that I am. The program of the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in St. Paul, Minn., offers discussions of everything from research quality assurance to next generation sequencing for swine diagnostics to the new era of managing antimicrobial use. (On a side note, be sure to follow live Tweets by Cheryl Day and myself from the Leman Conference by looking for the #lemanswine tag.)

Hog producers have many opportunities to prove how ignorant they are, by taking steps to self-improvement. Take the time to learn something new, or learn a new twist on something that you thought you already knew. The first step is knowing what you don’t know; proudly grasping that, and doing something about it.

A recent news item presented information that I thought should be common knowledge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stressed that people should not kiss chickens. Yes, you read that correctly. The CDC says that salmonella can be spread to humans through direct and indirect contact with an animal, in this case particularly chickens. I love animals, but we all have our place on this earth, and I’ve never been one to have one in my face, unless it is being put there on the end of a fork.

Even without a CDC warning I have always shied away from, even cringed at, kissing a pig or allowing a dog to lick may face. I grew up with farm dogs, and having seen what they eat, I am satisfied with a simple handshake when I greet them. I raised pigs on outside lots and in confinement, and I’m sorry but I’m not kissing either end of a pig. Maybe I need to learn more about the cleanliness of a pig’s snout or a dog’s mouth.

Nah, I plead ignorance in this case, and I’m comfortable staying that way.

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