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Equip your herd health arsenal toolbox

Jobs are easier to accomplish when you have the right tools, but it is not always practical to own the tools. Sometimes you need to know who to borrow them from.

I work with my hands, but that does not make me a handyman. Being able to rap away on a computer keyboard forming words and piecing together those words into coherent thoughts, is far different than being able to build, fix or repair anything and everything in a household or on a farm.

I will be the first to admit to that, followed closely by my wife.

We will both admit, though, that I am getting better at tackling jobs and tasks that five to 10 years ago would have not been in my wheelhouse. What has changed? I have not enrolled in adult industrial arts classes. Nor have I switched brains with the team from “This Old House.” What I have done is surrounded myself with good tutors, and I have gained access (either by purchase or by mooching) to better tools.

Yes, it is important to have knowledge of how to do things but having access to the proper tools is essential. I could still write articles for your reading and education enjoyment if I used a manual typewriter, or even one of the early computers, but the job is so much easier with the advent of today’s computers. Though some advancements create more headaches, I can’t even imagine trying to do my job without email and even texting.

When I started in this field decades ago, I couldn’t have dreamt that I would be able to send an article for review through some magical clicks of buttons for the recipients to call up that article on their computer hundreds of miles away in mere seconds.

The right tools have made our jobs a lot easier.

Technological advancements have not been lost on today’s U.S. hog producer. Raising hogs is still hard work, but the job is a lot easier with automatic feeding systems, barn cameras and sensors of all sorts to alert us if something is wrong.

Vaccines and other health maintenance tools have aided us to keep our herd as healthy as possible. Experience and observation are also great tools at the disposal of producers, when a walk through the barn can tip you off to a potential health issue before you even hear a cough or see a loose stool.

Sometimes you have to look outside of your own toolbox to find the best tools available for your farm. I cannot justify purchasing an electric miter saw for a small home project, but I know a neighbor who allows me to mooch off of his tool supply.

Sometimes knowing where to turn to find the right tools, or to find the person or entity with the right tools is as valuable as buying the tool for your own use. Pork producers are good at knowing that something is not right with their herd, but they don’t know exactly what is wrong. That is where veterinary diagnostic laboratories come in.

Even the experts continue to improve their tools and their toolboxes, enabling them to face and conquer the latest issues and problems that producers throw their way. One such example is the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory. There are times when new tools that will enable the job to be done more efficiently are required or desired, and maybe even a new toolbox is required. That is the case in Brookings, S.D., where the state’s ADRDL has been on the campus of South Dakota State University for some time.

Back in September, the university and South Dakota’s livestock industry celebrated the near-completion of the $58.6 million expansion and renovation.

This expanded “toolbox” will open officially sometime next month (look to our website for further details), and with it will bring livestock producers from the Midwest a greater tool in their herd health arsenal.

You can’t afford to have all the tools in your own toolbox, but it’s good to know who has the proper tool for the job.

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