"I'm proud to be in the food business in the U.S.," says veterinarian Dr. Matthew Turner in this Vets On Call story as he examines a herd of 8,000 pigs on a livestock farm in North Carolina. Dr. Turner demonstrates the farm's approach to keeping the pigs healthy, explaining that like in humans, a vaccine is the preferred treatment to prevent pigs from getting sick. "Our goal is to not use any antibiotics at all. If we do have to use antibiotics to treat pigs that become sick, we have stringent guidelines. The food that leaves here is very safe."
Matt has cared for pigs his whole life, beginning as a child on his family's farm. He wanted to be a veterinarian since grade school and worked toward that goal, earning his veterinary degree from North Carolina State University.
At this farm he walks through the barns checking the herd starting with piglets being weaned from their mothers, and finds some young pigs with a fever and diarrhea. To prevent them from suffering from dehydration or a more severe, possibly terminal condition, he treats them with an antibiotic, adding, "We treat individual pigs who are sick to reduce the bacteria from spreading to their pen mates."
He asserts that all the farms where he works are vigilant about following FDA-required "withdrawal times" which is the amount of time it takes after treatment with a medicine before a pig is allowed to be sent to market and the meat is pure again to be consumed.
"I'm involved in feeding people throughout the state, the country and the world," says Dr. Turner, "Being part of the food business in the U.S. is an important job."
Veterinarians On Call is presented by Zoetis.