Another key species in the farming industry, and increasingly popular amongst hobby farmers, is the humble pig. In July 2014 I spent two weeks working with these wonderfully intelligent animals on a 100 breeding sow farm in Kent.
The farm I worked on used Pietrain boars (a double-muscled breed) bred with a variety of sows including: Tamworth, Large Whites, Saddlebacks and Kunekunes, resulting in minimal parturition problems and producing piglets with good conformation for market. All pigs were kept in well ventilated barns with deep bedding, plastic pots and rubber wellies to entertain themselves with (which prevented tail biting) and were farrowed without the use of crates, all with the pigs’ welfare in mind!
During my time working on this farm, I gained knowledge of both normal and abnormal pig behaviours as well as vital handling skills. I was able to observe a variety of common ailments affecting the pigs including umbilical and inguinal hernias, scours and Erysipelas, as well as how to deal with each of these problems.
I learnt how to perform iron injections and castration of piglets in the safest and quickest way possible, as well as why these procedures may be important in some farming situations.
These experiences all came in useful at university where I spent an additional six weeks with farm vets learning about production systems, fertility, farm management, infectious disease, biosecurity and herd health as well as getting hands on with production animal health and medical treatments for a range of large animal species.
If you have any questions about my experience working with pigs, please get in touch.
Many thanks to Ben and the team for having me!