Group of pigs in a pen, one looking up Getty Images/Carsten Koall

2 opportunities to improve pig care

Ionophores in hog production and pig welfare are hot topics of upcoming webinar and symposium.

I’m sorry pork producers, but I ran “afowl” the other night. I strayed from my red meat intake, and grilled up some large chicken breasts. Please forgive me, for I have sinned.

As I transferred these boneless, skinless chicken breasts from packaging to grill, I made note of an info-burst on the package touting that these were produced with “no antibiotics ever.” As consumer demand continues to tell livestock producers how to raise our livestock, how long will it be before pork products will all be emblazoned with the same claims: “These pork chops produced with no antibiotics ever”?

Pork producers are too responsible to flip the switch to start raising all hogs with “no antibiotics ever,” to sacrifice the welfare and health of animals that need a little boost to help them recover from a health issue.

Great minds in the swine health world are seeking alternatives that may be able to replace antibiotics in the producer toolbox, and no medicinal stone is being left unturned — probiotics, prebiotics, herbal extracts, acidifiers, etc.

Poultry producers have been able to escape the anti-antibiotic terrorists through the use of ionophores — a class of antibiotics that are not considered to be medically important to human medicine.

Are ionophores a silver bullet for pig farmers in their search for antibiotics replacements? Great minds are investigating just that. Our sister publication Feedstuffs is hosting “Ionophores — Innovation for a Productive Future,” a free webinar on July 27 that is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health.      

Finer details of the hour-long webinar are still being finalized, but register now to get the latest information on how ionophores may work into your hog operation.

Probiotics, prebiotics, ionophores and judicious use of antibiotics can all be important tools for pork producers to have at their disposal, with the main focus of animal health and animal welfare top of mind. The National Pork Board has announced the first ever Pig Welfare Symposium to be held Nov. 7-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.

“The symposium provides a forum for sharing ideas, learning from other segments of the industry and fostering dialogue on pig welfare-related issues,” Sherrie Webb, director of animal welfare for the Pork Checkoff, says in an NPB press release. “We hope that a broad spectrum of people will attend, including producers, veterinarians, academia, packers and processors and allied industry partners.”

The symposium is designed to help improve the well-being of pigs by disseminating recent research findings and recommendations, raising awareness of current and emerging issues and identifying potential solutions.

An early bird discount is available for producers if they register by Aug. 1

In the words of Paul Ayers, chair of the Checkoff’s Animal Welfare Committee and manager of Animal Care at The Maschhoffs, “If you want to know about the current challenges related to pig welfare and what’s on the horizon, then the Pig Welfare Symposium is for you.”

Both of these events should be worth their weight in gold to keep hog producers on top of the latest developments on the animal health and welfare scenes. Sign up now so you don’t get left behind.

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