Health, Health, Health

By: Ryan Sites, National Swine Specialist

February 2022

When we think about an animal’s performance, growth and overall development, we need to always think about health first and foremost. One of the first times we see projects struggle or have any health issues is when we first purchase the animal and move them to their new home. This is caused not only by a change in temperature and environment but can also be from co-mingling livestock from different farms.

This first transition in the animal’s life is a crucial time, and we must be very attentive, checking on these projects at least twice a day to see whether they are eating feed and drinking water and if there are signs of a cough, runny nose, loose stool or any kind of swelling in joints. All these listed can be indications of sickness or stress that we need to monitor closely. We always recommend hand feeding for at least the first couple of weeks so you can tell how much feed is being consumed at each feeding. Other factors to consider when we think about the health and well-being of your project are to start a de-worming schedule and look for other parasites like lice and mange. Even these can cause enough skin irritation and discomfort to slow down the growth and performance of a project.

When it comes to doctoring or administrating medicine, first and foremost, contact your veterinarian and find out the suggested medication and the correct dosage. Your veterinarian may also recommend a vaccination schedule as a precaution as you bring in projects from different farms and even different states. Another useful tool to have handy or in the barn is Show-Rite® Exhale. This product works great to open airways if the pig is having difficulty breathing or struggling with respiratory challenges. It can also be used when you start exercising to enable the animal to breathe easier and perform with greater stamina and endurance.

In today’s very competitive show ring, you must keep your projects healthy and catch sickness and illness as early as possible. Do not wait and see if he is still coughing, limping or scouring tomorrow; be proactive and help those projects out as soon as possible. It is also very important to have a good relationship with a veterinarian so you can discuss and diagnose any health concerns quickly and remedy the problem as soon as possible. For you moms and dads out there, as we think about our projects, simply relate them to our own kids. Do not wait and see how they are feeling in a few days; help them as soon as possible. Finally, when we think about our projects, simply treat them like family and train them like athletes.