Six Ways We Ensure the Individual Health and Safety of Every Piglet - Food Dialogues

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Six Ways We Ensure the Individual Health and Safety of Every Piglet

As a millennial who pursued a journalism undergraduate degree and a Master’s Degree in Family Studies, little did I know my roots would bring me back to the farm for a career in agriculture. It all started back in the 1970s when my dad turned his passion for raising pigs into a family business.

We are a breed-to-wean farm. We specialize in caring for mother pigs, called sows, through their pregnancy as well as care for each piglet from birth until its ready to be weaned from its mother. Thanks to technology in our pig barns, we are able to give the best care to each pig. Every pig matters and each one gets the individual attention it needs and deserves. Let me show you our farm!

1. We’ve Been Doing This for A While

Every farm starts with a single sow. My father was gifted his first sow, and fell in love with pig farming immediately. After years of raising pigs from birth, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to best care for every single piglet birthed on our farm.

2. Our Pigs are Kept in Climate Controlled Comfort

This is the entrance to our farm. We keep our pigs inside barns to provide them with a safe and comfortable place to live, and help protect them from weather elements like wind, rain, heat and snow. Pigs are sensitive to weather fluctuations and can easily get sick, so keeping them indoors at a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees helps keep them comfortable and healthy.

3. Each Pig Gets a Private Room and Personal Service

Sows are given private pens called farrowing stalls to birth their litter of 10-13 piglets. After birth, the farrowing stalls allow the pigs to stay close to their mother, and helps keep them safe. I visit the farrowing stalls several times a day to monitor the health of the sows and the piglets.

4. Every Sow has a Specialized Meal Plan

Each sow has her own feeder and automatic waterer. The sows eat freshly ground corn and soybean meal mixed with essential vitamins and minerals that they need. Based on our nutritionist’s recommendations, each sow gets a custom amount of feed based on her stage of pregnancy or the age of her piglets. Fresh water is provided at all times.

5. Warmth and Cleanliness Go a Long Way

Piglets prefer warmer temperatures so each farrowing stall has a heat lamp and dry comfort mat for the piglets to sleep on. The slatted floor allows their waste to easily go into a pit below the barn which helps keeps the space clean, and allows us to collect the manure easily to apply to our crops as a natural fertilizer.

6. I Love What I Do, and I Love Every Single Piglet

I love taking care of each pig and believe that every pig matters on our farm. We are thankful for enhanced technologies that help give our pigs a safe, comfortable and healthy environment to live in, and allows me to spend more 1:1 time caring for their health.

Thanks for visiting, and if you want to see more, check out my video for a peek inside our pig barn!

Lauren Schwab, one of USFRA’s Faces of Farming & Ranching, works on her 1200-sow breed-to-wean family pig farm in Butler County, Ohio, where they raise 30,000 pigs annually. As the farrowing house manager, she is a week one specialist to ensure all piglets get off to the best start. As a millennial farmer and blogger, Lauren connects with young adults and young women who care about their food, their environment and their careers.

All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.